The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick

The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick

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by Philip K. Dick, Pamela Jackson, Jonathan Lethem

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“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


“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 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 introduced by Pamela Jackson and Jonathan Lethem, this is the definitive presentation of Dick’s brilliant, and epic, work.

In the Exegesis, Dick documents his eight-year attempt to fathom what he called “2-3-74,” a postmodern visionary experience of the entire universe “transformed into information.” In entries that sometimes ran to hundreds of pages, in a freewheeling voice that ranges through personal confession, esoteric scholarship, dream accounts, and fictional fugues, Dick tried to write his way into the heart of a cosmic mystery that tested his powers of imagination and invention to the limit.

This volume, the culmination of many years of transcription and archival research, has been annotated by the editors and by a unique group of writers and scholars chosen to offer a range of views into one of the most improbable and mind-altering manuscripts ever brought to light.

Editorial Reviews

"One day the contents of my mind moved faster and faster until they ceased being concepts and became precepts. I did not have concepts about the world but perceived it without preconception or even intellectual comprehension. It then resembled the world of UBIK. As if all the contents of one's mind, if fused, became suddenly alive, a living entity, which took off within one's head, on its own, saw in its own superior way, without regard to what you had ever learned or seen or known." Philip K. Dick is known as the author of sci-fi classics including Blade Runner, Total Recall, and Minority Report, but only his zealot fans know that he spent the last eight years of his life developing an intricate universal system. This 1056-page opus presents that work.

Library Journal
Much-revered sf author Dick turned metaphysical as he grew older, spending the last eight years of his life trying to understand what he called "2-3-74"—an experience of the universe transformed into information. He devoted thousands of pages of notes, journal entries, and sketches to this effort, packing some of his thoughts into his final "VALIS" trilogy. Pamela Jackson, who devoted her dissertation to "2-3-74," and novelist Jonathan Lethem have edited Dick's vast material to create this final Exegesis. A blockbuster for all fans of speculative literature.
Kirkus Reviews
A dyspeptic dystopian's mad secret notebooks, imposing order--at least of a kind--on a chaotic world. "The majority of these writings…are neither familiar nor wholly lucid nor, largely, elegant," write editors Lethem and Jackson. That's exactly right. But it is a measure of the esteem in which the late science-fiction novelist Philip K. Dick is held in the literary world that Lethem and Jackson could be brought into this vast disorder--a project, in its own way, rather like the frankensteining of David Foster Wallace's Pale King, and with many of the same conditions present: a vastness of notes, a hint of a complete system (in this case, partially imposed by a previous editor) and the impossibility of that completeness without much posthumous help. And that complete system is surpassing strange. Dick writes of a critical moment in 1974, "at the initial height of the ‘Holy Other' pouring into me, when I saw the universe as it is, I saw as the active agent, a gold and red illuminated-letter like plasmatic entity from the future, arranging bits and pieces here: arranging what time drove forward." Very well, then. That entity--perhaps, the editors whisper, a manifestation of epilepsy, though perhaps not--seems to have confirmed Dick's suspicion, which lies at the heart of so much of his work, that the world we inhabit is an elaborate ruse and that any freedom we have is illusory: "We are being fed a spurious reality"; "one cannot sense that reality is somehow insubstantial unless somehow, unconsciously, one is comparing or contrasting that reality with a kind of hyper-reality; otherwise the intuition makes no sense." A blend of diary, notebook, ledger, blotter and back-of-envelope scribbles, Dick's "exegesis" of that reality ranges from sublime philosophizing ("Our sin is self-centered monocamerality") to chronicling (among other things, Richard Nixon's last days in office) to strange ranting. In short, it's in perfect keeping with his body of work at large. Fascinating and unsettling. Still, at more than 900 pages, this will test the mettle--and the stamina--of even the most devoted of Dick fans.

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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6.50(w) x 9.20(h) x 2.00(d)


Meet the Author

Over a writing career that spanned three decades, PHILIP K. DICK(1928–1982) published 36 science fiction novels and 121 short stories in which he explored the essence of what makes man human and the dangers of centralized power. Toward the end of his life, his work turned toward deeply personal, metaphysical questions concerning the nature of God. Eleven novels and short stories have been adapted to film, notably Blade Runner (based on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), Total Recall,Minority Report, and A Scanner Darkly. The recipient of critical acclaim and numerous awards throughout his career, Dick was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2005, and in 2007 the Library of America published a selection of his novels in three volumes. His work has been translated into more than twenty-five languages.

JONATHAN LETHEM is the author of nine novels, including Motherless Brooklyn, The Fortress of Solitude, and Gun, with Occasional Music. Dissident Gardens is his most recent novel.

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The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
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I purchased a NOOK TABLET to save space in my apartment, since I already have hundreds of books. But I think it is rather disgusting that the NOOK book is MORE expensive than the HARDCOVER book!! I want this book, but I have no room for it! And I refuse to pay more for something that requires no paper, no ink, no labor, and no printing. Crazy unfortunate.