Read VALIS by Philip K. Dick Online

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VALIS is the first book in Philip K. Dick's incomparable final trio of novels (the others being The Divine Invasion and The Transmigration of Timothy Archer). This disorienting and bleakly funny work is about a schizophrenic hero named Horselover Fat; the hidden mysteries of Gnostic Christianity; and reality as revealed through a pink laser. VALIS is a theological detectivVALIS is the first book in Philip K. Dick's incomparable final trio of novels (the others being The Divine Invasion and The Transmigration of Timothy Archer). This disorienting and bleakly funny work is about a schizophrenic hero named Horselover Fat; the hidden mysteries of Gnostic Christianity; and reality as revealed through a pink laser. VALIS is a theological detective story, in which God is both a missing person and the perpetrator of the ultimate crime.Cover design: Heidi North...

Title : VALIS
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ISBN : 9780679734468
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 242 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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VALIS Reviews

  • Glenn Russell
    2019-01-02 08:47

    “A question we had to learn to deal with during the dope decade was, How do you break the news to someone that his brains are fried?” So says the first-person narrator in VALIS, Philip K. Dick’s autobiographical novel of spiritual odyssey, a novel where the narrator begins by laying out the major issues he must deal with as he attempts to gain a measure of sanity along with a sense of purpose and the meaning of life: drugs, a desire to help others, the pull of insanity, suicide and death, time and place (Northern California in the 60s), split-identity (the narrator alternately identifies and disidentifies with one Horselover Fat), God and occlusion (he receives otherworldly messages via a beam of pink light prompting him to explore ancient Gnosticism) – all in all a 60s California-style version of the novels of Hermann Hesse, novels like Siddhartha, Damion and Steppenwolf. What a wild ride. For example, here is a list of what I see as the top ten conundrums we are asked to ponder:One - TheophanyThe narrator explains how a theophany is self-disclosure by the divine, in other words, a theophany isn’t something we do; rather, a theophany is something the divine – the God or gods, the higher powers – does to us. The intense pink beam of light experienced by the narrator’s persona Horselover Fat was just such a theophany. But, then, the question invariably arises: how are we to know if we received a true theophany or are suffering from an illusion?Two - When your theophany goes against the grain of the conventionalOne of the most fascinating and hilarious parts of the novel is the narrator’s therapy session with Maurice, a Hasidic Jew. In his session, Horselover Fat contrasts the ‘true’ God, the God of the Gnostics, the God of his pink ray of light, with the ‘flawed’ God of Genesis. Maurice’s reaction to such an esoteric explanation of the universe makes for lively reading, a highpoint of insight into the rocky spiritual challenges faced by our narrator.Three - When your discover others share your theophanyTurns out, there are a number of other people who have had a similar theophany from the true Gnostic God. Horselover Fat’s encounter with these men and women challenges his very idea of sanity since he observes just how far zealots will go in their zealotry.Four – How to deal with your theophany once it starts to wear offFrom the novel: “They ought to make it a binding clause that if you find God you get to keep him. For Fat, finding God (if indeed he did find God) became, ultimately, a bummer, a constantly diminishing supply of joy, sinking lower and lower like the contents of a bag of uppers.” Darn, if only God were as readily available as drugs.Five – When you encounter the many sides of youAs Harry Haller of Hesse’s Steppenwolf experiences the many facets of his personal identity in the Magic Theater, so, in the course this novel, PKD (yes, again, a very autobiographical work) discovers the many sides of PKD. How many versions are there? Feel free to round to the nearest dozen.Six – The concept of timeIs someone or something playing a board game with time and we humans as mere players? Can time be abolished and transcended? If so, how do we go about it?Seven – Zebra, that is, pure living intelligence, so called by Horselover FatCan an out-of-cosmos intelligence contact humans? This question is related to the possibility of a true theophany.Eight - The presence of evil in the universeIs there an answer to Kevin’s pressing question: What about my dead cat? In other words, why do bad things happen to good cats or why is there evil in the world?Nine – The ExegesisAn exegesis is a critical explanation or interpretation of scripture or a sacred text. VALIS includes many entries from PKD’s thousand page exegesis published as a separate book. The question looms: would PKD have expanded his exegesis to several more thousands of pages had he lived to age 90? My own guess is definitely ‘yes’, since once you start to unravel the mysteries of the universe according to your own schemata, three questions pop up for every answer you offer. Ah, the mysteries of the universe!Ten – What is VALIS?Sure, it stands for Vast Active Living Intelligence System, but where does it fit into the novel? I wouldn’t want to spoil this question by providing an answer. You will have to read it for yourself. Once again, novel reading as a wild magic carpet ride. I recommend you hop on.

  • Lyn
    2018-12-24 04:56

    Imagine taking a walk in a bad neighborhood and sitting on a sidewalk bench. Beside you sits a disheveled homeless person with crazy eyes. Despite your best efforts the two of you strike up a conversation. Slowly, incredulously, you begin to realize that this crazy person is well read. No, this person is educated, well educated and though he goes off on wild tangents and makes seemingly ludicrous claims, his mind is a brilliantly tangled mess, a fecundity of original thought. And yet all the while the crazy eyes continue to make you uncomfortable. This is a fitting illustration of reading VALIS by Philip K. Dick. Narrated by the author and yet telling the tale of Horselover Fat (a pseudonym for Dick himself) and yet with allusions that Fat is himself (and a direct reference to David Bowie!) and only written in the third person to make a better story. VALIS is a theological, philosophical, sociological funhouse ride. Is Dick really a self-medicated schizophrenic? Does he affect this perspective to tell the story? Is the perspective an unguarded glimpse at mental illness; is this a literary affectation for effect? VALIS may be his best novel or his most unstable, or both, it grips the reader and holds tight and all the while the reader is held like a rubber-necking motorist slowly passing a wreck. But is the wreck real or a cleverly crafted performance art? It all goes towards the brilliance of the book. The cameo appearance by David Bowie was very cool, that conversation can easily be imagined. Clearly well researched, Dick’s eclectic litany of abstract and unorthodox ideas are reminiscent of Kesey or H.P. Lovecraft. VALIS represents the literary culmination of much of his research that readers can find in the The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick. If you don’t like PKD as a writer, don’t bother, but if you like his writing, this one is a must read.

