Friday, February 22, 2013

Philip K. Dick's The Divine Invasion ~ Sacred Writings disguised as Science Fiction

Through the port of his dome he made out a bent figure shuffling across the frozen wasteland. An autochthone gripping a meager bundle; it was on some errand.
Pressing the switch of the external bullhorn, Herb Asher said, "Step in here a minute, Clem." This was the name the human settlers had given to the autochthons, to all of them, since they all looked alike. "I need a second opinion."
The autochthone, scowling, shuffled to the hatch of the dome and signaled for entry. Herb Asher activated the hatch mechanism and the intermediate membrane dropped into place. The autochthon disappeared inside. A moment later the displeased autochthon stood within the dome, shaking off methane crystals and glowering at Herb Asher.
Getting out his translating computer, Asher spoke to the autochthon. "This will take just a moment." His analog voice issued from the instrument in a series of clicks and clacks. "I'm getting audio interference that I can't shut off. Is it something your people are doing? Listen."
The autochthon listened, his root-like face twisted and dark. Finally he spoke, and his voice, in English, assumed an unusual harshness. "I hear nothing."
"You're lying," Herb Asher said.
The autochthon said, "I am not lying. Perhaps your mind has gone, due to isolation."
"I thrive on isolation. Anyhow I'm not isolated." He had, after all, the Fox to keep him company.
"I've seen it happen," the autochthon said. "Domers like you suddenly imagine voices and shapes."
Herb Asher got out his stereo microphones, turned on his tape recorder and watched the VU meters. They showed nothing. He turned the gain up to full. Still the VU meters remained idle; their needles did not move. Asher coughed and at once both needles swung wildly and the overload diodes flashed red. Well, the tape recorder simply was not picking up the soupy string music, for some reason. He was more perplexed than ever. The autochthon, seeing all this, smiled.
Into the stereo microphones Asher said distinctly, " '0 tell me all about Anna Livia! I want to hear all about Anna Livia. Well, you know Anna Livia? Yes, of course, we all know Anna Livia. Tell me all. Tell me now. You'll die when you hear. Well, you know, when the old cheb went futt and did what you know. Yes, I know, go on. Wash quit and don't be dabbling. Tuck up your sleeves and loosen your talktapes. And don't butt me- hike !-when you bend. Or whatever-'"
"What is this?" the autochthon said, listening to the translation into his own tongue. Grinning, Herb Asher said, "A famous Terran book. 'Look, look, the dusk is growing. My branches lofty are taking root. And my cold cher's gone ashley. Fieluhr? Filou! What age is at? It saon is late. 'Tis endless now senne- "The man is mad," the autochthon said, and turned toward the hatch, to leave.
"It's Finnegans Wake," Herb Asher said. "I hope the translating computer got it for you. 'Can't hear with the waters of. The chittering waters of. Flittering bats, fieldmice bawk talk. Ho! Are you not gone ahome? What Thom Malone? Can't hear-'The autochthon had left, convinced of Herb Asher's insanity. Asher watched him through the port; the autochthon strode away from the dome in indignation.
Again pressing the switch of the external bullhorn, Herb Asher yelled after the retreating figure, "You think James Joyce was crazy, is that what you think? Okay; then explain to me how come he mentions 'talktapes' which means audio tapes in a book he wrote starting in 1922 and which he completed in 1939. Before there were tape recorders! You call that crazy? He also has them sitting around a TV set-in a book started four years after World War I. I think Joyce was a- The autochthon had disappeared over a ridge. Asher released the switch on the external bullhorn.
It's impossible that James Joyce could have mentioned 'talk- tapes" in his writing, Asher thought. Someday I'm going to get my article published; I'm going to prove that Finnegans Wake is an information pool based on computer memory systems that didn't exist until a century after James Joyce's era; that Joyce was plugged into a cosmic consciousness from which he derived the inspiration for his entire corpus of work. I'll be famous forever. [He's not just talking about Joyce, but himself as well.] What must it have been like, he wondered, to actually hear Cathy Berberian read from Ulysses? If only she had recorded the whole book. But, he realized, we have Linda Fox.
His tape recorder was still on, still recording. Aloud, Herb Asher said, "I shall say the hundred-letter thunder word." The needles of the VU meters swung obediently. "Here I go," Asher said, and took a deep breath. 'This is the hundred-letter thunder word from Finnegans Wake. I forget how it goes." He went to the bookshelf and got down the cassette of Finnegans Wake. "I shall not recite it from memory," he said, inserting the cassette and rolling it to the first page of the text. "It is the longest word in the English language," he said. "It is the sound made when the primordial schism occurred in the cosmos, when part of the damaged cosmos fell into darkness and evil. Originally we had the Garden of Eden, as Joyce points out. Joyce-"
His radio sputtered on. The foodman was contacting him, telling him to prepare to receive a shipment. "...awake?" the radio said. Hopefully.
Contact with another human. Herb Asher shrank involuntarily. Oh Christ, he thought. He trembled. No, he thought. Please no.

