‘I am one of the secret Christians battling the Black Iron Prison’

Typed Letter, signed (“Love, Phil”), to “Pat” [Patricia Warrick], 10 January 1981, on anamnesis and identity, the events of March 1974, and his novel Valis.

Santa Ana, California: 10 January 1981.

Price: $7,500.00

About the item

5 pages, single spaced, with one small manuscript diagram and occasional corrections. Signed on the last leaf. 1 vols. 4to. ‘I am one of the secret Christians battling the Black Iron Prison’. Fine. With original mailing envelope.

Item #315289

An outstanding letter from Philip K. Dick (1928-1982), the “Shakespeare of Science Fiction”, writes (in part): “And in March 1974 I saw a prison; we are in it; I call it (as in VALIS) the Black Iron Prison, and it is trans-temporal or supra-temporal; it exists at all times and places […] this is what I conceptually perceived that day when I was shown the golden fish sign; I remembered the cosmic dialectic, the war between the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness, the great dualistic confrontation and combat of Zoroastrianism. I have lived again and again but always played the same role in this battle: I am one of the secret Christians battling the Black Iron Prison, which is the Empire […]”
Elsewhere Dick observes, “Now I know I said most of this in VALIS, and at the risk of repeating myself and seeming to be more obsessed and nuts than I am in fact am I will despite this go on to say, I believe that this unveiling of ‘phylogenic’ time requires the human brain to perform a function so advanced, so meta-normal, that when the brain does it, the person is not a person any longer, in the sense that we usually use the term; he has transferred himself from one ontological realm of being to quite another one, and has ceased to be himself … and yet what he has become I simply do not know. […] The trouble with all this is that when you say it you indict yourself as a palpable madman.”
The recipient, academic Patricia S. Warrick, was a scholar who explored the fraught relations between humans and cybernetic beings, robots, and androids. She was author of ‪The Cybernetic Imagination in Science Fiction‪ (1980)‬ and ‪Mind in Motion: The Fiction of Philip K. Dick‪ (1987)‬, “the most thorough study of his entire oeuvre yet published” (SFE); with Isaac Asimov and Martin H. Greenberg, Warrick edited a notable anthology, Machines That Think: The Best Science Fiction Stories about Robots & Computers (1984). In a 1982 essay the great literary scholar Frederic Jameson called Philip K. Dick the “Shakespeare of Science Fiction”.
Rich in philosophical speculation and charged with Dick’s awareness of how crazy he can sometimes seem, a choice and substantial letter from a great American science fiction author.