  • Will Byrnes
    2018-12-25 07:41

    I was prompted to read this after it popped up in a season 4 episode of LOST. Horselover Fat is both the narrator and a third-person character. He is our everyman through whom we are led in a contemplation of the nature of reality, god and sanity. Was Fat really the recipient of a beam of pink light that contained information from god? Or is he just a psycho who speaks both as himself and as his alter, and more real ego, Philip K. Dick? Is god reincarnated in a two year old child? Was earth once populated by a race of three-eyed beings? Will it be in the future? Is VALIS god or just a machine made by future humans? So much going on in terms of themes, ideas, and nothing much going on in terms of the sort of action one expects in a sci-fi book. Steroids for the imagination. =============================SOME QUOTESP 10One of God’s great mercies is that he keeps us perpetually occluded.P 20 – [possible relation to LOST notions – Faraday saying that the light falls differently on the island]God, he told us, had fired a beam of pink light directly at him, at his head, his eyes; Fat had been temporarily blinded and his head had ached for days. It was easy, he said, to describe the beam of pink light; it’s exactly what you get as a phosphene after-image when a flashbulb has gone off in your face. Fat was spiritually haunted by that color. Sometimes it showed up on a TV screen. He lived for that light, that one particular color. However, he could never really find it again. Nothing could generate that color for light but God. In other words, normal light did not contain that color. One time Fat studied a color chart, a chart of the visible spectrum. The color was absent. He had seen a color which no one can see; it lay off the end. P 46“You know what Eliade says about the dream-time of the Australian Bushmen? He says that anthropologists are wrong in assuming that the dream-time is time in the past. Eliade says it is another kind of time going on right now, which the Bushmen break through and into, the age of the heroes and their deeds.

  • Bradley
    2019-01-05 07:43

    Update 5/13/17:I had to dive back into VALIS because certain tales continue to resonate with me... and this one is still one of the very most important. Who knows? Maybe I am just a crazy as PKD because I'm obsessed with the perception of reality, holographic universes, the edict of "As Above, So Below", and the nature of consciousness. Or maybe I'm just a naturally curious person that happens to be heavily stimulated by PKD's intelligence, his humility, his sincerity, and his travails.Any way that I look at it, however, I am still in awe of this man's writing. This one more than all his other novels, in fact, for the way he bleeds all over the page with his personal experiences, his deep searching, and his willingness to look practically everywhere for an answer.So beautiful. Of course, after all these years, I can now see this as the capstone to the great pyramid of his other works and words. From Ubik and the nature of reality, to Galactic Pot-Healer for both the genetic regression and memory, and even to The Man in the High Castle for the alternate dimension mystery... for which all four of his last novels tie so well together.I disagree with the blurb, of course. It wasn't a trilogy. There were four, with The Divine Invasion exploring the return of Elijiah and how Sophia and the Logos reworks reality and the Earth, The Transmigration of Timothy Archer for the exploration of immortality in the form of a mystical mushroom and Pike (otherwise the most down-to-earth and charming of the tied-in-books), and Radio Free Albemuth which has the closest ties to VALIS out of the entire bunch since it IS the story of Brady from the movie VALIS and his troubles with president Faris F. Freemont in the police state that was the Black Iron Prison. :)All of these diverse novels sprang, fully formed, from the brainchild that was VALIS. So rich a novel!*shiver*It's easily one of my favorites of all time. :)Old Review:This book has everything except plot. I still love the fraking hell out of it. As a mind experiment gone horribly, horribly awry, I felt myself slipping into PKD's mindset and taking every point seriously, as you could just tell that he was. It felt like the ramblings of a man who had gone through something he couldn't explain and did his damned awful best to figure it out, but that includes religious horror, classical Greek authors, a ton of philosophy, and a life that is falling apart.I've since read his Exegesis, or at least the edited parts of it, but I was personally horrified by his own accounting of the Exegesis that he was currently writing at the time of, and within, this novel. A million words. Ten novel's worth. All densely populated with thought experiments, rationalizations, religious thought, humor, self-deprecation, and so much more.Knowing what I know now hasn't diminished my respect for this novel, just given it more dimension. At the time I first read it, I honestly thought that PKD had specifically picked this highly intellectual, spooky, crazy method to tell a story in a novel, while using himself as a split personality as a foil. I thought it was Brilliant. I know now that he just took out a lot of his salient points from the exegesis and made a slapped together novel. That being said, it still doesn't deplete the depth and the density of this great novel. I shook myself after reading it the first time and sat around dazed for a day. If I'm going to rank my favorite novels by the effects they had upon me, by their lasting effects upon my life, then I'm going to slap this one up near the very top. It still gives me shivers, and it made me feel small in a huge world of thought.I've since read all of the authors that he name-dropped, and have explored the catacombs, and can rebut and argue with PKD now; but first I had to be bitch-slapped by this great man before I could get back up and try again.It was NOT an easy read, but it was a fairly short novel. It was also a heart-wrenching piece to get through, as well. More than all of this, it was also an extremely rewarding piece of fiction, if you're willing to put the effort into not only it, but into PKD's thoughts and your own growth as a person.

  • RandomAnthony
    2019-01-06 10:00

    If someone were to make the “You seem to like Philip K. Dick, and I want to maybe give him a shot, but I don't know where to start because he's written dozens of novels” statement my instantaneous response would be, “NOT Valis!” Then I would add I've only read five or six of PKD's novels and I'm giddy with the prospect of reading further into his catalog. But no, no, don't start with Valis, or else you may never pick up another PKD book and you'd miss out on his masterpieces.PKD wrote Valis late in life. From what I can tell, it's one of his most autobiographical and, in turn, over-the-top works. PKD's life was, ahem, rather interesting, and this novel, unfortunately, will read weird if you don't know the author's backstory. It'll read weird anyway. What appear (and could very well be) the near-incoherent ramblings of an intelligent, well-read writer recovering from decades of drug-use and mental illness comprise significant chunks of the text. The narrator and his, uh, alternative personality, along with a couple friends, bounce around conspiracy-esque theories of reality and spirituality and eventually act on them when they see an art film they think includes clues to how select others perceive reality in similar ways. The novel's strength and traction emerge in the narrator's meditation on pain, sadness, and psychological health. These passages are near-brilliant. The former crazyass passages are bold-printed, at least in the edition I procured from the library, and when I saw one coming I readied my skimming skills. Valis shines in bursts, but I can understand avoiding the book because you have to wade through so much mud to find the gems. Fans only. Fans with good skimming abilities or a lot of patience.

