Half-Way Through “Valis”

I am, as the title suggests, half-way through Philip K. Dick’s Valis, and it is quite a – excuse my language, but I can’t think of a more appropriate term – headfuck! It is science fiction… ostensibly… It is also (apparently) semi-autobiographical, the main character, Horselover Fat, being (so it is said) a version of the author: “Philip” apparently means “lover of horses” and “Dick” is the German (is that right?) – or very close to it – for “fat” (but what about the “K”? Oddly, prior to Valis, I read Haruki Murakami’s Sputnik Sweetheart, in which the narrator is referred to simply as “K” – coincidence? Well…). Anyway… so…

What is Valis about? Hard to say. I mean, even if I knew (will I know by the end of the book?), I reckon it would still be hard to say. In that explaining what it is “about” would be… hard. So 120 pages in (as I write these words), let me just tell you what has “happened” so far…

Horselover Fat (and/or Philip K. Dick) is a “reformed” junkie. He believes, several years ago, he had a pink laser beamed fired at him, from “God” (or something like it), which filled his mind with enormous quantities of “knowledge.” This “knowledge,” on account of its source, he believes to be holy knowledge, which he attempts to elucidate in the form of a written exegesis (a holy journal or explanation of Divine Truths). At page 120 of Valis, Fat’s exegesis has thus far reached 300,000 words (or perhaps 200,000 – I can’t presently recall). So it is quite an extensive project of Fat’s – he deems it extremely important to record the knowledge he has been imbued with. During the course of the recording of this exegesis, Fat has so far experienced the suicide of his paranoid “friend,” Gloria; divorce – believing that his then-wife (who took away his son) engineered his subsequent suicide attempt; said attempt resulting in him spending a period of time in a psychiatric ward, during and after which he underwent therapy – with mixed results; the latter manifestation of which (taking the form of a rather harsh and shouty therapist called Maurice) including strongly advising Fat not to allow Sherri, a devout but highly cynical Christian who is dying of cancer, to move in with him, on account of the fact that (according to Maurice) Fat does not in fact love Sherri, but actually detests her, and he only wants her to live with him so that when she dies (and, says Maurice, she will die), Fat will have an excuse to also end his life… amongst and between all of the above, Fat (who could, by some, be said to be insane) has various conversations with his friends/ associates/ acquaintances (of varying degrees of (alleged) sanity) about morality, the structure of the universe and God and things… and amongst and between all of the above, we have explained to us, through Fat, Fat’s exegesis, the narrator/ Dick/ another aspect of Fat (or whatever), Fat’s (or the narrator’s or Dick’s or whatever) views on “God,” the structure of the universe and the substance of what was beamed to Fat (or…etc) in a pink laser, which consists largely of various aspects of Gnosticism, prior knowledge of his son’s hernia, aliens/divine entities, and other things and stuff and so on.



I am, oddly enough, enjoying it!

Maybe, in another 120 pages, it will make sense…

Or maybe it will just turn out to be what it seems to be so far – i.e. one big, crazy, fun, messed-up headfuck of a journey through a chaotic, deranged (or highly intelligent and incisive) mind! 🙂


2 comments on “Half-Way Through “Valis”

  1. […] #2: Valis… Cosmogony… Invoice I have virtually finished Valis (see my previous entry, Half-Way Through Valis). Right at the end, before the Afterword by Kim Stanley Robinson, is the Tractates: Cryptica […]

  2. […] Half-Way Through Valis & Synchronous Chain #2: Valis… Cosmogony… Invoice […]

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