[NB] Erasmus – Dionysus – Zebra

Okay, another PKD post coming at you, straight from the Exegesis. This one is working toward a discussion of the relationship between the discharge of the dream, the spiritualist talk of giving light, and to consider what it means to call a spirit by name from this perspective. This one is going to wade a little deeper into Dick’s wilder and contradictory speculations, so my best advice is to try and take it all in bit.

One of the things that Dick struggled with was the specificity of a voice that speaks to him and that it speaks in what seems to be Attic Greek. Here is Dick:

“Why Attic Greek? This points so to the past, to the time of Socrates. To his daimon—there, I said it; my daimon, maybe all of them, are his, specifically his, a Greek-speaking (originally) one. Attic Greece is somehow the core, the matrix, for all this—Why?”(163)

This specificity fuels all sorts of things. Like:

“I did something I never did before: I commanded the entity to show itself to me—the entity which has been guiding me internally since March. A sort of dream-like period passed….I had Dionysos….I’d never connected…with Dionysos, even though I’d been shown that Zagreus and Jesus are the same….Dionysos is not only related to Zagreus; he is even more important in that he is the first mystery god, the first one we know of. He appeared abruptly in Attika in 600 B.C., coeval with Elijah.” (99)

(Be a little kind to Dick regarding that timeline; he was doing the best he could with what he had.)


“[It was] Erasmus….all that stuff about Greece and Dionysos was crazy, based on the fact that—Tessa and I looked him up—that Erasmus was one of the first Greek scholars. I ‘imagined’ the world of Greece and all of that stuff. Based on Erasmus’ head. You see. Now he was laughing because the joke was on me.” (107)

Whew, right? We have Erasmus, Socrates’s daimon, Dionysos, Jesus, and (not mentioned here) an early Christian all in the mix as the Dick’s guiding voice. One thing that I adore about Dick is that, unlike a lot of his spiritualist and theosophical predecessors, he isn’t leaping to settle the matter, which lets him entertain a wider perspective which might resolve the diversity.

“Are you the joy god Dionysos of root and star? … Oh, goat god Dionysos! I recognize you: you are too wise, too experienced with our dangerous race to expose yourself to harm at our hands. We would kill and freeze you into stasis…but this is only your exoskeleton! Inside this form which I glimpse, you are motion and rapid change….Better this petrified fossil that I am should stay dead so that you can live on in immortality….So ‘Erasmus’ was Zebra was Dionysos—the joy God! ‘Erasmus’ introduces the quality of wisdom.” (246)

Now, over the course of the Exegesis the talk of Erasmus and Dionysos peters out, becoming increasingly esoterically Christian and I think we can make sense of that around this quote. The names themselves represent shells, things that contain the real spiritual force and it is precisely as Dick works through these shells that the names become decreasingly relevant for him, as do their historical ties.

The identity of ‘Philip K. Dick’ is in this way no different than that of Dionysos, the outer trappings, subsequently to become remains, of the spiritual force at work. Dick again:

“My question now, when you consider before Christianity were the other Greek mystery religions and before that Tammuz and Adonis and especially Osiris in Egypt—can we be sure these different religious groups are experiencing different entities—or rather isn’t it just the names which differ? … Maybe a demiurge or mediating spirit which has no copula identity; i.e., no intrinsic name, such as we have? … Maybe there just is no common language between our space-time universe and the Eternal World.” (170)

Dick continues in this vein and offers what is perhaps the most honest account of the work that I have ever encountered:

“In 14 months I’ve found that my experience fits every description of personal mystic religious experience and none, every specific religion and none: each system or explanation works as well as any other, but none really is congruent; there is always a part left over, and in the night that small unexplained part or fact grows like the mustard seed or the leaven until it is the whole loaf or landscape by morning. It’s as if the experience itself were alive.” (171)

I want to hold onto the idea that this experience is alive, and keep in mind the image of Zebra from the last post. Add to that:

“One could speculate that this is the purpose of human beings: Why We Are Here—to serve as the recipient ‘female’ ‘mothers’ for the implantation of the solar spermatika, the divine seeds.” (150)

“What acted was the Immanent Mind [i.e., Zebra] which carries within it (the Container of all the objects) me and everyone else including my total environment….it used to be called The Gods, in the Greek sense, not in the Hebrew sense….our society, inadequately informed on what the pre-Socratics knew, and the mystery religions and other Greek thinkers knew, continue on unaware of the forces which ultimately govern. We are the acted-upon, which is what is meant by, ‘Beware of hubris.'” (153-54)

“We must function in some very loose physical arrangement, but with a field exchange created, such as social insects…the Great Mind is made up of diverse and even discrete physical entities which form an exchange field capable of a vast variety of interconnections….but don’t need to be mechanically linked….Beebread. We are fed in each individual cell, but must emerge to join cooperative.” (154-56)

And part of that diet upon which we are fed? The myths and stories that constitute our communal and personal individuality. It’s important to point out that this isn’t the loss of individuality, but its transmutation to a different plane. That suggests the names (e.g., Dionysos, Erasmus) represent thresholds of that process, simultaneously a fossil to be consumed and a new life unfolding.

Or, to use a term from Dick mentioned in the last post: that the discharge of a symbol (dream or otherwise) is the cannibalization of a piece of reality for the sake of its being re-purposed. The feeding in our individual cells is more than just preparatory for a higher communion, it is itself the first act of that communion.

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