The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

59° Stony Brook, NY
The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

Newsletter

    Get Your Read On: VALIS

    Imagine dropping a lot of acid, suffering from years of paranoid delusions, and finding yourself in a struggle between reality and the divine, and then writing about it.’ Philip K. Dick did just that, probably so we don’t have to. VALIS, the first book in a trilogy by the same name, follows the story of a truly tragic character, Horselover Fat; the twist is, however, that Fat’s story is actually Dick’s own, as he confesses a few dozen pages in. He separates himself into two characters, one rational and one psychotic, and tells his story.

    A divine satellite, by the name of Zebra, beams the secrets of life and the creation of the universe into Fat’s head through a blinding red light. In a simple phrase, ‘The Empire never ended,’ God communicates to Dick’s protagonist that the early Christians discovered the secret to resurrection and that time has simply been an illusion ever since the time around Christ’s death. The Judao-Christian God, Yahweh, is deranged, for he thinks he is the only God – Fat is in communication with Yaldeboath, or the true God Almighty. Yahweh’s facade of corruption has reached its pinnacle during the reign of Richard Nixon, whom Fat regarded as the Anti-Christ. The entire story, outrageous plot and all, is firmly grounded within reality and is told in a masterfully absurd way. Fat’s friends doubt him, as they have every right to – he is, by all measures, psychotic and delusional. However, there are very salient parts of the plot that support Fat’s view of the world, leaving readers with just a taste of the mental anguish that Dick himself must have experienced.

    As an example, Fat and his close friends hear of an infant who too has been in communication with Zebra. The infant, who is the daughter of two famous rockers, has the intellectual might of a sage, and is believed to be the reincarnation of Christ himself. Despite what Fat’s eyes and ears tell him, the entire episode is over as quickly as it began, leaving him and his cohort to question their own reality while trying to adjust to the world around them. This is where Dick shines, intertwining reality with fantasy, all the while keeping a logical progression that grounds the main characters in a believable world.

    Dick interjects parts of another of his major works, his ‘Exigesis,’ throughout VALIS as the work of his protagonist. He gives us such jewels as, ‘The Mind lets in the light, then the dark; in interaction; so time is generated. At the end Mind awards victory to the light; time ceases and the Mind is complete.’ There are literally dozens of these quick entries, which range from describing how all sorrow in the universe can be traced back to the death of a woman to how three-eyed masons with clawed hands have been guiding the human species toward a favorable end. If you only read the VALIS to get a taste of his ‘Exigesis,’ it will have been more than worth the effort.

    VALIS is not for the weak of heart. It is an exercise in expanding one’s consciousness, and one that I highly recommend.

    Leave a Comment
    Donate to The Statesman

    Your donation will support the student journalists of Stony Brook University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

    More to Discover
    Donate to The Statesman

    Comments (0)

    All The Statesman Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *