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TOPIC: "Meditations on a Radiant Fish": Philip K. Dick

"Meditations on a Radiant Fish": Philip K. Dick 10 Jul 2013 22:47 #13407

opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/20...-philosopher-part-1/

Interesting piece by philosopher Simon Critchley on an experience that Philip K. DIck had which seems to have borne some kind of resemblance to 'awakening,' and how this relates to Gnosticism and questions of the nature of reality. I disagree with various points Critchley makes, but I think the first part especially is interesting for anyone with an interest in these kinds of experiences (i.e. us). And, even though Critchley ends up giving Gnosticism a bad rap, also interesting for those of us who find the Christian mystical traditions fascinating (and their cross-over with Western philosophy) - particularly their take on the nature and meaning of experienced 'reality.' There's some thought-provoking points on the relationship between mystical experience and worldly politics (even predicting the future), and on questions of 'reality as information.'

I must confess I've been meaning to read Dick for ages but haven't done so, though natch I've seen various of the films based on his work...

Dick suddenly experienced what he called, with a nod to Plato, anamnesis: the recollection or total recall of the entire sum of knowledge. Dick claimed to have access to what philosophers call the faculty of “intellectual intuition”: the direct perception by the mind of a metaphysical reality behind screens of appearance. Many philosophers since Kant have insisted that such intellectual intuition is available only to human beings in the guise of fraudulent obscurantism, usually as religious or mystical experience, like Emmanuel Swedenborg’s visions of the angelic multitude. This is what Kant called, in a lovely German word, “die Schwärmerei,” a kind of swarming enthusiasm, where the self is literally en-thused with the God, o theos. Brusquely sweeping aside the careful limitations and strictures that Kant placed on the different domains of pure and practical reason, the phenomenal and the noumenal, Dick claimed direct intuition of the ultimate nature of what he called “true reality.”

...after Dick experienced the events of what he came to call “2-3-74” (the events of February and March of that year), he devoted the rest of his life to trying to understand what had happened to him ... Dick writes, “My exegesis, then, is an attempt to understand my own understanding.” The book is the most extraordinary and extended act of self-interpretation, a seemingly endless thinking on the event of 2-3-74 that always seems to begin anew. Often dull, repetitive and given to bouts of massive paranoia, “Exegesis” also possesses many passages of genuine brilliance and is marked by an utter and utterly disarming sincerity. At times, as in the epigraph above, Dick falls into melancholic dejection and despair. But at other moments, like some latter day Simon Magus, he is possessed of a manic swelling-up of the ego to unify with the divine: “I was in the mind of God.”
Last Edit: 11 Jul 2013 00:39 by every3rdthought.
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"Meditations on a Radiant Fish": Philip K. Dick 11 Jul 2013 00:15 #13408

This is very interesting; thanks for the link, and bringing it to our attention.

There are some weird missed path crossings between me & Mr. Dick: Berkeley, Pt. Reyes, Fullerton... coincidental places, just no coincident timing. Not surprising, since I was four when he spent his short time at UC Berkeley...
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"Meditations on a Radiant Fish": Philip K. Dick 11 Jul 2013 08:27 #13412

Assuming Dick had an awakening experience - it is always fascinating to hear one described by someone without a context to put it in! I'd be surprised if unanticipated awakenings by human beings has been written off as hallucinations, mental illness, witchcraft and all manner of strange thing other than awakening.
Last Edit: 11 Jul 2013 08:28 by Chris Marti.
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"Meditations on a Radiant Fish": Philip K. Dick 11 Jul 2013 09:41 #13418

How common is it for people, post-awakening, to want to come up with a model for the universe? That urge/need strikes me as more of an A&P type opening, which contains a lot of insight but doesn't quite resolve the angst. That's what leads me towards the "opening" but not "awakening" conclusion, but I just don't know.
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"Meditations on a Radiant Fish": Philip K. Dick 11 Jul 2013 13:06 #13421

Oh, there's definitely a desire after awakening to communicate to people, "Listen to what just happened to me!" Not so much build a model but that could easily be part of it for some. It sure as heck changed some of the models I had been assuming were "true" prior to the thing happening. And without context? Probably more so.
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"Meditations on a Radiant Fish": Philip K. Dick 11 Jul 2013 13:16 #13422

That tendency seems to follow many big changes, from early mystical experiences to later shifts... partly a sort of missionary zeal because you are so moved by what happened, partly a personal attempt to sort out what the heck it all meant?
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"Meditations on a Radiant Fish": Philip K. Dick 11 Jul 2013 15:02 #13425

I haven't read this, but based on one line alone ("he devoted the rest of his life to trying to understand what had happened to him"), it sounds like a hell of an A&P. :-)
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