I’ve just finished PKD’s pseudo-fictional pseudo-biographical novel, VALIS, and i think he was on to something.
PKD always has a way to be almost predictable, but just not quite. His semi-religious ramble is almost typical esoteric gibberish, but there is just a hint of something that goes against the very essence of it.
In the end, they are crazy.
PKD depicts himself in the novel as a complete lunatic, to the point that he admits to us that there are two characters that are him, Phillip and Horselover. He even mocks the lack of creativity in choosing the name that is a poor translation of his own name.
But this is not the end that i was talking. Actually, this is the very beginning of the book, he starts by giving all the possible reasons why the reader shouldn’t trust the writer. And then he progresses by weaving an intricate and paranoid vision of the world, where he mixes all the customary ingredients (a bit of Christian mythology, a bit of eastern religions, some epistemology and conflicting divinities). But together with this fanatical theory he gives us also all the reasons why you should not at all believe those ideas, you shouldn’t put your energy on them.
But this is still not the end. This is the middle of the book. The development. What i mean by saying that in the end they are all crazy is, at a certain point he manages to make his disturbed notion of the world and his delusions and his theories all part of his sanity. It is like he still has a part of himself that searches for God in a pink ray of light but at the same time he is aware that if Bowie believes he has three eyes he’s not likely to have a reliable picture of life.
In the end he is able to see how mad everyone is, beginning with himself, and make the better with it. He doesn’t “embrace madness”, he turns madness into part of his sanity.
It probably is bad literature, but it is amazing food for thought. Or maybe it is brilliant for being so close to being bad. Or unexplainable. Or, you know, genius.