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The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  786 ratings  ·  107 reviews
Based on thousands of pages of typed and handwritten notes, journal entries, letters, and story sketches, The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick is the magnificent and imaginative final work of an author who dedicated his life to questioning the nature of reality and perception, the malleability of space and time, and the relationship between the human and the divine. Edited and i ...more
Hardcover, 976 pages
Published November 8th 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published January 1st 2011)
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S.R.Gyory S.R.Gyory Start with his collected short stories. That's where he excelled. His novels were all pretty much just him re-wrapping his life into narrative form to…moreStart with his collected short stories. That's where he excelled. His novels were all pretty much just him re-wrapping his life into narrative form to satisfy his publisher. The VALIS trilogy, which he wrote at the end of his life, is probably the most accomplished, but all his novels are fun once you understand the man.

Maybe read his biography too; his life was CRAZY!(less)

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Oct 19, 2013 rated it liked it
Philip K. Dick was a fascinatingly weird guy.

In other reviews about a PKD novel like Ubik or The Man in the High Castle I have invited new readers to come and try with the offer that this was a good introduction to Dick’s work. The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick will get no such invitation, this is advanced PKD study. But for a true fan, who has read much of his work and who will appreciate the references to many of his novels, this is a taxing but ultimately rewarding graduate level course.

Taken from a wea
Mar 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This wasn’t an easy book to read. Lacking in structure, consistency, or even payoff, one has to wonder what could be the point in reading it. And yet, I’ve read it twice and now I’ve changed my rating to 5 stars. What gives?

“So,” I asked myself, “How did you like the book?”
I needed to look at myself for several minutes to let the meaning of my statement sink in. A pink beam of light streamed into my skull and gave me visions of post-modern paintings at the rate of three-million per second, on
Apr 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book will not be for everyone, not even PKD fans. The book is tasking and frustrating and at times mind boggling. This is not one of Mr. Dick's novels, though I believe he poured out ideas for his novels in this context. He expounded on these ideas, he contradicts these ideas, rejected these ideas and kept on documenting more ideas and thoughts than one would believe would be humanly and sanely possible.

The man was brilliant, fascinating, engaging, creative and perhaps the most insightful
Nov 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
For any reader who is unfamiliar with the author Philip K. Dick and his many published stories, I hope that after reading this article you realize what you are missing and you subsequently work to resolve the matter of this deficiency immediately. In other words, please find Dick's novels and read them as if you have been touched by madness. Be a voracious reader with an insatiable appetite for knowledge. You cannot miss the brilliance of this author.
Philip K. Dick passed away a few decad
Felix Hayman
Nov 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Ok, be prepared to be afraid.Phil Dick was never easy reading, was never an easy person to know and never had any easy answers. His close reading of the Gnostics and Jung and the Cosmologists lead to the writing of VALIS and this (shortened) version of his thoughts on God, The Gnostics and cosmology.It is not an easy read because Phil Dick is so distracted that thoughts come thick and fast and although overlaid with his undoubted scholarship they lack a lot of rigour, both in their theological s ...more
Jim Elkins
Dec 10, 2017 added it
Shelves: american
A Complex Confusion of Fiction, Nonfiction, and Revelation

I'm studying this as part of my project of reading long, complex texts (see notes on Burton's "Anatomy of Melancholy," Szentkuthy's "Prae," Nabokov's notes on "Eugene Onegin"). Dick's "exegesis" of several irrational, mystical or revelatory experiences he had in February and March 1974 occupied him for the remainder of his life; this is a 940-page excerpt from 8,000 pages of notes.

The book has received some s
Jan 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
[review 1]

[review 2]
Every man and woman is a star.

[review 3]
There he said it, Valis is true. What else to do want? What else could you possible want?

[review 4]
If the original document is 9,000 pages there had to be a lot more editors than just PJ and JL. And there were, and they are credited by only PJ and JL are on the jacket. I’m guessing PJ did most work and JL has the most name recognition.

[review 5]

[review/> ...more
Mar 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: hardcover, first
Sure, I read it. All of it. Difficult to review.

I don't feel it was meant to be published in this way, though the editors did a great job making something surprisingly readable out of the whole mess, and provided excellent notes to explain things, I felt perhaps, might have been obtuse.