  • Stuart
    2019-01-20 06:55

    VALIS: Reconciling human suffering with divine purposeOriginally posted at Fantasy LiteratureIt’s often said that “one must suffer for one’s art.” They must have been referring to Philip K. Dick. He slaved away in relative obscurity and poverty at a typewriter for decades, churning out a prodigious flow of low-paid Ace and Berkeley paperbacks (sometimes fueled by amphetamines), went through five marriages, battled with depression, mental illness and suicide attempts, all culminating in a bizarre religious experience in 1974, and struggled to come to grips with this for the next eight years until his death in 1982 from a stroke at age 54. And yet it wasn’t until VALIS (1981) and the posthumous Radio Free Albemuth (1985) that he addressed these experiences directly in fictional form.So if you want to get inside the mind of PDK, Radio Free Albemuth and VALIS are as close as you can safely get unless you are a real masochist and dare to tackle his huge volume of ramblings on his personal religious, hallucinatory, and visionary experiences in Feb/Mar 1974 (which he called “2-3-74”). They weigh in at a hefty 8,000 hand-written pages, which Pamela Jackson and Jonathan Lethem have somehow wrestled down to a “slim” 944 pages in The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick. So if you think VALIS is incoherent and somewhat unhinged, I would say, “No, this is the Cliff Notes version!” Let’s be upfront about VALIS. This is not really a SF novel, nor is it a traditional narrative at all. This book is a brutally honest, oftentimes darkly humorous, painful exploration of PKD trying to come to grips with some bizarre religious/hallucinatory experiences in 1974 during a particularly troubled period in his life. These experiences culminated in him being struck by a pink laser beam from an artificial living satellite (VALIS: Vast Active Living Intelligence System) orbiting the star Sirius, and was imparted a brief connection with a “transcendentally rational mind” that told him his infant son was suffering from an inguinal hernia and needed immediate surgery to save his life (which turned out to be true). He also experienced moments when ancient Rome superimposed itself on 1974 California and he became Thomas, an early Christian being persecuted by the Romans, when he suddenly understood and spoke Koine Greek (called xenoglossia), and saw visions of Jesus Christ’s imminent return to the world.And before you say he obviously took too much LSD over the years, keep in mind this all happened AFTER he had given up amphetamines and dried out. Plus, if this is just a drug-induced trip, then PDK must be the most erudite and deeply-read philosopher-junkie of all time. His explorations cover Christian Gnosticism, Zoroastrianism, Zen Buddhism, the Old and New Testaments, Greek philosophers (Plato, Aristotle, and earlier thinkers), Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, Wagner’s opera Parsifal, and various musicians and writers of the time. AND HE ACTUALLY TRIES TO CONNECT ALL THE DOTS BETWEEN. If that doesn’t prove he was losing his mind, what does???There isn’t much point in describing the plot of VALIS. It is the rambling and bizarre religious and philosophical discussions of the characters as they struggle to try to understand why human beings must suffer and inflict hurt on themselves and those around them. If there is a divine being, a creator, why does it allow people to do this to themselves? This is hilariously summed up by PKD’s cynical friend Kevin, whose cat ran into the street and was run over by a car. Kevin repeatedly says that if he ever has an opportunity to confront the creator after death, he plans to whip out the body of his dead cat from his coat and demand, “Why did my cat have to die?”The best parts of the book are the talks between narrator Philip K. Dick, his alter-ego Horselover Fat (Philip in Greek means “fond of horses” and “dick” is German for “fat”) his friend Kevin (modeled after writer KW Jeter), and Catholic friend David (modeled after writer Tim Powers). They are all very supportive of Fat after he first loses a close friend Gloria to suicide, another self-destructive friend Sherri to cancer, and his wife Beth who leaves him and takes his infant son Christopher.Apparently Fat is irresistibly drawn to helping others, hopeless cases in particular, and then gets dragged down by their various psychoses. It is after Gloria’s suicide that PKD’s personality first cracks and gives rise to Horselover Fat, who is crushed by Gloria’s suicide and is then subject to all the bizarre hallucinations, visions, and pink lasers. PKD is his friend and confidant, who can view Fat’s travails and mental struggles from a safe distance, and watch him toil away fruitlessly at his Exegesis each night, pining away for the women in his life who keep causing him grief and guilt for being unable to save them. There is a very powerful moment toward the end of the book when this schizophrenic gulf seems to have finally been healed after 8 years of struggle, only to relapse once more after a moment of divine salvation is inexplicably snatched away again.So what does VALIS all add up to? Does any of this crazy, deranged, home-brewed philosophic mish-mash make any sense without mind-altering drugs? BEATS THE HELL OUTTA ME. But what a wild and brilliantly-twisted mind it takes to try to make any sense of such a convoluted, frustrating, lonely and often despairing life story. The pink laser is just the trigger for a whole host of other thoughts on the underlying reality that is forever occluded to us mere mortals except for brief bursts of pure information from VALIS. To give a sense of PKD’s Exegesis, here are some sample passages:(Excerpts from Tractates Cryptica Scriptura, appendix to VALIS)No.14: The universe is information and we are stationary in it, not three-dimensional and not in space or time. The information fed to us we hypostatize into the phenomenal world.” “No.30: The phenomenal world does not exist; it is a hypostasis of the information processed by the Mind.” “No.38: From loss and grief the Mind has become deranged. Therefore we, as parts of the universe, the Brain, are partly deranged.”“No.39: Out of itself the Brain has constructed a physician to heal it. This subform of the Macro-Brain is not deranged; it moves through the Brain, as a phagocyte moves through the cardiovascular system of an animal, healing the derangement of the Brain in section after section. We know of its arrival here; we know it as Asklepios for the Greeks and as the Essenes for the Jews; as the Therapeutae for the Egyptians; as Jesus for the Christians.”“No.48: ON OUR NATURE. It is proper to say: 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 experiental information, and each of us possesses somewhat different deposits from all the other life forms, there is a malfunction—a failure—of memory retrieval. There lies the trouble in our particular subcircuit. "Salvation" through gnosis—more properly anamnesis (the loss of amnesia)—although it has individual significance for each of us—a quantum leap in perception, identity, cognition, understanding, world- and self-experience, including immortality—it has greater and further importance for the system as a whole, inasmuch as these memories are data needed by it and valuable to it, to its overall functioning.