"Oh, then that soap opera isn't a soap opera." She turned to the screen of the TV. "I've been intercepting a psychotronic information-transfer. I must have plugged in the wrong cable. Damn. Well, what the hell. I thought it was on the air an awful lot of the time."

"I do remember some things, then," Emmanuel said.
"You'll remember more. You see, you set up a disinhibiting stimulus that would remind you before-well, when the right time came. You're the only one who knows what the stimulus is. Even Elias doesn't know it. I don't know it; you hid it from me, back when you were what you were."
"I am what I am now," Emmanuel said.
"Yes, except that you have an impaired memory," Zina said, pragmatically. "So it isn't the same.
"I guess not," the boy said. "I thought you said you could make me remember."
"There are different kinds of remembering. Elias can make you remember a little, and I can make you remember more; but only your own disinhibiting stimulus can make you be. The word is .. . you have to bend close to me to listen; only you should hear this word. No, I'll write it." Zina took a piece of paper from a nearby desk, and a length of chalk, and wrote one word.
Gazing down at the word, Emmanuel felt memory come to him, but only for a nanosecond; at once-almost at once-it departed. "Hayah," he said, aloud.
"That is the Divine Tongue," Zina said.
"Yes," he said. "I know." The word was Hebrew, a Hebrew root word. And the Divine Name itself came from that word. He felt a vast and terrible awe; he felt afraid.
"Fear not," Zina said quietly.
"I am afraid," Emmanuel said, "because for a moment I remembered." Knew, he thought, who I am.

But he forgot again. By the time he and the girl had gone outside into the yard he no longer knew. And yet-strange!-he knew that he had known, known and forgotten again almost at once. As if, he thought, I have two minds inside me, one on the surface and the other in the depths. The surface one has been injured but the deep one has not. And yet the deep one can't speak; it is closed up. Forever? No; there would be the stimulus, one day. 
His own device.
Probably it was necessary that he not remember. Had he been able to recall into consciousness everything, the basis of it all, then the government would have killed him. 
There existed two heads of the beast, the religious one, a Cardinal Fulton Statler Harms, and then a scientific one named N. Bulkowsky. But these were phantoms. To Emmanuel the Christian-Islamic Church and the Scientific Legate did not constitute reality. He knew what lay behind them. Elias had told him. But even had Elias not told him he would have known anyhow; he would everywhere and at every time be able to identify the Adversary. What did puzzle him was the girl Zina. Something in the situation did not ring right. Yet she had not lied; she could not lie. He had not made it possible for her to deceive; that constituted her fundamental nature: her veracity. All he had to do was ask her.

"Yah made me sick?" Rybys said. After a pause Elias nodded.
"What is this?" Rybys said furiously. "A coup of some kind? You're going to smuggle-"
Interrupting her, Elias said in a low, harsh voice, "The Roman X Fretensis."
"Masada," Rybys said. "Seventy-three C.E. Right? I thought so. I started thinking so when a Clem told me about the mountain deity at our Station Five."
"He lost," Elias said. "The Tenth Legion was made up of fifteen thousand experienced soldiers. But Masada held out for almost two years. And there were less than a thousand Jews at Masada, including women and children."
To Herb Asher, Rybys said. "Only seven women and children survived the fall of Masada. It was a Jewish fortress. They had hidden in a water conduit." To Elias Tate she said, "And Yahweh was driven from the Earth."
"And the hopes of man," Elias said, "faded away."
Herb Asher said, "What are you two talking about?"
"A fiasco," Elias Tate said briefly.
"So he-Yah-first makes me sick, and then he-" She broke off. "Did he start out from this star system originally? Or was he driven here?"
"He was driven here," Elias said. "There is a zone around Earth now. A zone of evil. It keeps him out."
"The Lord?" Rybys said. "The Lord is kept out? Away from Earth?" She stared at Elias Tate.
"The people of Earth do not know," Elias Tate said.
"But you know," Herb Asher said. "Right? How do you know all these things? How do you know so much? Who are you?"
Elias Tate said, "My name is Elijah."

More excerpts on the way... In other news, PKD's Man in the High Castle will be adapted to TV, there are some good people working on it though it's for SyFy so it might go either way.
Also check out 42 Minutes fascinating interview with Anthony Peake on "VALIS as Daemon? PKD and the VALIS-Loop." 01.29.13 Episode 69: Anthony Peake. Chapter 25 of The Sync Book Vol. 2. Visit: Listen to Anthony's own podcast, The Peake Experience: The Anthony Peake Consciousness Hour.

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