There is definitely genius there: great research and remarkable associations made. This is perhaps PKD's primary talent, but it is in my opinion, more a study of one who may be falling into
Quinn da Matta
May 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing


His opinions/views/beliefs may - at first - seem delusional and paranoid but, the moment you allow him to validate his opinions, a lot of it begins to make sense.

Not an easy read - like reading a complex text book - but, totally worth the time and effort. After reading this, I feel a little more enlightened and open to the world around me.
M.L. Rudolph
Dec 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
2011. When time stops, "the substrate is revealed." So begins this edition of PKD's end-of-life compulsion to understand the revelation he experienced in February 1974 then again in March. He may have seen through to the underlying reality of, well, our perception of reality. Or he may have had a small stroke. Or he may have had an acid flashback. Or he may have been visited by a superior intelligence.

PKD explores every possible angle for his sudden insight by writing mostly by hand
May 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I started reading this the day that Bowie died. It is pretty amazing, genius and very mad. PKD has an experience where he deliberately tries to get the different hemispheres of his brain in contact by taking a concoction of vitamins he found is given to schizophrenics. He hallucinates amazing visuals and then through a series of events he thinks he is being given a revelation, possessed first by his friend, then by different people of the past, and currently settled on Erasmus. He is fully aware ...more
R.K. Araddion
Sep 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
So what is an exegesis?

Well, Google defines 'exegesis' as "critical explanation or interpretation of a text, especially of scripture." I'll accept this definition, since my only alternative to Google seems to be Bing, and I'll be damned if I let Microsoft fuck me up again.

So what is a Philip K Dick?

This is a considerably more complex question. Philip K Dick was a writer whose work was often classified as science fiction during his lifetime. He wrote several gr
Michael Adams
Jun 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Philip K Dick’s search for the fundamental truth behind a life-changing spiritual event that occurred in his life in February 1974. He explores, or exegetes, this event through the lenses of Christianity, Gnosticism, Brahmanism, Sufism, Taoism, quantum mechanics, recursive time travel, and a plethora of other philosophical, theosophical, and science-fictional ideals before concluding that maybe it is the search for meaning that is the real meaning of it all. Along the way we see the modern day b ...more
Dec 21, 2016 rated it liked it
[This is a difficult book to review, so instead I'll share my reading progress with quotes and various thoughts that popped into my spinning head:]

Here are two quotes taken from the hardback cover:

"A great and calamitous sequence of arguments with the universe: poignant, terrifying, ludicrous, and brilliant. The Exegesis is the sort of book associated with legends and madmen, but Dick wasn't a legend and he wasn't mad. He lived among us, and was a genius." - Jonathan Lethem
Garrett Cook
Jan 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A great mind turning on itself and turning itself on. A man waiting for the beast in the jungle. This is not a journal or a notebook of ranting this is a novel of ecstatic experience barred from reaching its true potential as a great novel solely by the fact that it is factual and therefore not a novel. But your protagonist is compelling, his insights and running monkeys fascinating and his emotional life intensely sad and beautiful. Is he seeing God, is he seeing the end? You don't quite know. ...more
A.E. Reiff
Nov 26, 2012 rated it liked it
To have to say Christian Apocalypse, as if there were any other, shows how far adrift the times, for apparently it is not common knowledge that Ezekiel and Daniel, Isaiah and David are its foundation. If you are under 50 say, or have never felt it possible to believe that any of this is so, you should know that unlike the Buddhist world, which has many pleasing insights, the Apocalypse posits a war from the beginning of time. Shall we say time begins when we know it? In this countdown of the war ...more
John Aaron
Jun 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
One of the Great Works of World Mysticism

Many of us who have read PKD's visionary novels had been eagerly awaiting the release of this edited version of his magnum opus, The Exegesis.

We weren't disappointed.

