Philip K. Dick Paved the Way for Postmodern Music Mysticism

This short excerpt features a quote from sci-fi author Philip K Dick on his spiritual awakening and how it relates to music.

In a private letter to John B. Ross, drawn from this book of letters dated 1980-1982, Philip K Dick laid out his own terminology for what is essentially a Neoplatonic (New-Plato) perspective. There’s a lot of technical language and it reads a little bulky, but there is a strong philosophical core. I’ve typed up the original quotes and then summarize.


With Locke I believed that our sense organs provide us our best knowledge of world. However, I believe that there are certain higher states of illumination which although still empirical in nature provide us with higher views of world – such states as the buddha entered, in which he saw … the coming into existence and the passing away of all things. He apparently had what I call a “slot” as compared to a “point” (or normal) present. His present extended back perhaps thousands of years. This different way of experiencing time and hence reality lay at the heart of buddhist moksa. I have had a taste (so to speak) of it myself, back in March 1974; VALIS depicts it, I saw a two-thousand year present slot, strange as this may sound. What I saw (which was a radically altered way of perceiving time) was world divided into two categories, something like Plato’s division between the archetypal forms and the phenomenal world but not quite; I saw what I call phylogons, which are permanent, and ontogons, which are temporary. For each phylogon, new accretional layers are laminated down in successive waves during the temporal process; but the ontogons, on the other hand, come into existence and then immediately pass away, leaving no permanent impression. The billions of phylogons are crosslinked to form a unitary reality which is Pythagoras’ kosmos, “the harmonious fitting-together of the beautiful”, a vast structure that is sentient, that assimilates its environment selectively, using the antecedent universe as a supply of parts. Once a phylogon is created it is eternal, undergoing only the addition of subsequent layers during the linear time process, of which A.N. Whitehead spoke” – PKD

To summarize, PKD had an experience in March 1974 that gave him direct knowledge of the principle of love in the cosmos. He uses his own terms, phylons and ontogons, from the words phylo– (love) and onto- (being), to describe two different types of phenomena. Phylogons build upon each other while ontogons pop in and out of existence, leaving no trace.

During his awakening, PKD saw the phylogons crosslinked to create a sentient super-structure that reaches through the whole cosmos and actively makes use of the universe for its own purpose. This is part of a larger theme explored in his Exegesis, regarding the dialectic between ZEBRA/VALIS and the BLACK IRON PRISON.


“As to the existence of God, Whitehead defined God as “A principle of selection which realizes the good in the world process,” and I saw the principle of selection at work; it is what I call VALIS … in dealing with epistemology I ask these questions:

1) If the world is not real, how would it differ if it were real?

2) If the world is real, how would it differ if it were not real? Would there be anything there at all, available to our senses?” – PKD

The questions above gives way to an important philosophical observation about the relationship between esoteric music cryptography and neoplatonic mysticism. 


Musical cryptogram = Irreal framework

My answer, based on my moksa of 1997, is that an irreal framework is laid out, like the falsework in Gothic Cathedrals, and then Deity installs ontology in it; Deity does this by making that framework binding on us, so that I define ontology as a transaction between percipient and object of such a nature (the transaction, I mean) that the percipient cannot escape the power of the object; this is a kind of pragmatic ontology, and deals with reality as an event, rather than hypostatizing it. Hypostasis is something we confer on reality, which is probably in itself an endless process, the laying down of the developing phylogons. Since in normal states we cannot distinguish a phylogon from an ontologon (a Beethoven Symphony is a phylogon, but Beethoven was an ontogon, for instance) we cannot really define reality in terms of ontogon-phylogon distinction.

These excerpts are way less abstract when you demonstrate their truth in practice. PKD gives a clue when he says that Beethoven is ontogon and his symphonies were phylogons; Beethoven the man will pop in and out of existence during his lifetime but his works are eternal. The “layering” that he described earlier is, quite simply, the ongoing performance of Beethoven’s work.

The “irreal framework” onto which “Deity” installs its consciousness resembles the relationship between a composer harmonizing musical elements (Deity) and the Western 12-note musical scale (irreal framework). 


These tone-color are in turn converted into the 22 Signs and Planets corresponding to the 22 Major Arcana and 22 letters of the hebrew alphabet. You already know what it is: www.audiomancy.net and www.astromusik.net


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