  • Greg
    2019-01-20 07:58

    I semi-regularly freak out over my own consistency on goodreads. What do I do about reading a novel that is contained in a book with multiple novels, what cover do I choose, what about books that I read multiple times, do I keep the original date that I read it or update it to the newest date? So many stupid things to waste my time worrying about when there are so many other stupid things I could be wasting my time worrying about. For my own peace of mind, I'll state here that I read this book first in May of 2001, and then again in about October 2001, and then a third time this past week, January 2012. No one gives a shit about this, but it seems important that I make this all clear. The third time reading Valis though, is not as an individual novel, but as part of the Library of America Philip K. Dick collection, called something like Valis and other Later Novels, which is a lie, because it also contains The Maze of Death, which is a novel from the mid-1960's and firmly planted in Dick's more sci-fi period, but it does contain a bit of the same themes that Dick returned to in his later 'crazy' novels. Publicly, let me say I'm sorry Karen. I should have never recommended this novel to you. I love it, but I can see how it would be tedious to you. At least I see it now. If it makes you feel any better, maybe Philip K. Dick really did have a visionary experience and had the mysteries of the universe opened up to him, and if that is the case then time is a total illusion and you didn't really waste anytime at all reading the book, and soon the prison of our reality will be broken and we will all return to the true world where time and space don't exist. What is a few days of slogging through a book you didn't enjoy when a timeless eternity awaits?I don't know what to say about this book. It's a brilliant piece of insanity? It's a remarkable fictionalized auto-biography of the authors descent into insanity? It's amazing to me that he had the lucidity to see himself in the manner he does in this book and be able to write this book and still be in the grip of the problems he seemed to have had. He's so critical of himself and is calling bullshit about his own far-out theories, but still he was chugging along with his Exegesis and trying to grapple with the ideas his character Horselover Fat (Philip Dick) is trapped by. At the time I read Valis for the first time I was trapped in some of the same thought patterns that Horselover Fat is. I never thought I was contacted by a God-like entity, but my brain was fried on pre-Socratic cosmology. Whenever I want to tie my brain in knots I still return to trying to figure out what Parmenides could have meant in his "Poem". On one hand it's nonsense, the One, nothing changes, nothing moves, there is only the One, but on the other hand what does he really mean? He is the person who Plato writes as besting Socrates not once, but twice (can the Eleatic Stranger be anyone other than him, or one of his students?). The figure of Parmenides shuts down the young Socrates in Parmenides and again shows him that he is wrong in the Eleatic trilogy of dialogues that in the chronology of Socrates 'life' (life being here literary life, it's open to debate if any of the encounters with Socrates really happened or how they happened or if they are merely a literary device for Plato), come right before what make up the Pre-Trial, Trial and Death of Socrates. If you've read most of the big Plato dialogues you know that Socrates pretty much always wins, even when he is sentenced to die or actually drinks the hemlock, he still wins the philosophical arguments, he's always the wise 'foolish' type who through a few innocent questions tears down whole systems of thought and replaces them with his own. In his encounters with the philosopher from Elea though he is put up against the ropes and his own tricks are used against him. It's like Plato is saying at the base of your philosophy you were wrong, you were wrong when you started, and you were wrong at the end, and for your errors you are now sentenced to die, you corrupted the youth, not through what the Athenians tried you for, but for not getting what Parmenides meant. Add to Parmenides the cosmologies hinted at by Heraclitus, and more explicitly stated in the fragments of Empedocles and you get a very different view of the world then the dominant views that would take old in the 'mainstream' post-Socratic / Judea-Christian worldview. There were hold outs, Gnostic views and whatnot but they were generally snuffed out through orthodoxy to a relatively child-like and reassuring creation story that a majority of Americans still believe today. Look at Empedocles for example, this whole cosmology is based on the conflict between two poles, creation and destruction. Something coming together and something pulling everything apart. It's vague on details that we'd call scientific today, but it reads a whole lot like the big bang, with two forces, say gravity (through matter and the stars, light) playing against the repellent energy of dark matter. Everything gets destroyed at some point only to give birth to something new. I'm not saying the ancients knew more then we did, or that they were necessarily right or even that there was some grand conspiracy to 'cover-up' the truth or anything. It's just that when you start to see the ideas of the universe that were out there, we picked one of the dumber ones to believe in for a few thousand years. Might as well put the planet on the back of some fucking turtles. When you start thinking too much about some of the things the Pre-Socratics wrote you open yourself up to some very weird avenues of thoughts. To gerry-rig reality to fit into some of these 'theoretical' ideas you start calling an awful lot of things into question, and they can be fun little games to play in your head, but if you took them too far they are liable to drive you completely insane. I wasn't insane, I was just stuck in ideas of Idealism and the themes of this book were the type of things that I enjoyed amusing myself with, for quite a bit of grad school one point oh, I enjoyed sketching out what Parmenides could have meant more than I enjoyed actually doing the work I should have been doing, and got myself so confused with the ideas I was thinking about I couldn't even begin to write a simple paper about Parmenides for a class I was taking dealing solely with him and his appearance in Plato. I wasn't insane, but I was shut down (the Pre-Socratics weren't the only people giving my brain trouble, Deleuze and Levinas were also influencing me to play thought games that were making me totally unproductive). Shouldn't I be talking about the book though? No, but I guess I should Parts of the book deal with things like this. They are about the idea that the world we know is a corrupt version of Reality that we are imprisoned in. Philip K. Dick's crazy alter-ego, Horselover Fat is tuned into the 'real' state of the world when Valis, an entity not of this world, beams a pink light into his brain and reveals itself to him. The book is about what happens after you gain this kind of knowledge, and alone know the 'truth' about the world. It's about more than this, too. There are a lot of themes going on, and while I give this book five stars, if I'm honest about the overall structure of the book there are weak spots and loose ends that need tying up. There are corners Dick writes himself into that have no satisfying way out of. But for me at the time I first read this, it was like being turned on to a new author that was working on some of the same things that had been running through my head for the past year or so. I read it now as a fascinating picture of the author himself, and I'm in awe by the honesty in the book. Two more Philip K. Dick books to go and then I'll try to tackle the Exegesis.

  • karen
    2019-01-06 06:09

    enough, philip...

  • Apatt
    2019-01-16 09:57

    “Fat conceives of the universe as a living organism into which a toxic particle has come. The toxic particle, made of heavy metal, has embedded itself in the universe-organism and is poisoning it. The universe-organism dispatches a phagocyte. The phagocyte is Christ. It surrounds the toxic metal particle – the Black Iron Prison – and begins to destroy it.”Nope! No idea what that means. I haven’t a clue! And there are plenty more where that came from. A couple of years ago I made a start on VALIS, expecting more fun time craziness from PKD. I gave up on it after about 50 pages, more craziness than I bargained for, not much in the way of fun. VALIS, however, is generally well regarded, here on Goodreads the positive reviews far outweigh the negatives.VALIS tells the story of Horselover Fat (OK, that’s pretty LOL) who is hit by a mysterious pink beam of light which is packed with all kinds of info*. This starts Fat off on a spiritual quest to find the meaning of life, the truth behind reality. Joined by a few friends, they embark on a journey which will lead them to revelations, wisdom, rock stars, the Messiah and other ineffable things. Horselover assumes it was God who shot the pink beam at him, the beam is a data transmission which, among other things, showed him how to save his son from a terminal illness. The most interesting thing about Horselover Fat is that he is PKD, except when he isn’t! “But that’s you. “Philip” means “Horselover” in Greek, lover of horses. “Fat” is the German translation of “Dick”. So you’ve translated your name.”PKD wrote himself into VALIS as a major character. Sometimes the narrative is in the third person when it focuses on Horselover Fat, sometimes it is in the first person when PKD himself is in the narrative, interacting with the other characters, including Horselover. It makes perfect sense when you consider that both Horselover Fat and poor PKD are insane.Much of VALIS is PKD or Horselover Fat musing about reality, insanity, God etc. The first half of the book has very little in the way of plot, just pages and pages of philosophical musing, rambling and profound dialogue. At the risk of losing all my cred, I have to say this book was a terrible slog for me. However, this time I was determined to stay the course and finish the damn thing; because every now and then I see this book mentioned in sci-fi discussion forums, and if I don’t finish it this time I would be tempted to start on it again sometime in the future, and this must not happen! I don’t ever want to read this book again. I would love to rereadUbik,Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?,The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch etc. someday, but not this. I just love the 60s PKDs, weird but always entertaining. VALIS, on the other hand, does not read like a narrative half the time. I appreciate that most of my GR friends like it very much. Fair enough, whatever you guys are smoking, gimme some!Highly recommended for people who have been hit by a pink beam._________________Notes* VALIS has been described as “semi-autobiographical” as PKD believed he was hit by a pink beam of light in 1974 on two occasions. The beam also informed him of his son’s hitherto undetected illness which was then treated before it could become terminal.I did not mention the Gnostic aspect of VALIS because I have zero knowledge of Gnosticism. You may want to look for more knowledgeable reviews than this.Quotes“The universe is irrational because the mind behind it is irrational.” As is this entire book.“The cat which you see playing in the yard is the cat which played three hundred years ago.”"Time equals what the ancients called ‘astral determinism.’ The purpose of the mysteries was to free the initiate from astral determinism, which roughly equals fate."Say what?“I go to the movies to get away for a little while from all this nutso garbage that Fat here lays on us. ”This I can get behind.

