The diagram accompanying this essay is the
typical representation of the Qabalistic Tree of life with, superimposed
upon it, the Phildickian referents from THE WORLD JONES MADE. In the essay I intend to
outline how Dick wrote THE WORLD JONES MADE using the Tree of Life as its schematic. The
essay itself begins in Kether, at the top of the diagram, in the Archetypal
World, then descends from right to left in the pattern known as the Lightning Bolt, until
we reach Malkuth and the Physical World at the bottom. Then it takes the
Middle Path and ends in the sphere of Tifereth:, enlightenment of the true self.
In the essay I hope to show that Dick made the Tree of Life bear fruit, taking the main character, Cussick, on a voyage to enlightenment. Somewhat like the Greek myth of Oysseus, or Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer.
The book is also a voyage to enlightenment for the reader. As the story unfolds Dick reveals the truth about the real world disguised in his fiction and when the reader has finished reading s/he is able to realise the similarity and become enlightened to the truth of this reality, created by others, in which we live today. This, I believe, was Dick's intention in THE WORLD JONES MADE. -- Barb
CLICK HERE FOR THE 'TREE OF LIFE' ILLUSTRATION FOR THIS ESSAY
Philip K. Dick was a master philosopher as well as a great writer and he used his philosophical insight to write THE WORLD JONES MADE. Using fiction, he analyzed the manner in which the individual mind perceives reality and he examined the experience of self consciousness by exploring the many dimensions of the psyche.
The structure of this book has the same pattern as the qabalistic 'Tree of Life'. Both are diagrams symbolizing the philosophical and psychological universe of mankind, and both explain with symbols the process of spiritual regeneration.
The basic theme of THE WORLD JONES MADE is spiritual rebirth, as symbolized by the fertile womb. The story itself demonstrates the creation and development of this new lifeform. Dick's original title for the book, before it was published as an ACE miniature in 1956, was Womb For Another. The emphasis of the 'womb' in the title hints that Dick wanted a focus on the womb metaphor which he used on different levels throughout the book.
The mood of the novel reveals a sense of hopelessness and meaninglessness among the characters similar to the sociological concept of alienation. This feeling of detatchment is felt by all the characters in various ways. Dick depicts the source of this alienation as the conflict between the prefabricated consciousness of a future society and the self-consciousness of the individual as experienced by his characters. With the plot and characters Dick explores the nature of this future society, revealing the fundamental composition of the conflict between rationalism and religion. He creates each sides' typical proponents, opponents and charismatic leaders as the characters of the story.
Philip K. Dick's style of writing takes the reader's mind into this alien situation and makes it real. Then, through the actions and reactions of the main characters, he leads the reader to question the legitimacy of this future prefab society. In doing this, he lets us see ourselves reflected in the lives of the characters. It's easy for us to relate to thier humanity and limitations. We realise that we are a lot like them. Then we begin to question the dominant ideologies of our own world.
In the overall examination of the book, we see that it is a metaphor of life based on the 'Tree of Life'. It is enlightening, prophetic and entertaining on metaphysical, philosophical and psychological levels.
The qabalistic 'Tree of Life' is many things, one of which is a diagram of the human psyche the symbols of which represent certain psychological traits. THE WORLD JONES MADE is a similar structure. It is a literary diagram of the human psyche and uses elements from our conscious universe as symbols to represent these same psychological traits.
In THE WORLD JONES MADE the Solar System and the surrounding space is used as the symbolic arena for the Dickian Tree of Life, with representations of the Ten Sephiroth and the Four Worlds molded into the story of a futuristic society. Each Sephira is represented by a character or a state of being, and each world has its own setting in the story -- with the exception of the Archetypal World which is unmanifest in both the Tree of Life and THE WORLD JONES MADE.
In the book our Solar System represents a physical manifestation of the ultimate extent of human conception and perception. Everything that occurs in the mind is represented within the limits of the Solar System. The Sun, planets and everything on Earth are symbols of the limiting cognitive processes of the mind. Beyond the Solar System lies the unknown, knowledge of which, like the space outside our immediate star system for the characters in the book, is beyond our capacity to experience. For us and for the characters in the book the Solar System is a womb.
Dick also uses the Solar System as a womb for the unknown alien's reproductive process. The spore and egg, drifting through space, eventually land on the planets. Some are fertilized, others dry up and die. When the growing embryo reaches maturity, the infant alien leaves the Solar System, expelled like the rejection of a baby from a mother's womb, never to return again. Dick is creating an image of our known universe as a womb, an alien womb.
