Philip K. Dick, 1975
Within the universe there exist fierce cold things, which I have given the name "machines" to. Their behavior frightens me, especially if it imitates human behavior so well that I get the uncomfortable sense that these things are trying to pass themselves off as humans but are not. I call them "androids," which is my own way of using that word. By "android" I do not mean a sincere attempt to create in the laboratory a human being (as we saw in the excellent TV film The Questor Tapes). I mean a thing somehow generated to deceive us in a cruel way, to cause us to think it to be one of ourselves. Made in a laboratory -- that aspect is not meaningful to me; the entire universe is one vast laboratory, and out of it come sly and cruel entities which smile as they reach out to shake hands. But their handshake is the grip of death, and their smile has the coldness of the grave.
These creatures are among us, although morphologically they do not differ from us; we must not posit a difference of essence, but a difference of behavior. In my science fiction I write about about them constantly. Sometimes they themselves do not know they are androids. Like Rachel Rosen, they can be pretty but somehow lack something; or, like Pris in WE CAN BUILD YOU, they can be absolutely born of a human womb and even desing androids -- the Abraham Lincoln one in that book -- and themselves be without warmth; they then fall within the clinical entity "schizoid," which means lacking proper feeling. I am sure we mean the same thing here, with the emphasis on the word "thing." A human being without the proper empathy or feeling is the same as an android built so as to lack it, either by design or mistake. We mean, basically, someone who does not care about the fate which his fellow living creatures fall victim to; he stands detached, a spectator, acting out by his indifference John Donne's theorem that "No man is an island," but giving that theorem a twist: that which is a mental and a moral island is not a man.
The greates change growing across our world these days is probably the momentum of the living toward reification, and at the same time a reciprocal entry into animation by the mechanical. We hold now no pure categories of the living versus the non-living; this is going to be our paradigm; my character Hoppy, in DOCTOR BLOODMONEY, who is a sort of human football within a maze of servo-assists. Part of that entity is organic, but all of it is alive; part came from a womb, all lives, and within the same universe. I am talking about our real world and not the world of fiction, when I say: one day we will have millions of hybrid entities which have a foot in both world at once. To define them as "man" versus "machine" will give us verbal puzzle-games to play with. What is and will be a real concern is: does the composite entity (of which Palmer Eldritch is a good example, among my characters), does he behave in a human way? Many of my stories contain purely mechanical systems which display kindness -- taxicabs, for instance, or the little rolling carts at the end of NOW WAIT FOR LAST YEAR which that poor defective human builds. "Man" or "human being" are terms which we must understand correctly and apply, but they apply not to origin or to any ontology but to a way of being in the world; if a mechanical construct halts in its customary operation to lend you assistance, then you will posit to it, gratefully, a humanity which no analysis of its transistors and relay-systems can elucidate. A scientist, tracing the wiring circuits of that machine to locate its humanness, would be like our own earnest scientists who tried in vain to locate the soul in man, and, not being able to find a specific organ located at a specific spot, opted to decline to admit that we have souls. As soul is to man, man is to machine: it is the added dimension, in terms of functional hierarchy. As one of us acts godlike (gives his cloak to a stranger), a machine acts human when it pauses in its programmed cycle to defer to it by reason of a decision.
But still, we must realize that the universe although kind to us in its entirety (it must like and accept us, or we would not be here; as Abraham Maslow says, "otherwise nature would have executed us long ago") does contain grinning evil masks which loom out of the fog of confusion at us, and it may slay us for its own gain.
We must be careful, however, of confusing a mask, any mask, with the reality beneath. Think of the war-mask which Pericles placed over his features: you would behold a frozen visage, the grimness of war, without compassion -- no genuine human face or person to whom you could appeal. And this was of course the intention. Suppose you did not even realize it was a mask; suppose you believed, as Pericles approached you in the fog and half-darkness of early morning, that this was his authentic countenance. Now, this is almost exactly how I described Palmer Eldritch in my novel about him: so much like the war-masks of the Attic Greeks that the resemblance cannot be accidental. Is, then, the hollow eyeslot, the mechanical metal arm and hand, the stainless steel teeth, which are the dread stigmata of evil -- is this not, this which I myself first saw in the overhead sky at noon one day back in 1963, a description, a vision, of a war-mask and metal armor, a god of battle? The God of Wrath who was angry with me. But under the anger, under the metal and helmet, there is, as with Pericles, the face of a man. A kind and loving man.
My theme for years in my writing has been, "The devil has a metal face." Perhaps this should be amended now. What I glimpsed and then wrote about was in fact not a face; it was a mask over a face. And the true face is the reverse of the mask. Of course it would be. You do not place fierce cold metal over fierce cold metal. You place it over soft flesh, as the harmless moth adorns itself artfully to terrorize others with ocelli. This is a defensive measure, and if it works, the predator returns to his lair grumbling, "I saw the most frightening creature in the sky -- wild grimaces and flappings, stingers and poisons." His kin are impressed. The magic works.
I had supposed that only bad people wore frightening masks, but you can see now that I fell for the magic of the mask, its dreadful frightening magic, its illusion. I brought the deception and fled. I wish know to apologize for preaching that deception to you as something genuine: I've had you all sitting around the campfire with our eyes wide with alarm as I tell tales of the hideous monsters I encountered; my voyage of discovery ended in terrifying visions which I dutifully carried home with me as I fled back to safety. Safety from what? From something which, when the need was gone for concealment, smiled and revealed its harmlessness.
