The Info List - VALIS

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is a 1981 science fiction novel by Philip K. Dick . The title is an acronym for Vast Active Living Intelligence System, Dick's gnostic vision of one aspect of God.

It is the first book in the incomplete VALIS trilogy of novels, followed by The Divine Invasion (1981). The planned third novel, The Owl in Daylight , had not yet taken definite shape at the time of the author's death. Radio Free Albemuth
Radio Free Albemuth
, a posthumously published earlier version of VALIS, is not included as a component of the VALIS trilogy. Dick completed one more novel after The Divine Invasion, The Transmigration of Timothy Archer (1982), based on Dick's association with Bishop James A. Pike and not connected to the VALIS


* 1 Synopsis * 2 Characters * 3 Reception * 4 Dick\'s Exegesis

* 5 Philosophical and cultural references

* 5.1 Black Iron Prison

* 6 In popular culture * 7 References * 8 Sources * 9 External links * 10 See also


Horselover Fat believes his visions expose hidden facts about the reality of life on Earth, and a group of others join him in researching these matters. One of their theories is that there is some kind of alien space probe in orbit around Earth, and that it is aiding them in their quest. It also aided the United States in disclosing the Watergate scandal and the resignation of Richard Nixon in 1974. There is a filmed account of an alternative universe Nixon, "Ferris Fremont" and his fall, engineered by a fictionalised Valis, which leads them to an estate owned by the Lamptons, popular musicians. Valis (the fictional film) contains obvious references to identical revelations to those that Horselover Fat has experienced. They decide the goal that they have been led toward is Sophia, who is two years old and the Messiah or incarnation of Holy Wisdom anticipated by some variants of Gnostic Christianity . She tells them that their conclusions are correct, but dies after a laser accident. Undeterred, Fat goes on a global search for the next incarnation of Sophia. Dick also offers a rationalist explanation of his apparent "theophany", acknowledging that it might have been visual and auditory hallucinations from either schizophrenia or drug addiction sequelae .


* Phil: narrator, science fiction writer * Horselover Fat: narrator; Philip in Greek means "fond of horses"; "dick" is German for "fat". Later, it is disclosed that Fat is a schizophrenic modality of Phil himself. * Gloria Knudson: suicidal friend of Fat's * Kevin: friend of Fat's, skeptic, based on K. W. Jeter
K. W. Jeter
* Sherri Solvig: Fat's friend, eventually dies from lymphatic cancer * David: Catholic friend of Fat's, based on Tim Powers * Eric Lampton: rock star, screenwriter, actor, aka "Mother Goose" - apparently a fictionalised version of David Bowie * Linda Lampton: actress * Brent Mini: electronic composer, a fictionalised version of Brian Eno . * Sophia: Two-year-old child. Personalised incarnation of Holy Wisdom within some variants of Gnosticism


Thomas M. Disch reported that "the fascination of the book, what's most artful and confounding about it, is the way the line between Dick and Fat shifts and wavers." Disch concludes that "as a novel, as a whole novel . . . it went off the rails sometimes. But the first half holds together wonderfully, considering how much there is to be held together."


Main article: The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick

has been described as one node of an artificial satellite network originating from the star Sirius
in the Canis Major constellation. According to Dick, the Earth satellite used "pink laser beams" to transfer information and project holograms on Earth and to facilitate communication between an extraterrestrial species and humanity. Dick claimed that VALIS
used "disinhibiting stimuli" to communicate, using symbols to trigger recollection of intrinsic knowledge through the loss of amnesia , achieving gnosis . Drawing directly from Platonism and Gnosticism , Dick wrote in his Exegesis: "We appear to be memory coils (DNA carriers capable of experience) in a computer-like thinking system which, although we have correctly recorded and stored thousands of years of experiential information, and each of us possesses somewhat different deposits from all the other life forms, there is a malfunction—a failure—of memory retrieval ."

At one point, Dick claimed to be in a state of enthousiasmos with VALIS, where he was informed his infant son was in danger of perishing from an unnamed malady. Routine checkups on the child had shown no trouble or illness; however, Dick insisted that thorough tests be run to ensure his son's health. The doctor eventually complied, despite the fact that there were no apparent symptoms. During the examination doctors discovered an inguinal hernia , which would have killed the child if an operation was not quickly performed. His son survived thanks to the operation, which Dick attributed to the "intervention" of VALIS.