The Tree of Life is often described as a womb for the regeneration of the spirit and god-consciousness. The alien in its three forms -- adult, spores (drifters) and egg -- match with the upper or Supernal Triad on the Tree of Life. The adult alien represents Kether, the sphere of God which exists outside of the Solar System, never manifesting in the book. It is outside the realm of human comprehension and represents the "hidden intelligence" of the qabalah. No ordinary man can fathom its essence. Even Jones, the visionary, did not know of the adult alien's existence until it was too late. When he finally became aware it had already sealed the Solar System off from the rest of the universe, leaving no hope of ever attaining its true nature. Like Kether, the adult alien is elusive, it resides in interstellar space (the Archetypal World) beyond the consciousness limited in forms. It is something the human mind suspects exists but does not comprehend. And to the adult alien, the Earthlings were just an annoying disease, a microscopic germ attacking its reproductive cells like a venereal disease.
Kether splits into two sephiroth that are symbolic of reproductive cells -- Binah (female) and Chokmah (male) -- and each half is incomplete untio it unites to produce the offspring, Daath (enlightenment). The three forms of the alien are symbolic of the first triad of the Tree of Life, the Supernal Triad, in that the unseen adult occupies Kether, the spores or drifters are in Chokmah, and the egg is in Binah. The princile of conciliation of the Supernal Triad is Daath, represented by the newborn alien which goes unmentioned in the novel (occupying as it does the implied sephira Daath, itself not represented on the Tree of Life).
As the adult alien reflects the qualities of Kether, the two alien reproductive cells have the characteristics of Chokmah (the spore) and Binah (the egg) which in this occult tradition are represented by phallic symbols and thought of as the roots of the Tree of Life. These two Sephiroth occupy the Creative World of the qabalah which is also called God-consciousness. Our minds can only attain a small glimpse of the nature of these two spehiroth. This is the closest we can get to God in our self-conscious existence. Chokmah and Binah represent the duality and polarity of exostence, the Taoist ying and yang.
At first the people of Earth were only aware of the drifters as harmless, lifeless creatures. They just floated down from space like some batwing kite to eventually dry up and die on Earth to no avail. They were an incomplete lifeform doomed to a cosmic meaninglessness, a life without a goal, impotent, serving no known purpose, drifting aimlessly in the cold darkness of space. This description of the aliens depicts 'alienation.' The drifters express the mood of the book and represent the way most of the characters in the book felt; a sort of apathy or emasculation. They represent the feeling of hopelessness which is 'alienation' and experienced by all in THE WORLD JONES MADE.
We begin the novel in a womblike, alien environment: the support system for the seven mutants. The atmosphere is simulated and designed to match that of Venus, for these mutated human beings were specifically bred for life on Venus; an experiment in colonization.
As soon as we enter this Venusian womb, we have entered the second triad of the Tree of Life, which is superconsciousness. This triad consists of Chesed, Geburah and Tiphereth. It is the place where the interaction of these three sephira and the Supernal Triad occur. This is the Formative World where the possibilities within the Supernal Triad are formed into ideas.
Chesed is the first sephira devolved from the Supernal Triad. It is numbered 'four' and is the foundation on which all further development is based. Chesed is the father of all form and also the deliverer of Mercy. In THE WORLD JONES MADE it is represented by Dr. Rafferty, the father of the mutants bred for Venus: the creator of hope for the human race. In the world of the novel he offers hope for mankind. his work to speed up evolution by creating the mutants enabled the possibility of escape to other worlds for the masses mired in their spoiled and over-populated world. Chesed, accordingly, is the sephira that makes it possible for us to attain God-consciousness and, spiritually, to escape to another world.
The mutants are in Geburah, the sephira where forms are accessed and adjusted to live in alignment with spiritual reality. They are the lifeforms created by Dr. Rafferty in Chesed, tenderly cultivated and genetically altered to live beyond the physical reality of Earth, prepared for a better life. There are seven of them, just as there are seven sephiroth below the Supernal Triad that make up the self-conscious mind. There is an eighth mutant in an incubator, implied on the Dickian Tree of Life like Daath in the qabalah. This eighth mutant is the promis of the new life, the promise of its actuality in another existence. This is the promise of Daath: an attainable new world. A major theme in this book.
The first scene of THE WORLD JONES MADE portrays the interaction that takes place in the second triad of the Tree of Life. Dr. Rafferty's compassion for humanity causes him to create new life. He brings into form beings who could be free from the limitations imposed by the Physical World. From thought he creates form.
So it is with the thought-forms of the Superconscience: they are free of the barriers of physical reality. The mutants symbolize these thought-forms while the Earth represents the physical reality. It's as if the mutants live on another plane of existence altogether. They can see the outside world, they know it exists, it has influence on their own shaky existence and they want to be a part of it. But they cannot live in it.
