The first part, up to chapter 9, seems totally random to me, with no real story,
told in a 1st AND 3rd person view. If nothing else it developed the characters.
You can't really be sure where it is heading, but it feels like it is going
somewhere. The rambling nature seemed to give a feel of schizophrenia, the
"insanity" of Horselover Fat.
There is tons of theology, quotes from all kind of ancient texts, an off the
wall exegesis, and generally more insanity feeling beliefs bandied about. While
there is a heavy emphasis on Christianity, it is mixed judiciously with Eastern
concepts; something we see prevalent in the New Age movements promotion of
Buddhism , Hinduism, and like ilk. This comes in front of a backdrop of
suicide, depression, and cancer. At this point the whole thing really began to
feel quite tedious.
Interestingly enough, there is a line where it is shown that The Grateful Dead
got Gloria (who commits suicide) to use drugs as well as an honorable mention
of Tim Leary. If Phillip K. Dick wasn't "in on it" (Changing Images of Man etc)
then he surely had his finger on the pulse of what was happening.
The promotion of drugs and pseudo religion/philosophical absurdities makes me
think he was part of the cultural change that started, in earnest, in the
It begins to pick up, the story starts coming together in chapter 9, where
VALIS is introduced. Well, "come together" might be too strong a statement.
It simply makes the insanity of the background, the characters, more sensible,
if any of it can be called sensible.
!! SPOILER ALERT !!
VALIS is some kind of god/technology that controls minds. There is a movie,
produced by musicians, that alludes to subliminal messages being deployed via
media. Of course it is couched in science fiction, with pink laser beams
transmitting data into your head, giving you cancer, but it doesn't seem a
stretch to see it as a fictionalized MK Ultra.
It was interesting to see that a young child (2 years old) was a "vessel" for
VALIS. Was this to show that the mind control is being targeted toward
While it is not even concluded, there are ample discussions of time disruptions
and the fact that the world is made up of only information; what appears before
us is merely a hologram. This is consistent with the holographic universe
theory (nonsense IMHO) of today.
The end was more interested than the beginning, it moved faster, but still, I
did not really like the rambling nature of the story, although I can see the
effect, insanity, it was trying to produce. The narrator, Horselover Fat in the
3rd person and Phil in the 1st, was insane. Really this wasn't very hidden,
there are less than subtle hints in the first half that make it a foregone
conclusion in my mind.
!! END SPOILERS !!
In my opinion it was not a great story, but at least it was better than the
last Dick novel I read, Simulacra. If you are knowledgeable when it comes to
MKUltra and similar programs it will be interesting to read, otherwise, if you
are only looking for a sci-fi story, skip it.
Table of Contents
- // Pages numbers from the pdf.
- It was obvious that the acid, since he had last heard from her six months
ago, had wrecked her mind.
- Glora [sic] was not even committing her irrational act rationally. Thank you,
Tim Leary, Fat thought. You and your promotion
of the joy of expanded consciousness through dope.
- “But that's why I started on drugs,” Gloria said.
“Because of the Grateful Dead?”
- “You started seeing colors. Floating colors.” Kevin had begun to shout again
in excitement; when his cynicism vanished he became manic. “That's described in
The Tibetan Book of the Dead; that's the trip
across to the next world. You were mentally dying! From stress and fear! That's
how it's done—reaching into the next reality! The dream-time!”
- seeing ancient Rome superimposed over California 1974.
- How much else is there in VALIS that we didn't pick up on? Pick up on
consciously. There's no telling what it's doing to our unconscious minds; the
goddam film may be—" Kevin grimaced. "Firing all kinds
of information at us, visually and auditorily. I've got to make a tape
of the sound track of that flick;
- It's a trans-Christian mysticism in which man can reach beyond God, or merges with God...
You worship a god and then he pays you back by taking you over. This is
called “enthousiasmos” in Greek, literally “to be possessed by the god.” Of all
the Greek gods the one most likely to do this was Dionysos. And, unfortunately,
Dionysos was insane.
Put another way-stated backward—if your god takes you over, it is likely that
no matter what name he goes by he is actually a form of the mad god Dionysos. He was also the god of intoxication, which
may mean, literally, to take in toxins; that is to say, to take a
poison. The danger is there.
If you sense this, you try to run. But if you run he has you anyhow, for the
demigod Pan was the basis of panic which is the
uncontrollable urge to flee, and Pan is a subform of Dionysos. So in
trying to flee from Dionysos you are taken over anyhow.
What happened at Jonestown was the mass
running of panic, inspired by the mad god—panic leading into death, the logical
outcome of the mad god's thrust.
For them no way out existed. You must be taken over by the mad god to
understand this, that once it happens there is no way out, because the mad god
It is not reasonable for nine hundred people to collude in their own deaths
and the deaths of little children, but the mad god is not logical, not as we
understand the term.
- Robert Anton Wilson says...
“Everything is taped,” Mini said. “Sophia is surrounded
by audio and video recording equipment that automatically monitors her
constantly. Not for her protection, of course; VALIS protects her
"Meaning microwave transmissions and such like," Kevin said.
"Yes," I said.
"A purely technological phenomenon," Kevin said. "A major technological
"Using the human mind as the transducer," I
said. "Without an electronic interface."