  • nostalgebraist
    2019-01-13 05:50

    Philip K. Dick had a series of hallucinations in 1974 which presented themselves as encounters with the divine, specifically with a gnostic version of the divine. From that point until the end of his life, his mind was the setting for an elaborate conflict between his basically rational nature and the intense, undismissable sense that he had received a true mystical epiphany. This novel is a fictionalized elaboration and exploration of that conflict, one which is faithful to the content of Dick's actual delusions down to a great number of specific details.I'm fascinated by this kind of stuff -- I mean, by delusionally insane people who can successfully articulate the content of their delusions, and in whom there is some sort of inner conflict. So if I praise this book as a work of fiction, I may be committing the intentional fallacy. Who knows if I would have found it as impressive if I hadn't known about Dick's history? How much of its sense of weight and reality comes from the fact that it is autobiographical, and not from the words on the page? But I don't really think it matters. Read in light of Dick's condition -- which is how the vast majority of its readers will read it -- it's a hell of a book.This is only the second Dick book I've read, but given how much I've enjoyed those two books and how important he seems to be to many people, I want to say there's a certain special quality to Dick, one difficult to articulate, that makes him much more emotionally resonant than he sounds from a thumbnail sketch of his work. In that sketch, actually, he doesn't sound very good: a bunch of trippy stoner nonsense combined with a pulp style. Is that inaccurate? In one sense, not really. Dick's writing is pulpy, and he's part of the druggie canon for a reason.But there's a basic emotional force to his writing that isn't captured in that description. I don't know how to put it except that I feel like his books are capable of conveying something like a religious feeling to non-religious readers. (How many religious fans does Dick have, incidentally?) His books are driven by their bizarre concepts; unlike Borges, he doesn't leave out characterization entirely, but his characters are often flat -- many of the secondary characters in VALIS take on exactly the same stock role in every conversation -- and their emotions are driven by the plot in straightforward, unsurprising ways. This, however, feels right: the situations Dick invents are so exceptional that one feels they would reduce all of us to stock types. In the face of something like divine revelation, the details of character fade into the background.There is a deadpan, regular-guy tone to this book that is very likable, especially in combination with the bizarre subject matter. In the face of God -- Dick says -- we're all "regular." The fine distinctions that are the bread and butter of "serious literature" are simply invisible on the relevant scale. Which is to say that to call Dick a "pulp writer" is both accurate and very misleading. He writes pulp about the gnostic Godhead and it's beautiful and sad, and I couldn't imagine the same effect coming across with any other kind of writing.

  • Hadrian
    2019-01-24 06:00

    A common saying is that there is a thin line between genius and insanity. PKD turns the line into a 4D hypercube and goes on at length about Gnosticism, WWII battles, history, politics, drug culture, and its still incredibly interesting. I won't pretend to judge on the nature of what happened to him, but his books are as interesting to think about as ever.

  • Sean Wilson
    2019-01-09 02:45

    "The universe is information and we are stationary in it, not three dimensional and not in space or time." Philip K. Dick, Valis

  • Sara
    2019-01-16 07:59

    I hesitate to say this book disappointed me because it actually delighted me in a number of ways - its inventive first person/third person narrative voice, its delving into Gnostic philosophy, the funereal humor especially at play among the Rhipidon Society members. Phillip K. Dick gives his readers plenty to chew on, as usual, and the pseudo-autobiographical tone is intriguing. However, in this case I found his plot on the thin side. Now, I like idea-driven novels. I require no literary equivalent of car chases and explosions to keep me interested. I relish the mind games Phillip K. Dick plays with his reader and himself in exploring Horselover Fat's descent into (a perfectly sane, as it turns out) insanity. Perhaps what I missed in this novel, then, is not the dearth of plot, although I still stand by that assessment - it is thin the way an Aldous Huxley plot can be thin - built to convey philosophy and little else. And the plot-heavier portions of the novel, toward the end especially, seem only modestly thought-out, almost tacked on when the author realized he was almost done with his book and hadn't really told much of a story. That opinion notwithstanding, what I missed most was being taken into one of Phillip K. Dick's wonderfully crafted future worlds full of excellent detail - new powers-that-be, new slang, new drugs, old hangups. So perhaps a foiled expectation has disappointed me more than anything the author did or did not do, but I won't rate this book any higher than I already have. Expectations or no, I found VALIS far less compelling than I am used to finding Phillip K. Dick's novels. I think this, perversely, has to do with the fact that it purports to depict events from the author's own mental life. That should be fascinating, but in the case of VALIS it's like listening to someone describe a half-remembered dream in confused generalities that function as detail. You wish he would just stop. You've already gotten the idea as well as you ever will, but the description goes on. The nature of dreams is that they cannot be described well. Especially half-remembered ones. Dreams are experiential events. And so is Horselover Fat's insanity. So is faith. And so are human relationships, for that matter. Not that we shouldn't attempt to describe these things, but if one does so in the form of a novel, it is kinder to the reader to provide her some tangibles along with the intangibles, some details to sink her teeth into while she ponders the deeper meanings of all of the philosophy. Communicating through metaphor? Perhaps that's what I'm getting at. Otherwise, write a treatise, an essay, something meant to educate and not necessarily entertain. Phillip K. Dick usually excels in this department.All of this said, I will still surely read The Divine Invasion.

  • Wanda
    2018-12-26 10:46

    Well, that was weird. If literature is a way for us to commune with the minds of others, I guess those others don’t necessarily need to be sane. In fact, Philip K. Dick (and his alter ego, Horselover Fat) are both pretty up front about the fact that he/they are not mentally well.Despite his mental illness and years of drug use, Dick can write! VALIS seems to be his dissertation on his mental illness and it is a pretty lucid and rational analysis of his own state. It kept me reading for 271 pages despite the fact that hardly anything actually happens. A vast portion of the book happens only in the author’s head, thinking about his theories about nature of the world, religion, and life and musing on his personal visions. He reveals himself as a philosopher and a student of religion who has obsessively studied more texts that I ever knew existed.Many people call this the master work of PKD. I still don’t know how I feel about that—it is certainly his manifesto. I find it interesting that he was repeatedly advised to “give up dope and stop trying to help other people.” I’ve never had the dope issue, but I do remember avoiding my own troubles by poking my nose into other people’s business—and like PKD’s therapists, I do not recommend this line of avoidance. Despite the fact that it is easier than tackling you own issues and gives you a feeling of virtue for “helping” others. Much better to tackle your problems head on and let others do the same. I will take with me this truth from page 80: “Reality is that which when you stop believing in it, it doesn’t go away.”

