For the last twenty years, I have asked myself almost daily whether I’m insane. I think the verdict is in but just because I can fix food, drive a car, converse intelligibly on the phone, and write bits and pieces for blogs—that doesn’t mean I don’t send mental probes into other dimensions where cosmic beings monitor my progress in being able to download things from a place called pure existence. Or find myself at the center of the galaxy with swirling arms of stars, planets, and masses of gas, giggling in bliss despite not having a leg to stand on. Or emerging spontaneously into the reality place where a prolonged visit will shred everything I think I am, knowing I didn’t quite get back in time. Or sitting terrified in a chair while something sweeps over me that has insanity written all over it. Or feeling so depressed that any moment the cosmic demon is going to swallow me whole and take me to the edge of oblivion so that I will know what it is without having any way to back off.
I read Philip K. Dick for companionship. So I can feel his breath manifesting wisps of thought in my mind that announce a presence I can relate to rather than what my mind has to deal with inside the collective psychosis. I’ll take a high five on that one! Besides, my psychosis is a lot more interesting than anything the TV can serve up, or the checkout girl at the supermarket can dredge up when she wishes me a good day.
So when I read VALIS, there is a lot of shit coming down the pike (I’ll get to Timothy Archer later). We know there are a number of novels where Dick zeroes in on that place where the rational mind craps out, but those are wrapped up in protective storylines. VALIS is almost naked! Like the giant claws of existence are ripping the author apart, and I don’t know whether to pop a few more pills or get down to my own nakedness and join the fray.
Here is the deal about reading VALIS.* Whoever reads it has to take a stand on one side or the other of the sanity/insanity line—if you can find one. It’s important. You can take the ramblings about esoteric writings and ancient philosophies and try to put it all together like a jigsaw puzzle and nod obligingly to Fat, thinking you and he are on the same page intellectually, or you can join Fat and let go of your mind as it revs up like a jet engine out of gear and get it firsthand that none of that stuff matters and that you are standing there like the little Dutch boy with his finger in the dike long after the Atlantic Ocean has passed over you.
So, for the next few blogs I will sort through some of my mental debris and hopefully come up with something intelligible to say about this book.
*The FDA will never approve this book. Check in with your doctor to see if you are sane enough to read it.