Spirituality as Truth in Philip K. Dick’s Valis

Spirituality as Truth in Philip K.jpg

If authors follows their obsessions, then Philip K. Dick is obsessed with drugs, spirituality, and aliens. The thing I love most about Philip K. Dick is that he doesn’t pull punches.

We are talking about Christ. He is an extra-terrestrial life form which came to this planet thousands of years ago, and, as living information, passed into the brains of human beings already living here, the native population. We are talking about interspecies symbiosis. (111)

I think this statement affronts almost every religion, but Dick doesn’t hold back, instead he embraces the spirit of the piece and delves head-first into the mind of a schizophrenic. I admire writers who take on tough subjects but talk about it in terms anyone can understand. By coming at religion from a new perspective, Dick was able to say Christ is an alien.

I admire writers who take on tough subjects but talk about it in terms anyone can understand.



In the beginning, Horselover Fat is institutionalized because he attempts suicide. While in lockup, he has a moment of revelation:

You fool, Fat thought. You fucking fool. God is here in your goddam mental hospital and you don’t know it; you see it but you don’t know it. You have been invaded and you don’t even know it. (52)

Fat recognizes that God is everywhere, even in a mental ward, and the psych tech, a representative of the institution, does not. This begs the question who is sane: the one with the power or the one with the knowledge of spirituality?

Throughout the piece, secondary characters either bring Fat up or lower his belief in himself. Dr. Stone is one who heals: “Fat realized that Stone had restored his … spiritual life. Stone had saved him; he was a master psychiatrist” (65). Stone tells Fat that: “’You’re the authority’” (65). Stone was just doing his job, but Fat came to an understanding which made him believe in himself. In a later section, Maurice, Fat’s councilor hurts him rather than helps: “Maurice, in attempting to help him, had accidentally erased Fat’s bastion of security” (88). Faith in the self is one of the spiritual principles that this book talks about—faith in the self over faith in religion outside of the self. It gets so bad that Fat doesn’t want to commit suicide in fear, not of death, but that “Maurice would require of him another list” (94). The list referred to is a list of things to live for, and Fat doesn’t have a lot of them. He’s just trying to figure out the puzzle in front of him and get to an answer.

Logically Fat crosses time with Thomas, an early Christian who is smarter than Fat(110). It is Thomas, not Fat, who reasons out what happened to Fat.

The promise of eternal life which Christ held out to his little flock was no hoax. Christ had taught them how to do it; it had to do with the immortal plasmate which Fat talked about, the living information slumbering at Nag Hammadi century after century. (111)

Dick uses logical links to strengthen the believability of Fat’s position. It makes sense if Chris is an alien that he would have extraterrestrial knowledge and technology which could help his followers.

By writing the story from a schizophrenic viewpoint, this novel can be taken on two levels: the face level is that this is just a story and anyone who tripped out on drugs in the 1970s could have come up with similar stories. The other, deeper, answer is that there are other answers. But truth isn’t limited to a religion. As Kevin says, “This isn’t limited to any one country or culture or religion. Sorry David” (174). I got a mashup of knowledge from this piece including ideas for new technology to use in my own book, but the thing that keeps coming back to me is: what was that pink light of knowledge?

I rated this book 4 stars.




Works Cited

Dick, Philip K. Valis. New York: Vintage Books, 1991. Print.


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About Darlene Reilley

Hey, I'm Darlene, a nomadic writer and teacher. If you're looking for writing prompts, inspiration, and a fellow writer to commiserate with, you've come to the right place. If you're a reader looking for a fun mix of poetry, romance, science and fiction, you've found a buddy!
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1 Response to Spirituality as Truth in Philip K. Dick’s Valis

  1. Pingback: June Roundup | Dar Writes

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