  • Maureen
    2019-01-14 09:44

    VALIS stands for vast active living intelligence system. it is also a trigger to my crazy. i am a perfect breeding ground for it: i read a lot of gnostic texts in university, and struggled against tipping points when i read the book within franny and zooey "the way of the pilgrim" and when i saw mike leigh's film, "naked" and it made me think many crazy things, like chernobyl means wormwood, and the disaster was the third trumpet. when i first read VALIS, i embraced it. i could feel it insinuating itself into how i thought; my regular, relatively logical self slipping into the hub in my mind where reason and faith collide, bend back and forth in their struggle to exist in my susceptible brain. and every subsequent complete or near-attempt to read it is the same, i start to slip, and think i cannot accept but neither can i live without, believing in something very like VALIS. the last few times i've tried to re-read it, i've stopped reading. i feel its serpentine, and usually somebody who knows better says, "why are you reading that again? that book makes you crazy!" and i realize they're right, and i'm better off not going down this road again. and yet for all that, remembering VALIS makes me happy. from a safe distance, and attempted atheism, i can recall i enjoyed being horselover fat talking to friends about pre-socratics and gnosticism, death and life, coincidence and fate, about miracles in pink lights, and magical-pseudo david bowie, the man who fell to earth. if you're somebody who can read about these things without succumbing to them, i heartily recommend this book. if you find them crazy-making, consider this a warning. greg's review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... actually helped me figure out how to articulate this. thanks, greg!

  • Nate D
    2019-01-12 10:11

    Religion is a form of schizophrenia. Consider: an attempt to make absolute sense of the world, fitting its endless random details into a coherent overall pattern. Which am I describing? It's no surprise that religious delusion figures so prominently on psychiatric wards -- they're categorically made for eachother. Beside the psychiatric ward in this novel, see also Anne Quin's The Unmapped Country, which I finished immediately before this, or pretty much any other example.As a novel, this fits reasonably into the fictionalized-personal-account-of-mental-health-struggles tradition, but it's also much more layered than most -- post-modern sci-fi memoir and paranoid theoretical discourse. I especially appreciate how the author/narrator warns us about his own madness, first compartmentalizing it in a sub-character but later getting taken over entirely by its own counter-theories.Or perhaps this is much better: Schizophrenia is a form of religion.

  • Matthew
    2018-12-30 04:43

    It's a well known fact that science fiction authors often do their best work when they're straying into quasi-religious territory (think Dune, Stranger in a Strange Land, etc.). It's also well known that crazy people make the best conspiracy theorists. So when Philip K. Dick, an extremely crazy, extremely talented sci-fi author writes a book about religion-as-conspiracy, it's a safe bet that some serious head-messing is about to ensue.Someone (I think it was Ursula LeGuin) once remarked that Philip K. Dick was the American version of Borges, and this observation is at least half right. Like Borges, PKD is obsessed with themes of identity, memory, time and alternate realities. But where Borges' writing is a series of extraordinarily controlled thought-experiments, Philip K. Dick is one of the least controlled writers I've ever encountered; he seems to be at the mercy of his plots, the words pouring out of him helter-skelter, and the the identity and memory that he questions is clearly his own.Valis is arguably his best book, and in every respect it's a wild -- and disturbing -- ride. To summarize the plot almost feels like an exercise in futility, but in brief it revolves around the experiences of one Horselover Fat, aka Philip K. Dick, who is shot by God, aka an ancient satellite orbiting Earth, with a beam of pure reason in the form of a pink laser which causes him to slip in time between 1970s California and ancient Rome. But this really doesn't do justice to the weirdness and occasional startling insight of the novel. Theologically, Valis reads a little like Gnosticism for Dummies but that's not necessarily a bad thing, since Gnosticism for Serious People probably would involve lengthy passages in Greek, Latin, Aramaic, and various fiendishly elaborate codes developed by secretive monks with too much time on their hands. At the end of the day though, what makes this book interesting isn't it's theology or even its plot, but as a portrayal of one man's struggle with the possibility of having an immediate encounter with God -- a notion that, these days, seems far stranger than any acid trip.

  • Amber
    2018-12-29 05:54

    Yesterday I started AND finished one of PKD's most profound works. I literally could not put it down. Painful, REAL, bittersweet, funny as hell, bizarre, brilliant, utterly profound. I always find it hard to write about a PKD experience because they are all life-altering, and I truly mean that. I think most scifi folks love his work before 1974 because it's simply FANTASTIC WRITING. Everything after 1974, I believe, is for the die-hards only. For people like me, who have not only read a lot of his stuff, but all the biographies, all the articles written about him (especially the famous Rolling Stone article), watched more than one documentary, and have actually tried to read his exegesis. I firmly believe in separating the art from the artist. Not every great author out there is as interesting as his works. PKD is a rare exception; and it's not like his life was some fairy tale. His life was a tragedy--desperately poor, plagued with numerous neuroses, enormous relationship problems, and of course drugs (but probably not the ones you think). But he is everyman, and his struggle through life triumphs with the amazing body of work he left behind.VALIS is a true look into PKD's life about a year before he died. A lot of the details in the book actually happened to him, although you would have to read more than one bio to know that. Without all this background knowledge, I'm afraid this book will seem rather odd to the average reader. But to the average dick-head (PKD fanatic), buckle your seat belts because this is quite a ride.I asked my friend yesterday, "Is it possible to miss someone you never met?"God, I miss Phil.