Now I do not intend to abandon my dichotomy between what I call "human" and what I call "android," the latter being a cruel and cheap mockery of the former for base ends. But I had been going on surface appearances; to distinguish the categories more cunning is required. For if a gentle, harmless life conceals itself behind a frightening war-mask, then it is likely that behind gentle and loving masks there can conceal itself a vicious slayer of men's souls. In neither case can we go on surface appearance; we must penetrate to the heart of each, to the heart of the subject.
Probably everything in the universe serves a good end -- I mean, serves the universe's goals. But intrinsic portions or subsystems can be takers of life. We must deal with them as such, without reference to their role in the total structure.
The Sepher Yezirah, a Cabbalist text, "The Book of Creation," which is almost 2,000 years old, tells us: "God has also set the one over agaist the other; the good against the evil, and the evil against the good; the good proceeds from the good, and the evil from the evil; the good purifies the bad, and the bad the good; the good is preserved for the good, and the evil for the bad ones."
Underlying the two game-players there is God, who is neither and both. The effect of the game is that both players become purified. Thus, the ancient Hebrew monotheism, so superior to our own view. We are creatures in a game with our affinities and aversions predetermined for us -- not by blind chance but by patient, foresighted engramming systems which we dimly see. Were we to see them clearly, we would abolish the game. Evidently that would not serve anyone's interests. We must trust these tropisms, and anyhow we have no choice -- not until the tropisms lift. And under certain circumstances they can and do. And at that point, much is clear which previously was occluded from us, intentionally.
What we must realize is that this deception, this obscuring of things as if under a veil -- the veil of Maya, as it has been called -- this is not an end in itself, as if the universe is somehow perverse and likes to foil us per se; what we must accept, once we realize that a veil (called by the Greeks dokos) lies between us and reality, is that this veil serves a benign purpose. Parmenides, the pre-Socratic philosopher, is historically credited with being the first person in the West systematically to work out proof that the world cannot be as we see it, that dokos, the veil, exists. We see very much the same notion expressed by St. Paul when he speaks about our seeing "as if by the reflection on the bottom of a polished metal pan." He is referring to the familiar notion of Plato's, that we see only images of reality, and probably these images are inaccurate and imperfect and not to be relied on. I wish to add that Paul was probably saying one thing more than Plato in the celebrated metaphor of the cave: Paul was saying that we may well be seeing the universe backwards.
The extraordinary thrust of this thought just simply cannot be taken in, even if we intellectually grasp it. "To see the universe backwards?" What would that mean? Well, let me give you one possibility: that we experience time backwards; or more precisely, that our inner subjective category of experience of time (in the sense which Kant spoke of, a way by which we arrange experience), our time experience is orthogonal to the flow of time itself -- at right angles. There are two times: the time which is our experience or perception or construct of ontological matrix, an extensiveness into another area -- this is real, but the outer time-flow of the universe moves in a different direction. Both are real, but by experiencing time as we do, orthogonally to its actual direction, we get a totally wrong idea of the sequence of events, of causality, of what is past and what is future, where the universe is going.
I hope you realize the importance of this. Time is real, both as an experience in the Kantian sense, and real in the sense which the Soviet Dr. Nikolai Kozyrev expresses it: that time is an energy, and it is the basic energy which binds the universe together, and upon which all life depends, all phenomena draw their source out of and express: it is the energy of each entelechy and of the total entelechy of the universe itself.
But time, in itself, is not moving from our past to our future. Its orthogonal axis leads it through a rotary cycle within which, for example, we have been "spinning our wheels," so to speak, in a vast winter of our species that has lasted already about 2,000 of our lineal time years. Evidently orthogonal time or true time rotate something like the primitive cyclic time, within which each year was regarded as the same year, each new crop the same crop; in fact, each spring was the same spring again. What destroyed man's ability to perceive time in this ovarly simple way was that he himself as an individual spanned too many of these years and could see that he himself wore out, was not renewed each year like the corn crop, the bulbs and roots and trees. There had to be a more adequate idea of time than the simple cyclic time; so he developed, reluctantly, lineal time which is an accumulative time, as Bergson showed; it goes in only one direction and is added to -- or adds to -- everything as it sweeps along.
True orthogonal time is rotary, but on a vaster scale, much like the Great Year of the ancients; much, too, like Dante's idea of the time rate of eternity which you find expressed in his Comedy. During the Middle Ages such thinkers as Erigena had begun to sense true eternity or timelessness, but others had begun to sense that eternity involved time (timelessness would be a static state), although the time would be quite different from our perception of it. A clue lay in St. Paul's reiteration that the Final Days of the world would be the Time of Restoration of All Things. He had evidently experienced this orthogonal time enough to understand that it contains in it as a simultaneous plane or extension everything which was, just as the grooves on an LP contain the part of the music which has already been played; they don't disappear after the stylus tracks them. A phonograph record is, actually, a long helical spiral, and can be represented entirely in a plane geometry sort of way: in space, although I suppose you can talk about the stylus accumulating the music as it goes along. The idea of dysfunctions such as bounce back and bounce forward are possible, here, but these wuld serve no teleological purpose; they would be time-slips, as in my novel MARTIAN TIME-SLIP. Yet, if they were to occur, they would serve a purpose for us, the observe or listener; we would suddenly learn a great deal more about our universe. I believe these ontological dysfunctions in time do occur, but that our brains automatically generate false memory-systems to obscure them, at once. The reason for this carries back to my premise: the veil or dokos is there to deceive us for a good reason, and such disclosures as these time dysfunctions make are to be obliterated that this benign purpose be maintained.
