Philip K. Dick’s Own Definition of Gnosticism
It’s no secret knowledge that one of this site’s inspirations in all its heresy is Philip K. Dick. More than a decade ago, while plowing through my first copy of the Nag Hammadi library, I was affected but puzzled by the contraband message of the ancient Gnostics.
Then I read Valis. Then I saw through a glass darkly no more when it came to the Gnostic beliefs.
Sure, it’s also no secret knowledge that Dick employed (and weaponized) Gnostic themes in many of his works beyond Valis—that he was aware of Gnosticism long before the first edition of the Nag Hammadi library was published in 1978. In fact, Dick provided his own “listicle” on the what defines Gnosticism (see below).
Did Dick consider himself a Gnostic, though?
Beyond his 2-3-74 visions and how the Gnostic narrative made for engaging sci-fi, did Dick feel he was part of that underground stream of Gnostic heresy?
It seems so, by Dick’s own words in his voluminous The Exegesis. The book also reveals that sometimes if Mohammed won’t go to the Red Pill, the Red Pill will plunge down Mohammed’s throat (and it feels like a mountain). Sometimes Gnosis chooses you.
Here are some quotes from his posthumous book:
I think anyone versed in Gnosticism who read my notes would say, “You’re a Gnostic.” I am not happy about this, but it is so, based on 3-74. Simon Magus lives.
I am too far into Gnosticism to back out. The idea of Jesus opening Adam’s eyes and bringing him to consciousness, the re-linking to the lost primordial state through the Gnosis, the unflinching facing of evil in the world and knowing it cannot have come from (the Good) God — and the Salvador Sylvanus — man as cut off from part of the Godhead.
Dick was, of course, influenced by other esoteric traditions—a relentless miner of all subterranean streams of wisdom. In the end, as leading PKD scholar Erik Davis explained at the Gnostic Countercultures Conference, Dick never viewed himself as a savior but an apostle spreading the good news that all humans could become their own saviors. All they had to do was:
That is certainly in line with such Gnostic texts as the Gospel of Philip or Gospel of Thomas, where any individual can alchemically transform into a living Christ after experiencing Gnosis.
Moreover, as Davis explained, Dick never thought he was solely writing fiction but recording the direct revelation of none other than the Aeon Sophia.
Okay, so where is that definition of Gnosticism, Dickhead?
With that in mind, please allow me to introduce (or re-introduce for many of you other Dickheads), Dick’s The Ten Major Principles of the Gnostic Revelation (also found in The Exegesis):
The Gnostic Christians of the second century believed that only a special revelation of knowledge rather than faith could save a person. The contents of this revelation could not be received empirically or derived a priori. They considered this special gnosis so valuable that it must be kept secret. Here are the ten major principles of the gnostic revelation:
- The creator of this world is demented.
- The world is not as it appears, in order to hide the evil in it, a delusive veil obscuring it and the deranged deity.
- There is another, better realm of God, and all our efforts are to be directed toward
a. returning there
b. bringing it here
- Our actual lives stretch thousands of years back, and we can be made to remember our origin in the stars.
- Each of us has a divine counterpart unfallen who can reach a hand down to us to awaken us. This other personality is the authentic waking self; the one we have now is asleep and minor. We are in fact asleep, and in the hands of a dangerous magician disguised as a good god, the deranged creator deity. The bleakness, the evil and pain in this world, the fact that it is a deterministic prison controlled by the demented creator causes us willingly to split with the reality principle early in life, and so to speak willingly fall asleep in delusion.
- You can pass from the delusional prison world into the peaceful kingdom if the True Good God places you under His grace and allows you to see reality through His eyes.
- Christ gave, rather than received, revelation; he taught his followers how to enter the kingdom while still alive, where other mystery religions only bring about amnesis: knowledge of it at the “other time” in “the other realm,” not here. He causes it to come here, and is the living agency to the Sole Good God (i.e. the Logos).
- Probably the real, secret Christian church still exists, long underground, with the living Corpus Christi as its head or ruler, the members absorbed into it. Through participation in it they probably have vast, seemingly magical powers.
- The division into “two times” (good and evil) and “two realms” (good and evil) will abruptly end with victory for the good time here, as the presently invisible kingdom separates and becomes visible. We cannot know the date.
- During this time period we are on the sifting bridge being judged according to which power we give allegiance to, the deranged creator demiurge of this world or the One Good God and his kingdom, whom we know through Christ.
To know these ten principles of Gnostic Christianity is to court disaster.
I guess I should have probably warned you about the curse at the end. I’m sure you’ll forgive me, even after the Archons realize you’ve woken up and then bring down the fires of Heaven upon you…unless you steal them first.
Great, I’m cursed for the rest of my lifetimes. What do I do now?
Try this quote by Dick from The Exegesis that truly summarizes the Gnostic approach to seizing that Red Pill or the fire of the gods right now (or grabbing the Archons by their proverbial and celestial testicles):
The great confrontation worthy of man is between tragedy (the classic and Greek victory by fate over man) and the heroic (modern and Faustian: the victory of man over fate) – and this is achieved by collapsing time and space and meeting death now, on your own terms: seizing it, not it you, you die, but it is your death, not death imposed on you in violation of your nature: its logical outcome of what you are, not world and fate are.
There is nothing else I can add. Except this:
Simon Magus lives!
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