Wow! That’s how I’ll start my review on this book. Philip Dick uses the vehicle of fiction to understand the meaning behind his spiritual experience. I have had a similar experience, and much of what is revealed in Valis runs parallel to what happened to me, which is why I personally resonated with the story.
What drew me in was Dick’s use of first and third person in the narration. The reason for the switch was so that the narrator could be more objective about his spiritual experience. However, this split in narration evolves into something greater, which I won’t mention here. Dick’s decision to use two points of view is eventually made very clear. I couldn’t see this story being told any other way.
Valis is filled with introspection, madness, and spiritual insight, all effectively seasoned with humor. Dick never takes himself too seriously and always makes it seem as if he’s open to every explanation that he muses over. My personal favorites in this book were the movie sequence, the banter between Phil and his friends about the meaning behind it and their subsequent meeting of Sophia, which I won’t go into here as I don’t want to give it away. During the reading of the book, I was noticing similarities between Dick and Robert Anton Wilson, and I was pleasantly surprised when Dick mentioned Wilson’s book, Cosmic Trigger!
Valis is not an easy book to read, and the plot is thin, but if you’re looking for something with philosophical and spiritual depth, you’ll enjoy it.
What makes this book visionary fiction? I only have to use some of Dick’s own words to demonstrate why:
“You carry in you now the voice and authority of Widsom; you are, therefore, Wisdom, even when you forget it.”
I’ve written a blog post about how Valis resonated with my own kundalini awakening. Click here if you’d like to read it.