Within a system which must generate an enormous amount of veiling, it would be vain-glorious to expostulate on what actuality is, when my primese declares that were we to penetrate to it for any reason this strange veil-like dream would reinstate itself retroactively, in terms of our perceptions and in terms of our memories. The mutual dreaming would resume as before, because, I think, we are like the characters in my novel UBIK; we are in a state of half-life. We are neither dead nor alive, but preserved in cold storage, waiting to be thawed out. Expressed in the perhaps startingly familiar terms of the procession of the seasons, this is winter of which I speak; it is winter for our race, and it is winter in UBIK for those in half-life. Ice and snow cover them; ice and snow cover our world in layers of accretions, which we call dokos or Maya. What melts away the rind or layer of frozen ice over the world each year is of course the reappearance of the sun. What melts the ice and snow covering the characters in UBIK, and which halts the cooling-off of their lives, the entropy which they feel, is the voice of Mr. Runciter, their former employer, calling to them. The voice of Mr. Runciter is none other than the same voice which each bulb and seed and root in the ground, our ground, in our winter-time, hears. It hears: "Wake up! Sleepers awake!" Now I have told you who Runciter is, and I have told you our condition and what UBIK is really about. What I have said, too, is that time is actually as Dr. Kozyrev in the Soviet Union supposes it to be, and in UBIK time has been nullified and no longer moves forward in the lineal fashion which we experience. As this has happened, due to the deaths of the characters, we the readers and they the personŠ see the world as it is without the veil of Maya, without the obscuring mists of lineal time. It is that very energy, Time, postulated by Dr. Kozyrev as binding together all phenomena and maintaining all life, which by its activity hides the ontological reality beneath its flow.
The orthogonal time axis may have been represented in my novel UBIK without my understanding what I was depicting; i.e. the formregression of objects along an entirely different line from that out of which they, in lineal time, were built. This reversion is that of the Platonic Ideas or archetypes; a rocket-ship reverts to a Boeing 747, then back to a World War I "Jenny" biplane. While I may indeed have expressed a dramatic view of orthogonal time, it is less certain that this is orthogonal time undergoing an unnatural reversion; i.e. moving backwards. What the characters in UBIK see may be orthogonal time moving along its normal axis; if we ourselves somehow see the universe reversed the the "reversions" of form which objects in UBIK undergo may be momentum towards perfection. This would imply that our world as extensive in time (rather than extensive in space) is like an onion, an almost infinite number of successive layers. If lineal time seems to add layers, then perhaps orthogonal time peels these off, exposing layers of progressively greater Being. One is reminded here of Plotinus's view of the universe as consisting of concentric rings of emanation, each one possessing more Being -- or reality -- than the next.
Within that ontology, that realm of Being, the characters, like ourselves, slumber in dreams as they wait for the voice which will awaken them. When I say that they and we are waiting for spring to come I am not merely using a metaphor. Spring means thermal return, the abolition of the process of entropy; their life can be expressed in terms of thermal units, and those units have left. It is spring which restores life -- restores it fully and n some cases, as with our species, the new life is a metamorphosis; the period of slumbering is a period of gestation together with our fellows which will culminate in an entirely different form of life than we have ever known before. Many species are this way; they go through cycles. Thus, our winter sleep is not a mere "spinning of our wheels" as it might seem. We will not simply bloom again and again with the same blossoms we produced each year before. This is why it was an error for the ancients to believe that for us, as for the vegetable world, the same year returned; for us, there is accumulation, the growth of an entelechy for each of us not yet perfected or completed, and never repeatable. Like a symphony of Beethoven, each of us is unique, and, when this long winter is over, we as new blooms will surprise ourselves and the world around us. What we will do, many of us, is throw off the mere masks which we have worn -- masks which were intended to be taken for reality. Masks which have successfully fooled everyone, as is their purpose. We have been so many Palmer Eldritches moving through the cold fog and mists and twilight of winter, but now soon we will emerge and lift the war-mask of iron to reveal the face within.
It is a face which we, the wearers of the masks, have not seen either; it will surprise us, too.
For absolute reality to reveal itself, our categories of space-time experiences, our basic matrix through which we encounter the universe, must break down and then utterly collapse. I dealt with this breakdown in MARTIAN TIME-SLIP in terms of time; in MAZE OF DEATH there are endless parallel realities arranged spatially; in FLOW MY TEARS, THE POLICEMAN SAID the world of one character invades the world in general and shows that by "world" we mean nothing more or less than Mind -- the immanent Mind which thinks -- or rather dreams -- our world. That dreamer, like the dreamer in Joyce's Finnegan's Wake, is stirring and about to come to consciousness. We are within that dream; these manifold dreams are about to fold into themselves, to disappear as dreams, to be replaces by the true landscape of the dreamer's reality. We will join him as he sees it once again and is aware that he has been dreaming. In Brahmanism, we would say that a great cycle has ended and that Brahman stirs and wakes again, or that it falls asleep from being awake; in any case the universe which we experience which is an extension in space and time of its Mind is experiencing the typical dysfunctions that take place at the end of a cycle. You may say if you prefer, "Reality is collapsing; it's all turning to chaos," or, with me, you may wish to say, "I feel the dream, the dokos, lifting; I feel Maya dissolving: I am waking up, He is waking up: I am the Dreamer: we are all the Dreamer." One thinks here of Arthur Clarke's Overmind.
