The Psychedelic Reinterpretation of Corpus Christi by Philip K. Dick

Bogdan Trocha
University of Zielona Góra, Poland, Zielona Góra.

ORCID 0000-0003-2348-4813


Keywords: sacrum, speculative fiction, gnostics, Judaism, Christianity, Philip K. Dick, interpretation of literary works.

Abstract. The article discusses the literary search for God as given in the novel The Transmigration of Timothy Archer by Philip K. Dick. Religious, theological and fantastic contexts of the novel are analyzed here. The author also presents some cultural aspects of the novel. Set in late 1960s and 1970s, it is one of the novels in his Valis triptych where the search for God and His hidden essence is fulfilled through traditional theological and philosophical texts of Judeo-Christian culture and gnosis. Its main protagonist, bishop Timothy Archer, is on a quest for uniting man with the infinite divine, coping with the juxtaposition of the official interpretation of religious texts and the newly discovered fragments of Zadokite texts. Studying these texts, Archer gains knowledge of the anokhi fungus, abandons the idea of contacting with God, and focuses on the practice of hallucinogenic communion that gives him the knowledge leading to the most suitable way to avoid the final experience of death. Tracing the shift in the main protagonist’s worldview, the author shows us the dilemmas that a homo religiosus faces in his search of the divine caused by mistranslated texts. This article thus deals with the opposing phenomena of spiritual passivity and practical attitude towards the world, the religious ecstasy the protagonist seeks and the experience of narcotic trance he turns to in the end, and the manipulation of terms ‘body of Christ’ and the Fungus. Still, further research into the ecstatic experience and its role in culture is needed.

Author Biography.

Bogdan Trocha, Dr. hab., Professor, University of Zielona Góra, Poland, Zielona Góra.


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Published: March 10, 2020.

Vol 17 No 1 (2020).