  • Terence Blake
    2019-01-14 03:03

    VALIS: ESTRANGEMENT vs ALIENATIONI cannot review VALIS objectively, as it is a book that belongs to no pre-existing category, combining elements of autobiography, philosophy, science-fiction, gnostic theology, psychoanalysis,and existential self-construction. Like the recently published EXEGESIS it takes its origin in the need to understand and respond to the events of February and March 1974 (which Dick called 2-3-74). He was irradiated by a brilliant pink light emanating from a Christian fish-symbol (ichthys) necklace worn by a young woman. He had a series of visions over the next two months, and spent the rest of his life trying to understand them.The novel splits Dick into two characters: the narrator, Philip K Dick, a moderately successful science-fiction writer; and Horselover Fat his crazy illuminated friend, to whom the visions arrived, and whose life became a quest to resolve their enigma. The principal framework of explanation is a science-fictional variant of gnostic cosmology in which this universe has been constructed by a false, evil and crazy, god, which explains all the irrationality and the suffering that it contains. The world is the Black Iron Prison, and we are its suffering prisoners. The true God is outside the universe and breaking through to heal it and us in various ways, including the pink light that Dick experienced.After many surreal experiences and visions the book ends with the narrator, Philip K. Dick, sitting before the TV, watching and waiting. He is clear that this is his way of continuing the search and keeping to his mission: keeping awake and open.I think many of us experience moments of revelatory intensity and also of intense despair at the emprisonment of our daily lives and of our very selves. Jodorowsky speaks movingly about just such a feeling of the mind in prison. I first read VALIS in 1981, when it first came out. I was all alone in a student room in a god-forsaken empty outer suburb of Paris, unable to speak French, dreaming repeatedly of being shut up in a prison that was shrinking and squashing me out of existence. I empathised with the Gnostics and their idea of this life as a prison. I read VALIS and it spoke to me instantly and deeply.My "pink light" came at a moment of extreme existential and intellectual isolation in my birthplace, in Sydney: I read Deleuze and Guattari's ANTI-OEDIPUS, and it changed my life. I left Sydney for Paris, attended Deleuze's lectures for 6 years, and finally took on French nationality, moved to Nice, and settled down as an English teacher on the French Riviera. And I'm still trying to understand what happened to me.Dick's novel opens with the beginnings of his eventual crack-up and suicide attempt: "Horselover Fat's nervous breakdown began the day he got the phonecall from Gloria asking if he had any Nembutals. He asked her why she wanted them and she said that she intended to kill herself." This is no message from a divine light, but the beginning of a soul-destroying relationship with a toxic, thanatotic individual, whose name "Gloria" is an ironic mockery of her real state and aims.The novel ends with an optimistic phonecall from Horselover Fat reporting on his quest to find the 5th Messiah: "one day I got a phonecall from Horselover Fat: a phonecall from Tokyo. He sounded healthy and excited and full of energy, and amused at my surprise to be hearing from him."The split between Dick and Fat continues, but it enriches his life instead of despairing it. Eros (and estrangement) has come to win out over thanatos (and alienation). After all the speculations and synchronicities, after all the encounters both toxic and salvific, there is no final explanation only a new sense of optimism and openness: "My search kept me at home; I sat before the TV set in my living room. I sat; I waited; I watched; I kept myself awake. As we had been told, originally, long ago, to do; I kept my commission."

  • Lee Foust
    2019-01-01 08:04

    VALIS is an intensely rational portrait of a kind of madness, of doubling, doppelgangers, and split personalities, of reality, coincidence, and paranoia, of messages, everyday life, and divine intervention. That makes the novel sound a bit better than it actually is. The narrative is an odd mix of petty, personal problems--a friend's suicide, another dying of cancer, the (well, one half of) the protagonist's marital problems--and living gnostic revelation and knowledge. I mean, was God even possible in 1974? Seems unlikely to me.In terms of form, the novel is all conversational. This is disarming when the hand of God/VALIS steps in to disrupt Orange County 1974 with the blue light of revelation. But perhaps that's how such things happen to the enlightened. Never having been shown the rending of the veil, I cannot say. The reasonable and personal tone is, however, perfect for speaking so intimately about the split personality of the narrator, who is BOTH Phillip K. Dick and his other half Horselover Fat (a translation of Philip from the Greek and Dick from German). I admired the technique of the narrator telling us that he both is and is not Fat, that they are depicted by turns as the same person and not the same person, depending upon the mental health of the author/narrator. It gives you a real sense of a mind divided between our so-called "Observable reality" and the truth of our limited perceptions and how some arrive at points of departure from what the rest of us more or less agree to call "The truth." The disarming technique of describing what anyone on the outside would call irrationality in a rational, educated, and personal manner brought home the dire stakes of mental illness. Knowing that you are mad does not effect the madness. This is so hard to take when one is on the outside of the reasoning of the illness itself and teaches us much about our mental concept of reality and how deeply flawed our senses and brian are in registering the world around us yet how secure we feel in these limited perceptions, impressions, and our interpretations of them.It should be noted, for the literati, that such an interior narrative technique is all tell and no show, and would certainly induce vomiting in Iowa Writers' Workshop zombies, and that I enjoyed the technique very much. Writing is too important to sully with rules. I mean to say, I know I've only given this three stars, but it's a million times better than anything Cormac McCarthy or Paul Auster has ever written. I enjoyed it up to a point. It got a bit tedious towards the end as there's not much in the way of event--a sparkle off of a necklace, a super-wise two year old's conversation--but I did get caught up in that rational voice telling me so many things that cannot be, that I believe cannot be, that I realized we don't really know much of anything, but arrive at reality almost wholly through our imagination. This would be, I guess, why I prefer novels to the texts of those in denial of this, the so-called non-fiction books.

  • Simon
    2019-01-02 02:51

    The book that profiles the author's descent into madness. He both narrates the story as himself and is also another character, "Horselover Fat", who whilst we are told he is the same person, interacts with the narrator as seperate person. Presumably indicative of PKD's own split personality disorder?I don't know how much of this we are to take as real, or at least PKD's genuine belief as to what's real, but we can either take it as the whole world being insane with messages and signs of rationality that only a few are aware of, that are indicative of our impending release from our self imposed prison. Or this could be about what it's like when you suffer from mental illness, how you feel sane; it's just everyone else around you that seems crazy and how you will always be able see things around you in a way that re-inforces your paranoid fantasies.I think PKD intended this ambiguity but I think he genuinely believed that it was in fact real, that he had had a genuine insight into the true nature of reality and, in laying down his tractus, was sharing his insights with the world. He just went into it in too much depth and was the intense focus of too much of the book to have been something that he didn't genuinely believe in.The book started and ended well but too large a part in the middle just didn't make good story telling and was just him trying to get across his crack pot ideas. This was a real disappointment for me as I had really high hopes for this book. A Scanner Darkly is one of my all time favourite SF stories and I thought this one might be along similar lines. But I think PKD was just a bit too far gone over into madness when he came to writing this and unfortunately wasn't, for me at least, nearly as effective.

  • Ben
    2019-01-01 06:42

    I'm a PKD fan but didn't like this one at all. Yes, it has an interesting structure and the fractured POV of the protagonist/narrator is a pretty nifty device. Yes, it is semi-autobiographical and was written as a way for him to deal with what was perceived as an encounter with some higher form of life but was most likely the manifestation of a psychological breakdown. Unfortunately, much of the book is an utterly incoherent mish-mash of Dick's various philosophical ponderings from towards the end his life. These are hung as required upon the barest of actual plot and character progression. Dick was at his best in works where he used genre fiction as the mechanism to explore his philosophy and paranoia, such as The Man in the High Castle, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and A Scanner Darkly. He simply did not have the skill as a writer for the more direct approach used here. It is worth a look for PKD completionists and those interested more specifically in the period leading up to his death, otherwise I would recommend readers look elsewhere in his body of work.

  • Ray
    2019-01-01 10:44

    What an amazing mindfuck of a book. Few are worth as many rereads as this. The pinnacle of P.K. Dick, and his most semi-autobiographical at that.You'd think it might be heavy to swallow what with all the in-depth theological themes overlapped with mental illnesses and suicide. Yet somehow it's also funny at the same time as being profound. The apparent plot doesn't really kick off until halfway through, concerning a David Bowie-esque figure meeting with our confused narrator and someone may or may not be the messiah. It's fine that this plot begins halfway through.And Horselover Fat and Phillip K. Dick, just how does it work? Prepare for a beam of pink light, KING FELIX, dead cats and remember that fish cannot carry guns...Lastly, or rather not. Can't even going to get into the Exegesis for the purposes of this meager review.