Each of us is going to have to either affirm or deny the reality which is revealed when our ontological categories collapse. If you feel that chaos is closing in, that when the dream fades out, nothing will be left or, worse, something dreadful will confront you -- well, this is why the concept of the Day of Wrath persists; many people have a deep intuition that when the dokos abruptly melts they're in for a hard time of it. Perhaps so. But I think that the visage revealed will be a smiling one, since spring usually beams down on creatures rather than blasting them with desiccating heat. There may, too, be malign forces in the universe which will be revealed by the removal of the veil, but I think about the fall of the political tyranny in the US in 1974 and it seems to me that the exposure to the light of day of that ugly cancer and its subsequent removal is the nature of high value in disclosure to sunlight; we may have to suffer such shocks as learning that during the Nacht und Nebel, during the time of night and fog, our freedom, our rights, our property and even our lives were mutilated, deformed, stolen and destroyed by base creatures gluttin themselves in spurious sanctuary down there at San Clemente and in Florida and all the other villas, but the shock of exposure was worse for their plans than it was for ours. Our plans called only for us to live with justice and truth and freedom; the former government of this country had arranged to live with cruel power of the most arrogant sort, while at the same time lying to us ceaselessly through all the channels of communication. Such is a good example of the healing power of sunlight; this power first to reveal and then to shrivel up the coarse plant of tyranny which had grown deep into the beating heart of a good people.
That heart beats on now, more strongly than ever, although it was admittedly badly engulfed; but the cancer which had crawled through it -- that cancer is gone. That black growth which shunned light, shunned truth, and destroyed anyone who told the truth -- it shows what can flourish during the long winter of the human race. But that winter began to end in the vernal equinox of 1974.
Sometimes I think that the Dreamer began to press against the tyranny as he, the Dreamer, woke us; here in the United States he woke us to our condition, our awful peril.
One of the best novels, and most important to understanding of the nature of our world, is Ursula Le Guin's The Lathe of Heaven, in which the dream universe is articulated in such a striking and compelling way that I hesitate to add any further explanation to it; it requires none. I do not think that either of us had read about Charles Tart's study of dreams when we wrote our several novels, but I have now, and I have read some of Robert E. Ornstein, he being the "brain revolution" person north of where I live, at Stanford University. From Ornstein's work it would appear that there is a possibility that we have two entirely separate brains, rather than one brain divided into two bilaterally equal hemispheres, that, in fact, whereas we have one body we have two minds (I refer to you the article by Joseph E. Bogen, "The Other Side of the Brain: An Appositional Mind," published in Ornstein's collection The Nature Of Human Consciousness). Bogen demonstrates that every now and then a researcher began to scent the possibility that we have two brains, two minds, but that only with modern brain-mapping techniques and related studies has it been possible to demonstrate this. For example, in 1763 Jerome Gaub wrote: "... I hope that you will believe Pythagoras and Plato, the wisest of the ancient philosophers, who, according to Cicero, divided the mind into two parts, one partaking of reason and the other devoid of it." Bogen's article contains concepts so fascinating as to cause me to wonder why we never realized that our so-called "unconscious" is not an unconscious at all but another consciousness, with which we have a tenous relationship. It is this other mind or consciousness which dreams us at night -- we are its audience as it binds us in its story telling; we are little children spellbound... which is why Lathe of Heaven may represent one of the basic great books of our civilization, especially since Ursula Le Guin, I'm sure, arrived at her formulation without knowledge of Ornstein's work and Bogen's extraordinary theory. What is involved here is that one brain receives exactly the same input as the other, through the various sense channels, but processes the information differently; each brain works in its own unique way (the left is like a digital computer; the right much like an analog computer, working by comparing patterns). Processing the identical information each may arrive at a totally different result -- whereupon, since our personality is constructed in our left brain, if the right brain finds something vital which we to its left remain unware of, it must communicate during sleep, during the dream; hence, the Dreamer who communicates to us so urgently in the night is located neurologically, evidently, in our right brain, which is the not-I. But more than that (for instance, is the right brain as Bergson though perhaps a transducer of transformer for ultra-sensory informational input beyond the purview of the left?) we can't say as yet. I think, though, that the spell of dokos is woven by our right brain's plural; we as a species are prone to reside entirely within one hemisphere only, leaving the other to do what it must to protect us, and to protect the world. Keep in mind that this protectiveness is bilateral, an exchange between the world and each of us: each of us is a treasure, to be cherished and preserved, but so is the world and the hidden seeds in it, slumbering. The other hidden seeds. Thus, through the veil-spinning of Kali, the right hemisphere of each of us, we are kept ignorant of what we must be ignorant of now. But that time is ending; that winter is melting, along with its terrors, its tyrannies and snow.
The best description of this dokos-veil formation that I've read yet appears in an article in Science-Fiction Studies, March 1975, by Fredric Jameson, in "After Armageddon: Character Systems in DR. BLOODMONEY," which is an obscure novel of mine. I quote "... Every reader of Dick is familiar with this nightmarish uncertainty, this reality fluctuation, sometime accounted for by drugs*, sometimes by schizophrenia*, and sometimes by new SF powers, in which the psychic world as it were goes outside, and reappers in the form of simulacra or of some photographically cunning reproduction of the external." (p. 32) (*I hope Jameson means drugs in the writing and schizophrenia in the writing, not in me, but I'll let that pass.)
You can see from Jameson's description that we are talking about something very like Maya here, but also something very like a hologram. I have the distinct feeling that Carl Jung was correct about our unconsciousness, taht they form a single entity or as he called it "collective unconscious." In that case, this collective brain entity, consisting of of literally billions of "stations," which transmit and receive, would form a vast network of communication and information, much like Teilhard's concept of the no÷sphere. This is the no÷sphere, as real as the ionosphere or the biosphere; it is a layer in our earth's atmosphere composed of holographic and informational projections in a unified and continually processed Gestalt the sources of which are our manifold right brains. This constitutes a vast Mind, immanent within us, of such power and wisdom as to seem, to us, equal to the Creator. This was Bergson's view of God anyhow.
It is interesting how deeply troubled the brilliant Greek philosophers were by activities of the gods; they could see the activities and (or so they thought) the gods themselves, but as Xenophanes put it: "Even if a man should chance to speak the most complete truth, yet he himself does not know it; all things are wrapped in appearances."
This notion came to the pre-Socratics by virtue of their seeing the many but knowing a priori that what they saw could not be real, since only the One existed.
"If God is all things, then appearances are certainly deceptive; and, though observation of the kosmos may yield generalizations and speculations about God's plans, true knowledge of them could only be had by a direct contact with God's mind." (I am quoting Edward Hussey in his marvelous book The Pre-Socratics, p. 35.) And he goes on to give two fragments of Heraclitus: "The nature of things is ni the habit of concealing itself." (Fragment 123) "Latent structure is master of obvious structure." (Fragment 54)
I wish to remind you that the ancient Greeks and Hebrews did not conceive of God or God's Mind as above the universe, but within it: immanent Mind or immanent God, with the visible universe the body of God, so that God was to universe as psyche is to soma. But they also conjectured that perhaps God was not the great psyche but no÷s, a different sort of mind; in which case, the universe was not his body but God Himself. The space-time universe houses but is not a part of God; what is God is the vast grid-field or energy field alone.
If you assume (and you'd be correct to do so) that our minds are energy fields of some kind anyhow, and that we are fundamentally interacting fields, rather than discrete particles, then there is no theoretical problem in grasping this interaction between the billions of brain-prints emanating and forming and reforming into the patterns of the no÷sphere. However, if you still hold to the nineteenth century view of yourself as a brittle organism, much like a machine, made up of parts -- well, you see, then how can you merge with the no÷sphere? You are a unique concrete thing. And thing-ness is what we must get away from, in regarding ourselves and in considering life. By more modern views we are overlapping fields, all of us, animals included, plants included. This is the ecosphere and we are all in it. But what we don't realize is that the billions of discrete and entirely ego-oriented left hemisphere brains have far less to say about the ultimate disposition of this world than does the collective no÷spheric Mind which comprises all our right brains, and in which each of us shares. It will decide, and I do not think it impossible that this vast plasmic no÷sphere, considering that it covers our entire planet in a veil or layer, may interact outwards into solar-energy fields and from there into cosmic fields. Each of us, then, partakes of the cosmos -- if he is willing to listen to his dreams. And it is his dreams which will transform him from a mere machine into an authentic human. He will no longer strut about and clank with majestic iron, no longer rule his little kingdom here; he will soar upwards, flying like a field of negative ions, like the entity Ubik in my novel of that name: being life and giving life, but never defining himself because no clear-cut name to him -- to us -- can be given.
As we move up the manifold -- i.e. progress forwards in lineal time, or somehow stand still and lineal time progresses forwards, whichever model is more correct -- we as many entelechies are continually signaled, given information, and most of all, disinhibited by firings from the universe around us; in this fashion harmony among all parts of the universe is maintained. There is no more grand scheme than this: to be aware that I, as a representative entelechy, must unfold only as these preset signals reach me, and that control as to the when -- the locus in time -- that each signal will come is entirely in the hands of the universe... this is a thrilling comprehension, and makes me aware of the unbreakable tie between me and my environment.
There is such order in the response between engrammed systems within each of us and the accumulating signals which fire these systems in sequence as to imply that the Agency which laid down the entelechy in the first place, engrammed and then blocked these systems, knew with absolute precision where along the time paths the signals would take place which would disinhibit; chance is not involved -- the happiest of accidents is the most astute planning of the universe.
Sometimes I wonder how we could have imagined that our species was exempt from the instincts which lower species obviously have. What is different about us, however, is that all ants, for instance, are disinhibited by the same signal, and the same behavior occurs; it is as if one ant again and again is involved, endlessly. But for us, each is a unique entelechy, and each receives unique sequences of signals -- to which each responds uniquely. Still, this is the language of the universe which the ant hears; we thrill with a common joy.
I myself have derived much of the material for my writing from dreams. In FLOW MY TEARS, for example, the powerful dream which comes to Felix Buckman near the end, the dream of the wise old man on horseback, that was an actual dream I had at the time of writing the novel. In MARTIAN TIME-SLIP I've written in so many dream experiences that I can't separate them, now, when I read the novel.