Another event was an episode of supposed xenoglossia . Supposedly, Dick's wife transcribed the sounds she heard him speak, and discovered that he was speaking Koine Greek —the common Greek dialect during the Hellenistic years (3rd century BC–4th century AD) and direct "father" of today's modern Greek language —which he had never studied. As Dick was to later discover, Koine Greek was originally used to write the New Testament and the Septuagint . However, this was not the first time Dick had claimed xenoglossia: a decade earlier, Dick insisted he was able to think, speak, and read fluent Koine Greek under the influence of Sandoz LSD-25

The UK edition of VALIS
also included "Cosmology and Cosmogony", a chapbook containing selections from Dick's Exegesis .


Theology and philosophy , especially metaphysical philosophy, play an important role in VALIS, presenting not just Dick's (and/or Horselover Fat's) own views on these subjects but also his interpretation of numerous religions and philosophies of the past. The most prominent religious references are to Valentinian Gnosticism , the Rose Cross Brotherhood , Zoroastrianism and Buddhism , as well as Biblical writings including the Book of Daniel and the New Testament epistles . Many ancient Greek philosophers are discussed, including several Pre-Socratics ( Pythagoras
, Xenophanes
, Heraclitus , Empedocles and Parmenides
) as well as Plato
and Aristotle
. More recent thinkers that are mentioned include the philosophers Pascal and Schopenhauer , the Christian mystic Jakob Böhme , the alchemist Paracelsus , the psychologists Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud , the Romanian historian of religion Mircea Eliade , and the author and psychologist Robert Anton Wilson . In Wilson's autobiographical Cosmic Trigger (released shortly before Dick commenced work on VALIS), Wilson describes similar musings concerning the ' Sirius
Connection', contemplating the idea that alien entities are sending out waves of information that we can tune in on.

The action of VALIS
is set firmly in the American popular culture of its time, with references to the Grateful Dead
Grateful Dead
, Frank Zappa
Frank Zappa
and Linda Ronstadt as well as the fictional rock musicians Eric Lampton and Brent Mini. However, the novel also contains a number of high culture references such as the poets Vaughan , Wordsworth and Goethe , and the classical composers Handel and Wagner . In particular, the novel contains several extended discussions about Wagner's metaphysical opera Parsifal


"The Black Iron Prison" is a concept of an all-pervasive system of social control postulated in the Tractates Cryptica Scriptura, a summary of an unpublished Gnostic exegesis included in VALIS. Dick wrote:

Once, in a cheap science fiction novel, Fat had come across a perfect description of the Black Iron Prison, but set in the far future. So if you superimposed the past (ancient Rome) over the present (California in the twentieth century) and superimposed the far future world of The Android Cried Me a River over that, you got the Empire, as the supra- or trans-temporal constant. Everyone who had ever lived was literally surrounded by the iron walls of the prison; they were all inside it and none of them knew it.


was adapted in 1987 as an electronic opera by composer Tod Machover , and performed at Centre Georges Pompidou , with live singers and video installations created by artist Catherine Ikam.

On February 1, 2004, Variety announced that Utopia Pictures ">

* ^ Dick, Philip K. (2000). Lee, Gwen; Sauter, Doris Elaine, eds. What If Our World Is Their Heaven. Woodstock & New York: The Overlook Press. pp. 49–157. ISBN 978-1585670093 . * ^ " VALIS
Plot Summary", Philip K. Dick Trust * ^ "Talking with Jesus", F Gollancz, 2001, pp. 54-55 * ^ "WorldCat entry for Valis: an opera in two parts". OCLC. Online Computer Library Center, Inc. Retrieved April 6, 2011. * ^ Harris, Dana (2004-02-01). "Utopia picks Dick works". Variety.com. Retrieved 2006-08-14. * ^ AN INTERVIEW WITH JOHN ALAN SIMON * ^ Pitchfork Review - Bloc Party\'s "Four" * ^ Exegesis by Tacoma Narrows Bridge Disaster * ^ "Grand Valis Clean Feed Records". Clean Feed Records. 2015-05-26. Retrieved 2016-07-09.


* Galbreath, Robert, (1982). "Salvation-Knowledge: Ironic Gnosticism in