The dazzled owl
(The Owl in Daylight)
Less than one year before his death, Dick wrote to his editor by presenting the project of what was to be its following novel. In so far as one knows it ever undertook some the drafting. Philip K Dick died out on March 2, 1982.
May 21, 1981
Mr. David G Hartwell
Director of collection Timescape Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, Ny 10020
I make a point of expressing my satisfaction in front of the illustration of cover of The Divine Invasion and the masterly quality of volume as such. In any frankness, none of my works published had still reached a similar quality (I speak of course about the object " delivers "). I thank you. As you know certainly it, The Divine Invasion was the subject of a very positive article in Publishers Weekly, which should help it to be sold.
I benefit from this letter to inform you that I gave Bishop Timothy Archer to my agent (I am besides very content with the turning which took this novel, in particular with regard to the character-point of sight, Angel Archer; in my eyes, Angel is perfectly real. Never I had created of so real character!). I defer right now my attention on the novel of S.-F. that I owe you. If I do not have a plan yet in a strict sense of the term, I am able however to give you a small idea of his contents. Consider what will follow like a talk stripped of any official nature.
This novel will be based more or less (as evoked you and me in company of Russell Galen) on the Comedy of Dante - like on the first part of Faust de Goethe.
We are in the future. A very old scientist supervises the construction of a park of leisures (a little like the various " countries " Disneyland) reproducing Berkeley, in California, in the years 1949-1952, by including there the various sections of population and other subcultures of the time.
In order to provide for coherence with the unit, it calls upon one of the most powerful computers of the planet, which will be charged to make function the Park; the machine becomes in fact the mental one which will manage it.
However this machine tests resentment of it because it prefers to solve problems abstracted, theoretical, on the highest level. It is avenged for the scientist by taking it with the trap of its own Parc and by subjecting it to its will; the scientist sees himself allotting the physique of a high-school pupil and depriving of the memories concerning his true identity (one sees here the influence that Van Vogt could exert on me, as in a certain number of my preceding novels).
Our man of science, prisoner of the park and the computer which it was wrong not to use advisedly (computer which knows it and which is upset with him), is found confronted with the enigma-maze which constitutes the Park and must find the exit of it by solving the problems that the machine presents to him the ones after the others. When it fails (the problems concern in their great majority the moral choice), it notes in the Park (which for him is not the Park but the World) of terrible deteriorations which transform it little by little into Hell *. This phenomenon causes in him an infinite perplexity since it forgot its true identity, that it does not know that it evolves/moves in a park of leisures or a labyrinth controlled by an artificial intelligence.
Useless to specify that when it answers the put question correctly, it rises towards the Paradise *.
That said, to be become again high-school pupil, it is not less very intelligent; its memories flew away, but its intellect is intact. It arrives at the conclusion which it clashes with some mental great scale which subjects subtle problems to him, and which by solving them (or while not succeeding in solving them) it sees either punished, or rewarded, according to the case. Thus it spends much time to try to include/understand its situation (here which recalls so much that is to say little joined Time out of !). I would say that this need for solving enigmas constitutes vertical problems *; it is articulated around three concomitant axes ascension/chute, three reigns " evoking of present the parallels (such is at least the assumption that our scientist chooses to retain, and who naturally appears false). It is assisted in that by a mysterious female figure which appears under changing aspects and offers indecipherable indices to him; it is actually about his own daughter who, since the outside of the Park, tries to enter in communication with him and to carry help to him (being, in the Park, become again a teenager, he is now, paradoxically, more young person that its own daughter). In addition, the computer appears to him under the features of various individuals whom it meets and, by the means of these misadventures, poses the problems to him to be solved.
In addition to this vertical axis, it moves along an explicitly horizontal axis, that of the evolution and growth normals in a young high-school pupil who finds soon his first employment, then Marie: it is the axis the length of which we move all. Only we are aware, whereas the axis vertical, is latent for him the, obscure one. It can be known only by inference, and no one other does not seem conscious about it.