UBIK was primarily a dream, or series of dreams. In my opinion it contains strong themes of pre-Socratic philosophical views of the world, unfamiliar to me when I wrote it (to name just one, the views of Empedocles). It is possible that the no÷sphere contained thought patterns in the form of very weak energy until we developed radio transmission; whereupon the energy level of the no÷sphere went out of bounds and assumed a life of its own. It no longer served as a mere passive repository of human information (the "Seas of Knowledge" which ancient Sumer believed in) but, due to the incredible surge of charge from our electronic signals and the information-rich material therein, we have given it power to cross a vast threshold; we have, so to speak, resurrected what Philo and other ancients called the Logos. Information has, then, become alive, with a collective mind of its own independent of our brains, if this theory is correct. It does not merely now what we know and remember what once was known, but can construct solutions on its own: it is a titanic AI system. The difference would be between a tape recorder which could "remember" a Beethoven symphony which it "heard," and one which could create new ones, on and on; the library in the sky, having read all the books there are and ever were, is writing its own book, now, and at night we are being read to -- told the exciting tale comprising that Great Work-in-Progress.
I must mention Ian Watson's article in Science-Fiction Studies on Le Guin's Lathe of Heaven; in his excellent piece he refers to what may be the most significant -- startlingly so -- story SF has yet produced: Fredric Brown's story that appeared in Astounding, "The Waveries." You must read that story; if you do not you may die without understanding the universe coming into being around you. The Waveries were attracted to Earth by our radio waves; they returned in facsimile form, so like our transmissions (SOS and so forth, chronologically) that at first we couldn't fathom what was up. Regarding Lathe, Watson says: "... Conceivably George [Orr] dreamt a hostile invasion into a peaceful one; yet the dominant probability is that the aliens are, as they maintain, 'of the dream time,' that their whole culture revolves around the move of 'reality dreaming itself into being,' that they have been attracted to Earth like the Waveries of Fredric Brown's story, only by dream-waves rather than radio waves." (pp. 71-72)
This could be considered scary stuff, this theme in Le Guin's work and mine. What are dreams? Are there these dream-universe entities that have come here from another star (Aldebaran, in Ms. Le Guin's novel)? Are the UFOs that people see holograms projected by their unconscious minds, acting as transformers, acting, too, as transducers of these strange dream-universe creatures?
For the past year I've had many dreams which seemed -- I stress the word "seemed" -- to indicate that a telepathic communication was in progress somewhere within my head, but after talking with Henry Korman, an associate of Ornstein's, I would imagine that it is merely my right and left hemispheres conferring in a Martin BŘber I-and-Thou dialogue. But much of the dream material seemed beyond my personal ability to have created. At one point an attempt was made to get me to write down a complex engineering principle which was shown me in the form of a round motor with twin rotating wheels, opposed in direction, much as Yin and Yang in Taoism alternate as opposing pairs (and much like Empedocles saw love versus strife, the dialectic interaction of the world). But this was a true engineering device they had there in my dream; they showed me a pencil, and said "This principle was known in your time." And as I rushed to find a pencil they added: "Known, but buried in a basement and forgotten." There was an elaborate high torgue chain-thrown mechanism which moved cam-wise between the two rotors, but I never got the hang of it, when I woke up. What I did later on grasp, though, was this: further dreams made it clear that somehow our treatment of seawater by osmosis process would give us not only pure water but a source of energy as well. However, they had the wrong human when they began giving me that sort of material; I am not trained to understand it, I did purchase over a thousand dollars worth of reference books to try to figure out what I'd been shown, though. I have learned this: something to do with a high hysteresis factor, in this twin-rotor system, is converted from a defect to an advantage. No braking mechanism is needed; the two rotors spin constantly at the same velocity, and torque is transferred by a thrown cam-chain.
I give this illustration only to show that either my unconscious has been reading articles on engineering which elude my memory and my conscious attention and interest, or there are, shall I say, dream-universe people from, shall I say, Aldebaran or some other star with us. Perhaps joining their no÷sphere with ours? And offering assistance to a crippled, blighted planet which has bogged down, like a rat on a weary wheel, in the dead of winter for over 2,000 years? If they bring the springtime with them, then whoever they are, I welcome them; like Joe Chip in UBIK, I fear the cold, the weariness; I fear the death of wearing out on endless upwards stairs, while someone cruel, or anyhow wearing a cruel mask, watches and offers no aid -- the machine, lacking empathy, watching as mere spectator, the same horror which I know haunts Harlan Ellison. It is perhaps more frightening than the killer himself (in UBIK it was Jory), this figure which sees but gives no assistance, offers no hand. That is the android, to me, and the evil demigod to Harlan; we both shudder at the idea of its existence. What I can tell you about the dream-universe people, is that if they do exits, whoever they are, they are not that unsympathetic android; they are human in this deepest of all senses: they have reached out a helping hand to our planet, to our polluted ecosphere, and perhaps even assisted in throwing down the tyranny which gripped the United States, Portugal, Greece, and one day they will throw down the tyranny of the Sovieet bloc as well. This is what I think of when I grasp the idea of springtime: the lifting of the iron doors of the prison and the poor prisoners, in Beethoven's Fidelio, let out into the sunlight. Ah, that moment in the opera, when they see the sun and feel its warmth. And at last, at the end, the trumpet call of freedom sounds the permanent end of their cruel imprisonment; help from outside, has arrived.
Every now and then someone comes up to a science fiction writer, smiles a crazy secret in-the-know smile and smirks, "I know that what you're writing is true, and it's in code. All you SF writers are receivers for Them." Naturally I ask who "Them" is. The answer is always the same. "You know. Up there. The space people. They're already here, and they're using your writing. You know it, too."
