Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Was Dick really a gnostic?

Part 3 of the posts on science fiction writer Philip K. Dick is up at the NYT's philosophy blog. Don't know if I agree with the post, but here's just a bit of it ....

Part 3: Adventures in the Dream Factory
By Simon Critchley

[...] Philip K. Dick’s admittedly peculiar but passionately held worldview and the gnosticism it embodies does more than explain what some call the dystopian turn in science fiction from the 1960s onward, it also gives us what has arguably become the dominant mode of understanding of fiction in our time, whether literary, artistic or cinematic. This is the idea that reality is a pernicious illusion, a repressive and authoritarian matrix generated in a dream factory we need to tear down in order to see things aright and have access to the truth. And let’s be honest: it is simply immensely pleasurable to give oneself over to the idea that one has torn aside the veil of illusion and seen the truth — “I am one of the elect, one of the few in the know, in the gnosis.”

Dick’s gnosticism also allows us to see in a new light what is the existentially toughest teaching of traditional Christianity: that sin lies within us in the form of original sin. Once we embrace gnosticism, then we can declare that wickedness does not have its source within the human heart but out there, with the corrupt archons of corporate capitalism or whomever. We are not wicked. It is the world that is wicked. This is an insight that first finds its modern voice in Rousseau before influencing a whole Heinz variety of Romanticisms, which turn on the idea of natural human goodness and childhood innocence. We adults idealize childhood because grown-up life seems such a disaster. We forget that being a child — being that powerless — is often its very own disaster ....


Anonymous Victor said...

(((Don't know if I agree with the post, but here's just a bit of it ....)))

NOW! Hey Crystal, there's still hope that you might see the light someday and when you're born again, you will please tell me from what galaxy planet you came from? Who knows, maybe you have roots from here below?

I hear ya! You'll be the first to know about "IT" sinner vic! :)


12:00 PM  
Anonymous Richard said...

Hi Crystal, I've been reading the Exegesis of PKD in response to your earlier blog. These seem to be a well edited collection of personal papers, journal entries etc. preserved after his death. Very insightful glimpse into the mind behind all that wonderful SF and into the profound personal experiences that prompted his work during his last decade. The collection includes some intriguing correspondence with Ursala Le g\Guin, Phillip Jose Farmer and other SF luminaries and on his friendship with Bishop Pike. A lot of speculative thought about Christian themes, the activity of Holy Spirit, the nature of good and evil. One could make the case that he was suffering from psychotic episodes but very thought provoking stuff none the less. Having a great time with it.

12:42 PM  
Blogger crystal said...


Thanks for the link :)

1:32 PM  
Blogger crystal said...


Interesting who he was communicating with - I like many of Le Giun's books and have been wanting to re-read To Your Scattered Bodies Go by Farmer. Bishop Pike? Strange. I haven't read any of his later books, like VALIS, that have the Christian/gnostic themes, but maybe I should.

1:46 PM  

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