Friday, January 11, 2013

Phillip K. Dick - Valis

Welcome back after a month off... hope everyone enjoyed reading The Sound and the Fury.  We'll discuss it on Sunday the 11th at 7 PM.  I still have a bit left to go, so don't spoil it for me or anything.

For next month, I thought we should try something a bit different--how about Phillip K. Dick's Valis?  This fellow was pretty much my favorite author in high school, but after getting sucked into the whole modernism thing, I feel like I lost the science fiction thread.  Thing is, I feel like the two aren't mutually exclusive, so I think we can swing this thematically.  That meeting will be on the second Sunday as usual, February 10th at 7 PM at Books Inc on Chestnut St.

The first book in Philip K. Dick's final trilogy (followed by The Divine Invasion and The Transmigration of Timothy Archer), VALIS encapsulates many of the themes that Dick was obsessed with over the course of his career. A disorienting and bleakly funny novel, VALIS (which stands for Vast Active Living Intelligence System) is about a schizophrenic man named Horselover Fat (who just might also be known as Philip Dick); the hidden mysteries of Gnostic Christianity; and reality as revealed through a pink laser. VALIS is a theological detective story, in which God is both a missing person and the perpetrator of the ultimate crime.
Taking place in the same universe as Dick's soon-to-be-published Exegesis, VALIS is a dense novel, but one that is absolutely essential to understanding the author's off-kilter worldview. Much like Dick himself, the reader is left wondering what is real, what is fiction, and what the price is for divine inspiration.