I kind of smile and edge off. It keeps happening. Well, I hate to admit it, but it is possible that there is (one) such a thing as telepathy; and (two) that the CETI project's idea that we might communicate with extraterrestrial beings via telepathy is possibly a reasonable idea -- if telepathy exists and if ETIs exist. Otherwise we are trying to communicate with someone who doesn't exist with a system which doesn't work. At least that'll keep a lot of us busy for a long, long time. But understand now that a Soviet astronomy bunch, evidently headed by the same Dr. Nikolai Kozyrev who developed the time-as-energy theory I mentioned previously, has reported receiving signals from an ETI within our solar system. If this were true, and our people are saying that the Soviets are just monitoring stale, flat and unprofitable old signalas from our own discarded satellites and other junk ships -- well, suppose these ETI entities or corporate mind are within, say, the great plasma which seems to surrond Earth and is involved with solar flares and the like; I refer of course to the no÷sphere. It is ETI and TI at once, and possibly bears a strong resemblance to what Ms. Le Guin has written about in Lathe. And as every SF fan knows, my own works deal with similar themes... thus giving an annoying couple of marks for plausibility to these freaks who are forever lurching up to every SF author and saying, "What you're writing is in code..." etc. In truth, we may be influenced, especially during dream states, by a no÷sphere which is a product of our own, capable of independent mentation, and involved with ETIs, a mixture of all three and God knows what else. This might not be the Creator, but it would be as close to Infinite Mind as we might get, and close enough. That it is benign is obvious, to recall Maslow's remarks that if nature didn't like us it would have executed us long ago -- here read Infinite No÷sphere for nature.
We humans, the warm-faced and tender, with thoughtful eyes -- we are perhaps the true machines. And those objective constructs, the natural objects around us and especially the electronic hardware we build, the transmitters and microwave relay stations, the satellites, they may be cloaks for authentic living reality inasmuch as they may participate more fully and in a way obscured to us in the ultimate Mind. Perhaps we see not only a deforming veil, but backwards. Perhaps the closest approximation to truth would be to say: "Everything is equally alive, equally free, equally sentient, because everything is not alive or half-alive or dead, but rather lived through." Radio signals are boosted by a transmitter; they pass through the various components, modified and augmented, their contours changed, noise eliminated and rejected... we are entensions, like those metal arms which pick up radioactive objects for scientists. We are gloves which God puts on in order to move things here and there as He wishes. For some reason He prefers to handle reality this way. (I will not budge but will defend that pun.)
We are suits of clothing which He creates, puts on and uses and finally discards. We are suits of armor, too. Which gives a misleading impression to certain other butterflies within certain other suits of armor. Within the armor is the butterfly and within the butterfly is -- the signal from another star. In the novel I am writing (which the Dreamer, perhaps, is expressing through me) the star is called Albemuth. I hadn't read Ms. Le Guin's novel Lathe of Heaven when the idea came to me, but the reader of that novel will find there also what I just now meant by our being stations within a vast grid -- and not realizing it.
Consider this Meditation of Rumi, a Sufi saying by Idries Shah, who is a favorite among modern Sufis: "The worker is hidden in the workshop."
Since it is evident that more than anyone else Dr. Ornstein has pioneered the way to discover the new worldview, which involves a bilateral brain parity unsuspected since the time of Pythagoras and Plato, I recently summoned my courage and wrote him. Fans now and then write me, their hands shaking nervously; my entire typewriter shook nervously as I wrote to Dr. Ornstein. Here is the text of my letter, which I place here as a final note to explain how I have transcended the categories of reality-versus-illusion by his help, and thus brought into clear sight an end to 20 years' study and effort on my part. I quote:
Dear Dr. Ornstein:
Recently I met Mr. Henry Korman and Mr. Tony Hiss (Tony had come to interview me for the New Yorker). I got into a marvelous discussion with Henry about Sufism and I mentioned my admiration, bordering on fanatic enthusiasm, for your pioneer work with bilateral brain hemispheric parity. Thus, I, having learned that they know you, am summoning my courage to write you and ask, What has become of me, since experimenting with bringing on my right hemisphere (I did it mainly by ortho molecular formula vitamins, plus a good deal of concentrated meditation)?
By this I mean to say, Dr. Ornstein, ten months this took place, and for ten months I have been a different person. But what to me is most extraordinary (I am writing a book about it, but in the form of fiction, a novel called TO SCARE THE DEAD), is that -- well, let me give the premise as I placed it into the novel:
Nicholas Brady, an ordinary American citizen with contemporary worldly values and drives (money and power and prestige) suddenly has inside him a winking into life of an entity which has slumbered for 2,000 years. This entity is an Essene, who died knowing that he would be given the promised resurrection; he knew it because he and other Qumran individuals had in their possession secret formulŠ and medications and scientific practices to insure it. So suddenly our protagonist, Nicholas Brady, finds that there are two of him: his old self, at his secular job and goals, and this Essene from the Qumran wadi back circa 45 A.D., a holy man with holy values and utter antagonism to the secular physical world, which he sees as the "City of Iron." The Qumran mind takes over and directs Brady in a complicated series of acts until it becomes evident that others such as this Qumran man are coming back to life here and there in the world.
Studying the Bible, along with this Qumran personality, Brady finds that the New Testament is in cypher. The Qumran personality can read it. "Jesus" is really Zagreus-Zeus, taking two forms, one mild, the other utterly powerful, on which his followers can draw when in need.