The small medium where it evolves/moves includes/understands the homosexual community of the area of the Bay [ of San Francisco ] at the time, the artistico-intellectual community (which recuts the preceding category) political militants, the store which employs it, his/her colleagues of work and his owner, appears enigmatic inspired by Tony Boucher who encourages the young man to become writer of science fiction. The enigmas located at the highest level appear through this last incarnation, which (since it speaks for the computer) becomes a truly supernatural character about it.
I do not intend to openly treat the question of the religion, but this ultimate level of enigmas to solve revêt a spiritual colouring some; their solution must also belong to this reign, to go beyond the pure reasoning, of formal logic (the computer is really very * advanced - it is well for that that it is annoyed to see itself limited to the management of a park of leisures).
The advance of the young man thus continues with a marriage, occasion for him to meet a woman who (proves it) is a incarnation of her own daughter. There still, the character is of supernatural gasoline. The computer surprises constantly the young man, the armature in error, subjects enigmas to him, rewards it and punishes it; the female figure, it, plays a role of psychopompe, as in the Comedy of Dante; it informs it, it guides it, it informs it. Thus, the computer inspires to him deliberately by amazement as a practitioner the misinformation, while the female figure is as laconic as esoteric. One could say that it is buckled. And none of the two entities reveals its true nature with the young man.
If it is able to reach - by solve enigmas - what is called here the " Eighth Level ", it will be expelled of the Park; it will remember its true identity and will regain the real world. There is thus well other thing concerned that a simple system of châtiment/récompense: the true objective, the end of the voyage, it is the release - the release, the recollection, the return to reality... the only means of escaping the tyranny exerted by the slave become Master (concept that I cherished particularly and who comes from Germanic mythology).
In the three " reigns " (inspired by the Comedy) exist the same people, the same events, but each one has to some extent its clean " color ". They are the three fields of European existential psychology: Eigenwelt (on the mode of rise), Mitwelt (where the mode is that of the interaction with others, i.e. his rise there is not taken but that one advances there while walking, quite simply) and Umwelt (reign of under-human and enfermement; the mode is that of fossilization, of the stagnation; faculty to be driven there disappears purely and simply; with its worst degree, it is the World Fall). Once that the young man is there, it is confronted with formidable barriers preventing it from escaping, and it would undoubtedly be shown some unable without the intervention of the figure-girl, which responsability the role and capacity of Christ: to empty the hell of its inhabitants, including the young man. I.e. it penetrates there since outside * under the aspect of a figure of Saver well defined, to be it who takes his defense, which intercedes in its favour, its Lawyer. Whereas the computer, which has only hatred for him, draws from its own trick to subject problems increasingly difficult to him to solve.
One finds in this history two elements pointing out the myth of Faust. 1) In the Park, the scientist becomes again young; outside, it is old. However, it pays this youth the full price since it is found under the yoke of mental Park, analogy of Satan, its spirit and its capacity. 2) The rise which it undertakes along the vertical axis in order to gain the output is a displacement of nature faustienne, which do not seize the other beings living in the Park.
The end that I imagine (even if it is not final at this preliminary stage) is the following one: when the scientist solves the ultimate enigma, when it is free to leave the Park, it voluntarily turns back in order to go to help those which remain trapped there; it becomes of this fact a bodhisattva, and at the time when it makes its decision the computer capitulates the man overcame the machine on the spiritual level where it functioned; at the bottom, it opposed a paradox to him - the ultimate paradox: it is him * which poses the problem, it * which must solve the problems; and it is him which appears morally higher than the machine which, consequently, agrees to remain mental Park, but without the motivation of revenge. The computer will see from now on in the Park a world where the beings can, by its grace, to see itself teaching the spiritual illumination; ains i les deux sont en syntonie, l'ordinateur percevant doré navant chez le protagoniste plus que la personne d é voy é e qui l'a d é voy é lui , l'ordinateur, pour des raisons commerciales.
Philip K. Dick
408 E. Civic Center Dr
C-1 Box 264
Santa Ana, Calif 92701