The Exegesis is like no other work in the world's mystical literature of which I'm aware. A relentless, probing, moving - and often hilarious - attempt to clarify PKD's profound mystical experiences in February and March of 1974, he created an incredible, encyclopedic discussion of the exi
Edward Tully
Feb 15, 2012 rated it it was ok
For hardcore Philip K. Dick fans only - Phil tries in various ways to explain his strange "74/3" experience, but fails to convince himself or the reader no matter how outlandish each succcessive theory is. In the end, it's a dispiriting read as ideas are picked up, examined in great detail and then discarded for another unlikely explanation. This is real 1970s California philosophy at its worst.
Octavian Florescu
Jun 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Book of the Apostles in the Gnostic form.
Jun 17, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: people
ludicrous babbling!!

Amazon review:

“A great and calamitous sequence of arguments with the universe: poignant, terrifying, ludicrous, and brilliant. The Exegesis is the sort of book associated with legends and madmen, but Dick wasn’t a legend and he wasn’t mad. He lived among us, and was a genius.”—Jonathan Lethem

Based on thousands of pages of typed and handwritten notes, journal entries, letters, and story sketches, The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick is the magnifi
Dec 14, 2011 marked it as to-read
I"m an enormous Phillip K. Dick fan. This compendium of Dick's philosophical/metaphysical investigations following a visionary experience in the 70's has been edited, impossibly, by novelist Jonathan Lethem, editor Pamela Jackson, plus a number of other of the Dick inner circles, including two or more of his many children (5 marriages.)

Heard it discussed last night on a podcast from the LA Library Aloud Series, a fascinating panel moderated by LA Times book reviewer David Ulin, between Lethem,
Karl Kindt
Jul 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
Here my 35 year journey ends. I today have finished reading every published work by PKD. I read "The Unreconstructed M" in OMNI magazine in 1981 when I was a sophomore in high school, which led to THE COSMIC PUPPETS, which led to THE UNTELEPORTED MAN, which led to the rest. Today I've read his final words.

This book is PKD's analysis of his own fiction. I suggest you read it after reading everything else he wrote. It made me want to re-read UBIK and DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP
Kilburn Adam
Oct 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Such a fascinating book, and I think the editors did a really good job. I wonder if PKD didn't die when he did, how long he would have continued to write The Exegesis. And I also wonder what The Owl in Daylight would be like, if he had of completed it.
Mihai Persinaru
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Jun 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
smart versus crazy

i forget which is which
Made it a little more than halfway. That's enough of that for now.
Pat Rolston
Mar 18, 2014 rated it liked it
I was conflicted by the book as I really wanted to find the magic so many readers articulated in their reviews. I have read a number of biographies and most of Phil's works, so I felt it was time to take the Exegesis and give it a go. I highly recommend the same for anyone who feels strongly about his work as being categorically in a league of it's own. The preparation became a benchmark to take on the Exegesis and ironically led to the lesser number of stars . While the book provides a unique w ...more
Mike Kleine
Oct 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read this some years ago. Well, I read parts of it. It's long. I remember dedicating all of my "reading time" to this book. And I did this for about 2 months. Everything I read here made me think. And it made me think in the way thinking sometimes leads to amazingly creative thoughts. I wrote notes and came up with ideas for stories. These have been the best ideas for stories I have ever had. I still have those notes from all those years ago. I have not even scratched the surface of my ideas. ...more
I cannot imagine the labor of love this book must have been for the editors. They had to go through some 9,000 pages of Philip K. Dick's 7 years of writing as he essentially attempts to make sense of his own writing, reality, and salvation. In 1974 he experiences a kind of visionary experience whereby he is inexorably changed--he believes he's seen the true fabric of the universe (possibly experienced divinity directly) and he attempts through his writing to explain, interpret, and extend the ex ...more
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Philip K. Dick was born in Chicago in 1928 and lived most of his life in California. In 1952, he began writing professionally and proceeded to write numerous novels and short-story collections. He won the Hugo Award for the best novel in 1962 for The Man in the High Castle and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best novel of the year in 1974 for Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said. Philip K. Dick died on ...more
“We are all sleeping avatars of God, with amnesia.” 10 likes
“Also, I do seem attracted to trash, as if the clue--the clue--lies there. I'm always ferreting out elliptical points, odd angles. What I write doesn't make a whole lot of sense. There is fun and religion and psychotic horror strewn about like a bunch of hats. Also, there is a social or sociological drift--rather than toward the hard sciences, the overall impression is childish but interesting.” 7 likes
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