  • Sandi
    2019-01-08 10:06

    You can see that Horselover Fat is based on PKD himself within the first few lines which gave me a lot of hope for this book as he did some of his best writing when he was out of his head. I can pretty much say I was let down. I don't mind a difficult read but this was painful at times and there were parts of PKD's psyche I really didn't want to see. I'm also not always enamoured of author's spiritual journeys disguised as something else even if the journey is into madness. Despite this he can still write and write well. He draws his characters well with his prose and at times is still able to build the tension he could easily master in his older works. It just didn't help save this in my opinion.I'll read the other three in the trilogy eventually as I've wanted to read all his works good or bad but I think that will be in a distant future.

  • Melki
    2018-12-28 06:08

    I know Philip K. Dick is a revered pillar of the science fiction community, but I truly despised this book. Self-indulgent, and packed with religious claptrappery, it was a chore to read. Female characters existed solely as a source of aggravation. Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, in chapter 12, the main character/author forces his son to take part in a bizarre communion ritual...lovely. You don't even want to know what happens to the savior/child in chapter 13. If I want to read about child abuse and misogyny, I'll muddle through the Bible.

  • Derek
    2018-12-28 10:03

    If you like Dan Brown, this is much better and at least as believable. If you don't like Dan Brown, well, at least this is much better... Unfortunately, I grew out of the teenage existential angst over three decades ago.

  • Giorgi Baskhajauri
    2018-12-25 09:01

    ყველაზე რთულად შესაფასებელი ნაწარმოებია, ამის მიზეზი ის არის, რომ იძლევა მრავალგვარი ინტერპრეტირების საშუალებას ან საერთოდაც შეუძლებელია რაიმე სახის ინტერპრეტაცია. ერთადერთი რაც დანამდვილებით ვიცი არის ის რომ ნაწარმოების იდეის ყველაზე უკეთ ამოხსნა, რაციონალური საფუძვლის უარყოფით შეიძლება, რადგან პერსონაჟის მდგომარეობაც ამგვარია, სიგიჟის ზღვარზე მყოფი ცდილობს მონახოს ლოგიკური ჯაჭვი ქაოსში, რომელიც გარს ახვევია.

  • Alatea
    2019-01-22 02:47

    It's not you, it's me.There were some good things about the book (e.g. style), but I was struggling through it in just to find out what the f**k was happening. But nah, it wasn't really worth struggling.However, I imagine that some people would find Valis highly interesting. Just not me.

  • Hertzan Chimera
    2019-01-15 06:59

    CURRENTLY RE-READING VALIS, but this was my initial (vicious, or empathy-free) review."It is about madness, pain, deception, death, obsessive delusory states of mind, cruelty, solitude, imprisonment, and it is a joy to read." quotes The Washington Post on the cover of VALIS. One can only wonder which of Philip K. Dick's books this review blurb was borrowed from. Horselover Fat (a kinky replicant of Philip K. Dick's name) is having woman trouble. He is having money trouble. He is having severe mental health trouble; not a surprise with all the drugs he's swallowing. Sounds like the life of a self-disrespecting writer on planet Earth. But there's a difference. Fat has 'seen the light'. Fat has found God. Or rather God has found Horselover Fat - in the form of a blinding bright pink laser beam of cosmic information. Sounds like a good premise for a good book, right?VALIS hails from the critically-acclaimed golden era of Philip K Dick's 30-year writing output, alongside his books The Three Stigmata Of Palmer Eldritch and A Scanner Darkly. I'd been trying to get hold of a copy of VALIS for a few years already. I finally got a copy and the book is shit. Well, the first 48 pages are truly stagnant, let's say. A brave editor would have insisted VALIS started on the second paragraph of page 48, "Fat had never been locked up before." as that's where the actual story (if you can call it that) seems to begin. It's the same thing with the way Dick confesses early on that Horselover Fat is as an externalised aspect of himself. It breaks the agreement with the reader that he is here to read something truly mind-blowing. Already you've crushed all confidence that Dick can deliver. The book has already failed. Disbelief has been cruelly suspended. Dick is admitting that this isn't an entertainment as are most of his other books. Dick is confessing that he's burnt out. He has nothing more to say. He is over as a human being and as a writer. Spent. A cranky dry husk.But read on and you'll be further disappointed that the 'story' actually goes nowhere. There's nothing to say other than Philip K. Dick went a bit mad eventually and thought writing it all down would be a good idea for fans of his fiction. Throughout this turgid purgatory of a book, detailed reference is made to Horselover Fat's scientific/ religious 'Exegesis' - this is actually a notebook Philip K. Dick had been adding to for the last ten years as well as writing about 20 books. From the examples delivered here, one can only estimate how utterly tedious that 8,000 page tome is gonna be.Both are a criminal case of the writer getting in the way of his writing - it's about too much thought going into what is usually (or so it seems for Dick) a truly spontaneous, creative process. Let's just say Dick is lucky VALIS is not this reviewer's first experience of his writing style or many great books would have been needlessly neglected. Looking at the (familiar) cover art again, I remember now that I'd tried to read this unforgivably boring book about 15 years ago and didn't get very far into it back then. I got further this time but the work hasn't mellowed with age, it's just got more painful. As a side project I'd recently thumbed through Emmanuel Carrere's I Am Alive And You Are Dead : A Journey Into The Mind Of Philip K. Dick, and was far more entertained by that external rendering of Dick's fateful life than VALIS' internal outpouring from the horse's mouth (so to speak). But there are (with classic PKD irony) a couple of laughs here and there along the way in this dire tale of a human life gone wrong hence this charitable score.

  • Riona
    2019-01-03 11:10

    I think I would have to read this a second time to truly understand it. Or maybe this is the kind of book where you just don't "get it", that's the point. In all honesty, I had been looking forward to reading this for so long that I came away slightly underwhelmed. That's not to say I didn't enjoy it, because I did immensely, but I didn't think it was the PKD masterpiece everyone else seems to. I preferred Ubik and A Scanner Darkly. Maybe after a re-read a few years down the line my opinion will change.This is definitely one of those twisty-turny rambling novels that will pulverize your brain and cause you to question the nature of reality. Written late in Dick's life, after he had renounced drugs and started experimenting with God instead, this semi-autobiographical story relates the religious experience of Horselover Fat (who is really PKD's alter-ego after he had a psychotic break following his friend's suicide), who saw a beam of pink light that he referred to as Zebra (later VALIS) and it transmitted information to him that helped him save his dying son, who he didn't even know was sick. Yeah. And then there's some stuff about ancient Christians and double helixes and crazy rock star filmmakers and AIs inside of little girls. See why I might need a re-read?Oh PKD, you so crazy.