The Qumran personality, who, for fictional purposes, I call Thomas, gradually informs Brady that these are the Parousia, the Final Days. And to be prepared; Thomas will prepare him by reminding him of his own divinity -- anamnesis, Thomas calls it. Thomas develops a special parity relationship with Brady, but evolves as a source of teaching for the incredibly ignorant Brady the entity known as Erasmus, who is in fact a station in the no÷sphere, which is now so fully charged around Earth that if you are aware of it you can consciously, rather than unconsciously, draw from it; these are the "Seas of Knowledge" which were known in ancient times and upon which the Sibyl at Delphi drew. But this is a cover, because Brady realizes that in point of fact, the Qumran men had as their god not the mythical Jesus but the actual Zagreus, and by doing research, Brady soon learns that Zagreus was a form of Dionysos. Christianity is a later form of the worship of Dionysos, refined through the strange and lovely figure of Orpheus. Orpheus, like Jesus, is real only in the sense that Dionysos is becoming socialized; born here as a child of another race, not a human one but a visiting race, Zagreus has had to learn by degrees to modify his "madness," which is now kept to a low ebb. Basically, he is with us to reconstruct us as expressions of him, and the MO of this is our being possessed by him -- which the early Christians sought for, and hid from the hated Romans, Dionysos-Zagreus-Orpheus-Jesus was always pitted against the City of Iron, be it Rome or Washington D.C.; he is the god of springtime, of new life, of small and helpless creatures, he is the god of mirth and frenzy, and of sitting here day after day working on this novel.
But in the novel, Thomas says, "The Final Days have come. The overthrow of the tyranny is that which, in lurid language, John described in Revelation. Jesus-Zagreus is seizing his own, now, one after another; he lives again."
During winter, it was believed that Dionysos, the god of the vine plant, of vegetation, of the crop, slumbered. It was known that no matter how dead he seemed (James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake is a wonderful account of this, where they accidentally spill beer on the corpse and it revives) he was actually alive, though you'd never know it. And then -- not to the surprise of those who understood him and believed in him -- he was reborn. His followers knew he would be; they knew the secret ("Behold! I tell you a sacred secret," etc.). We are speaking here of the mystery religions, all of them, including Christianity. Our God has been sleeping, during the long winter of the human culture (not for one year's rotational cycle of seasons, but from 45 A.D. through the centuries of mental winter to now); just when winter holds all in its grip, the snow of despair and defeat (in our case, political chaos, moral ruin, economic ruin -- the winter of our planet, our world, our civilization), then the vine, which was gnarled and old and seemingly dead, breaks into new life, and our God is reborn -- not outside us as such, but in each of us. Slumberng not under snow over the ground-surface but within the right hemispheres of our brains. We have been waiting, we didn't know for what. That is it: this is spring for our planet, in a deeper more fundamental way. The cold chains of iron are being thrown off, but by what a miracle. As with my character, Nicholas Brady -- I've had Zagreus awaken in my right hemisphere, and felt the flooding of renewed life, his vigor, his personality, and his godlike wisdom: he hated the injustice he saw around him, and the lies, and he remembered "The dear lone lands untroubled by men, where amid the shadowy green / The little ones of the forest live unseen." (Euripides) Dr. Ornstein, thank you for helping bring winter to an end, and ushering in -- not just spring -- but the living life of Spring alive but asleep inside us.
Really, I suppose that the clear line between hallucination and reality has itself become a kind of hallucination, and perhaps I am taking my dream experiences too seriously. But there is much interest now, for instance, in the Senoi tribe of the Malay Peninsula (vide Kilton Stewart's article "Dream Theory in Malaya," in Charles T. Tart's Altered States of Consciousness). In a dream I was shown that the word "Jesus" is a code, a neologism and not a real name at all; those reading the text in those early days who were the esoteri (the Qumran men, possibly) would see "Zeus" and "Zagreus" combined into the integer "Jesus." It is a substitution code, I think they call it. Now, ordinarily, one would not give much credit to such a dream, or rather to any dream insofar as it might be an actual entity, an AI system for instance, giving you accurate information which you otherwise would not have available to you. But as I went to one of my textbooks the other day to check a spelling. I found these remarkably similar textual passages, the first of which we all know, since it concludes our own sacred writings, the New Testament: "... I am the root and scion of David, the bright morning star." (Revelation 22:16, Jesus describing himself.) And:
Of all the trees that are
He hath his flock, and feedeth root by root,
The Joy-god Dionysos, the pure star
That shines amid the gathering of the fruit.
- Pindar, a favourite quatrain of Plutrach, circa 430 B.C.
What are names? This is the god of in-toxication, taking in the sacred mushroom (cf. John Allegro) or wine, or finding a joke so terribly funny that you lose all reason laughing and crying, as when you see one of the slapstick silent comedies. In the one short stanza of Pindar we have the flock, we have the trees, we have in addition to these two major symbols of Jesus, terms by which all the esoteri recognize him yet, two more inner terms: the root and star.
The reference to "root and star" might be taken as equal to a spatial extension of the time extension of "I am Alpha and Omega," which is, thee first and last. So "root and star" indicate: I am from the chthonic world up, and the starry heaven downwards. But I see something else in star, in bright morning star: I think he was saying, "The signal that the springtime for man is here, that signal comes from another star." We have friends and they are ETI, and it is, as He told us, a bright and morning star: the star or love.