This is where Dick delves into the concept of alienation ingeniously through his characters as they express their feelings of detatchment and meaninglessness. All the characters in the book, even the masses, exhibit some form of alienation. From a Qabalist point of view this would be caused by being seperated from the Supernal Triad, the seperation of self-consciousness from God-consciousness. In the story the characters are alienate because they are either physically unable to live in the world, as with the mutants, or the societal ideologies at play are detatched from the inner worlds of the characters: the accepted reality of mass-consciousness is far removed from their own experience. The ideal spiritual being is repressed and unfullfilled: they feel meaningless and detatched.
Where the aliens (drifters, adult aliens) are alienated from the rest of consciousness due to a lack of human comprehension, the mutants are alienated physically. Dick describes with compassion the mutants' feelings of complete estrangement from the rest of humanity and their ned to escape from their womb. Sadly, these mutants literally could not live in the outside world, just as the alienated of our own society sit in their living rooms watching a simulated life on TV, waiting for the new world.
The principle of conciliation of the second triad is Venus, and it occupies the position of Tiphereth on the Tree of Life. This is where the mutants will go to live in freedom and harmony with nature. Tiphereth and Venus symbolise unification, the peaceful world which is the goal of humanity. Most people are not normally conscious of anything beyond this level. The mutants go there and are born from their womb on a decaying Earth into a beautiful, harmonious virgin planet. Normal human beings cannot go there unless they change their physical state or, like Cussick and his family, they create an artificial womb of their own and await a spiritual rebirth.
Tiphereth serves also as the level of the superconscience of the human mind -- of Cussick's mind. For the mutants Tiphereth symbolises Venus but for Cussick Tiphereth is symbolised by his son: the part of Cussick's life that is untouched by all the chaos of the world.
We leave the second triad of Chesed, Geburah and Tiphereth and enter the third triad of Hod, Netzach and Yesod. In this triad all the characters are symbolic of some psychological facet of the mind, particularly as experienced by Cussick, the protagonist. Netzach and Hod are his subconscious determinants where the play of logic and emotion decide his actions. In the book they are represented, in Netzach, by Nina, Cussick's wife, whose imagination, emotional sensitivity and love pull at Cussick's idealistic side. And, in Hod, Max Kaminski, Cussick's old mentor of Hoff's Relativism, with his rational, scientific mind, tugs at Cussick's conventional, conservative side. Together Nina and Kaminski represent Cussick's subconscious mind.
The realm of conscious thought occurs in Yesod and is Cussick himself: the experiencing individual, the protagonist. Yesod on the Tree of Life is the life of the mind for the physical body of Malkuth. It is through Cussick's consciousness that we understand the story.
Yesod is the last sephira in the Formative World. Ideas and urges, though directly operating on reality, have no actuality themselves. it is through Yesod that we reach Malkuth since Yesod is the conscious being.
Malkuth is the sephira where spiritual ideals are realised in physical forms. But these ideals are distorted like a reflection in a mirror distorts the true image. This distortion causes a conflict between the physical world and spiritual ideals. In the Physical World, social institutions place shakles on these ideals and hold them in forms which are always of the past, unable to do more than react to the now.
Dick represents the Physical World in the general setting of the story. Relativism and Jonesism are the physical manifestations of Hod and Netzach -- the conflict in action. All the characters who, above, symbolise these qabalistic ideas, have their reality here.
The world of the book is ruled by Hoff's Relativism; a form of rationalism. It is a police state, a distorted reflection of Hod into physical reality. But due to this overbalance toward the logical side of things; the repression of the physical manifestation of the imagination of Netzach, the world is collapsing. On the streets there's an ideological revolution.
The order of Hoff's Relativism is that everything must be scientifically proven for it to be real. The natural reaction to this is a social conflict as the long repressed imagination and emotions of the populace seek expression. But now there is a new factor: Jones. the ideological visionary and would-be Saviour who disproves the central tenet of Hoff's Relativism.
From the chaos of this conflict, Cussick, an undercover Fed Gov agent whose job is to seek out and arrest anyone who preaches an untrue doctrine, takes us back to the time when he first met Jones. To a nightmarish circus of side-show mutants and radiation freaks. He finds Jones in a booth off by himself on the fringes of the circus. Jones is a fortune-teller, proclaiming to foretell the future -- a blatant flaunter of the law which prohibits fortune-telling. Immediately Cussick had zeroed in to investigate and discovers that Jones can only prophecy one year into the future and only on things regarding his own experience. But he predicts that within a few months alien drifters will be landing on Earth.
