“I saw God,” Fat states, and Kevin and I and Sherri state, “No, you just saw something likeGod, exactly like God.” And having spoke, we do not stay to hear the answer, like jesting Pilate, upon his asking, “What is truth?”
– Philip K. Dick, VALIS
In February and March, 1974, Philip K. Dick (December 16, 1928 – March 2, 1982) met God. You can read about the meeting in The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick. What Dick called his “divine madness” and inspiration go hand-in-hand, so the familiar sounding God became VALIS – Vast Active Living Intelligence System, which became a 1981 novel in which the narrator Horselover Fat believes his visions reveal hidden truth about life as we know it.
Looking on was cartoonist Robert Crumb, who introduced us to his God in his Book of Genesis. In issue #17 Weirdo (1986), the magazine Crumb created in 19081, the artist narrated and illustrated Dick’s meeting with the supreme being in The Religious Experience of Philip K. Dick.
The story begins with PKD recovering from a drug-aided wisdom tooth extraction. The pharmaceutical delivery girl arrives at his door. She is wearing a golden fish pendant.
In that instant, as I stared at the gleaming fish sign and heard her words, I suddenly experienced what I later learned is called anamnesis—a Greek word meaning, literally, “loss of forgetfulness.” I remembered who I was and where I was. In an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, it all came back to me. And not only could I remember it but I could see it. The girl was a secret Christian and so was I. We lived in fear of detection by the Romans. We had to communicate with cryptic signs. She had just told me all this, and it was true.
For a short time, as hard as this is to believe or explain, I saw fading into view the black, prisonlike contours of hateful Rome. But, of much more importance, I remembered Jesus, who had just recently been with us, and had gone temporarily away, and would very soon return. My emotion was one of joy. We were secretly preparing to welcome Him back. It would not be long. And the Romans did not know. They thought He was dead, forever dead. That was our great secret, our joyous knowledge. Despite all appearances, Christ was going to return, and our delight and anticipation were boundless.
– The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick