Literary Quotations
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VALIS

by: Philip K. Dick


It is sometimes an appropriate response to reality to go insane.

--Chapter 1

Let it be said that one of the first symptoms of psychosis is that the person feels perhaps he is becoming psychotic. It is another Chinese fingertrap. You cannot think about it without becoming part of it. By thinking about madness, [one] ... slipped by degrees into madness.

--Chapter 1

The mentally disturbed do not employ the Principle of Scientific Parsimony: the most simple theory to explain a given set of facts. They shoot for the baroque.

--Chapter 2

Perhaps this is the bottom line to mental illness: incomprehensible events occur; your life becomes a bin for hoax-like fluctuations of what used to be reality. And not only that--as if that weren't enough--but you ... ponder forever over these fluctuations in an effort to order them into a coherancy, when in fact the only sense they make is the sense you impose on them, out of necessity to restore everything into shapes and processes you can recognize. The first thing to depart in mental illness is the familiar. And what takes its place is bad news because not only can you not understand it, you also cannot communicate it to other people. The madman experiences something, but what it is or where it comes from he does not know.

--Chapter 2

God is either powerless, stupid or he doesn't give a shit.

--Chapter 2

Matter is plastic in the face of Mind.

--Chapter 3

The distinction between sanity and insanity is narrower than the razor's edge, sharper than a hound's tooth, more agile than a mule deer. It is more elusive than the merest phantom. Perhaps it does not even exist; perhaps it is a phantom.

--Chapter 4

No man is infinitely strong; for every creature that runs, flies, hops or crawls there is a terminal nemesis which he will not circumvent, which will finally do him in.

--Chapter 5

For each person there is a sentence--a series of words--which has the power to destroy him ... another sentence exists, another series of words, which will heal the person. If you're lucky you will get the second; but you can be certain of getting the first: that is the way it works. On their own, without training, individuals know how to deal out the lethal sentence, but training is required to deal out the second.

--Chapter 5

Reality is that which when you stop believing in it, it doesn't go away.

--Chapter 5

In the center of an irrational universe governed by an irrational Mind stands rational man.

--Chapter 8

To fight the Empire is to be infected by its derangement. This is a paradox; whoever defeats a segment of the Empire becomes the Empire; it proliferates like a virus, imposing its form on its enemies. Thereby it becomes its enemies.

--Chapter 8

Death hides within every religion. And at any time it can flash forth--not with healing in its wings but with poison, with that which wounds.

--Chapter 11

God can be good and terrible--not in succession--but at the same time. This is why we seek a mediator between us and him; we approach him through the mediating priest and attenuate and enclose him through the sacraments. It is for our own safety: to trap him within confines which render him safe.

--Chapter 11

It is amazing that when someone else spouts the nonsense you yourself believe you can readily perceive it as nonsense.

--Chapter 13