The popular Philip K. Dick movies are just one side of the science fiction author. Paranormal events haunted him throughout his life. Learn how these strange encounters influenced his work. Films have been based on his supernatural experiences. Blade Runner, adapted twice; Total Recall, adapted twice; The Adjustment Bureau and Minority Report, to name a few. Some have called him a prophet.
A full time writer, Philip K. Dick lived from paycheck to paycheck in an era when Science Fiction was considered the lowest of literary endeavors. He won those prizes most coveted by science fiction authors… a Cambell award, Nebula awards and Hugo awards, one of which was for “The Man in the High Castle”, a tale of alternate Earth history in which the Axis powers had won the Second World War.
In 1974 Philip was recovering from a wisdom tooth extraction and he was in pain. He received a pharmacy delivery at the front door of his California home. The woman delivering the scrip was wearing a necklace bearing the Ichthys, that fish symbol seen on the back bumpers of cars, the symbol by which first century Christians identified themselves, before it was replaced by the icon of the cross. Sunlight reflected from the gold pendant and he was temporarily blinded by a beam of pink light.
Suddenly he was transported two thousand years into the past. He found himself standing on a road paved with stone in ancient Rome. He saw soldiers standing guard at the front gate of a prison. He feared detection by the Romans, for he was now one of those early worshippers who communicated with cryptic signs. Suddenly he was returned safely to his 20th century home.
Dick realized the pink light was an intelligent entity, which had invaded and then merged with his own mind. It changed his personality permanently. Before, he never bothered to collect old debts. Now he began to track down the editors who had failed to send him checks. Before, he subsisted on a diet of ham sandwiches and Frito Lay corn chips. He began eating healthier foods, foregoing burgers in favor of vegetarian jicama salads.
But he also began to share his life with the citizen of ancient Rome, whose body he had occupied, and whose name was Thomas. Dick was often unable to drive, when Thomas could not understand the pedals in the car. In Dick’s private journals he wrote almost half a million words on this part of his life.
He invented an acronym for the pink beam entity, who was the other cohabitant of his brain… VALIS… which stood for the “Vast Active Living Intelligence System”. One evening VALIS told Philip that his son was in great danger from a Diaphragmatic hernia. He rushed his son Christopher to a hospital emergency room. The doctors were skeptical when Dick told them in medical terms of his son’s condition. Yet the diagnosis proved accurate. If Christopher’s badly infected hernia had not been treated, the child would have died within days.
35 years ago, after completing an optimistic interview about the upcoming release of Blade Runner, the first movie to be made from one of his novels, Dick was having trouble focusing his eyes. His doctor advised him to go to a hospital immediately. He did not. The next day he was found unconscious on the floor of his Santa Ana home, having suffered a fatal stroke. He was 53 years old. A portion of his voluminous personal journals was published posthumously in the book “Exigesis”. A recurring theme in “Exegesis” is that history has changed very little since the first century A.D., and that the Roman Empire never ended. He saw Rome as the pinnacle of materialism.
The Roman Empire forced the Gnostic believers underground, and ever since has kept humanity enslaved to worldly possessions. That part of his personality which he knew as VALIS had encouraged Philip K. Dick to work for the impeachment of the sitting U.S. President, who was but the lastest incarnation of the Emperor of Rome.
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