Cussick's bosses laugh at him when he tells them of his discovery of Jones. A mere fortune-teller, they sneer. Except that everything that Jones predicted came true. The Fed Gov realised that Jones had challenged the system of Relativism -- and won.
It is in this second chapter of the book that we meet the character of Jones. A bitter sideshow freak, another lost soul tormented by an abnormality that makes his life a living hell. For Jones lives his life one year in the future all the time: unlike everybody else who lives in the past due to the split second it takes to register impulses to the brain. Jones lived in the future, going beyond the restrictions of physical matter, beyond time and space. In qabalistic terms he is in the sephira of Daath. He transcended the lower sephiroth to beyond Tiphereth and finds himself in Daath where his vision ultimately foundered. Here is where he confronted God, as symbolised by the aliens. Jones failed because he could not comprehend the ultimate nature of the alien intelligence. Although he got a glimpse of it, he could not reach beyond the limits of his perception, he could not fathom beyond the limits of the Solar System. He was still bound by his own limitations: the downfall of many a mystic.
Yet Jones is a classic tragic hero. His downfall was not his own fault. he had put complete faith in his vision and accepted his destiny as infallible. He is a reluctant hero who only fumbled into failure. Even with his extra ability he could not leap the abyss that seperates Daath from the Supernal Triad. His information was incomplete. His perception was wrong. He could not cut free from the Formative World and its materialistic articulations. Could not break out of the egocentric womb of the superconscience into a universal consciousness where the aliens are transformed from threatening entities into something requiring a completely different apprehension.
On closer examination we realise that Jones' failure was also due to his fear of God -- or the aliens. In Daath, one step from Kether, he stopped and became afraid. He feared the drifters and campaigned against them. he turned from God, could not relinquish his firmly held vision nor realise that it might be warped. Jones reached the brink of spiritual evolution then destroyed himself. He became a fanatic, a common occurance in Daath and often warned against by the qabalists.
And so it is that his grand vision, his special ability, lost its magic and became just another version of the status quo, reflected in the physical world by the agelong struggle of ideologies. Instead of seeking to find a balance between Netzach and Hod and creating a new world, he took over the existing structure of the Police State and made it his own.
To the other characters in the book both systems were false realities. Neither reflected their spiritual ideals nor allowed for their own enlightenment. Repressed as they were they yearned for a life in Tiphereth, the paradise world where all would be harmony and unity. And although they quickly grasped at Jones' superseding vision, in the end they were dissappointed. Neither Hoff's Relativism nor Jonesism addressed their needs.
But with Jones the people had someone to believe in, someone to lead them. An organized religion was erected around Jones. Dick clearly points out that the people only traded one false ideology for another. The Police State structure would continue, had to continue to retain power and maintain order in a bureaucratic state. Instead of living in a world made by Fed Gov Relativism, they lived in a world Jones made literally. He had the power to know the future so he became the prophet king. The only problem was that it was his future. When he was a nobody on the circus circuit his future had little effect on the world. Then he was made a leader of the people and he began to create reality through his own perception. his power was absolute. The people thought him infallible and did not question the burning of the drifters The parallels between Christianity and Jonesism are obvious. Christianity itself is much based on prophecy, particularly the Doomsday Prophecy: a theology rooted in the fear of the destruction of the world. Jonesism was fueled by the fear that the aliens would invade and destroy the world. Christ was a prophet. Jones was a prophet. His whole rise to power was due to his prophetic ability. Christianity was the spurring force for the Crusades, Manifest Destiny and Holy Wars. Jones had his crusade against the drifters and, like Christ, became a martyr to his cause. It seems Philip K. Dick made them similar to point out that religions can become corrupted and misinterpreted. They may appear infallible but they are subject to error.
Dick questions the accepted reality of mass consciousness and he examines the spirituality of man. He analyses every aspect of the spiritual, religious and psychological part of our being. He explores the personal conception of perceived reality -- the Idios Kosmos as he would later call it -- the unique and subjective aspect of our existence which is just as real as the objective, structured environment outside ourselves. And when he is finished we find ourselves at the end of the book in Daath. Enlightened. In essence, Dick has taken us through the Tree of Life from Kether down to Malkuth in his construction of Jones' world and back up again with the lives of Jones and the other characters. At the end of the book Cussick finds himself in Tiphereth on Venus, creating his own environment and preparing for rebirth. He symbolises our conscious mind which has perceived a new perspective on reality. And the promise of a new life, a regeneration, an enlightenment has been fulfilled. We are now the wiser for having read the book.
Interestingly enough, this book is truly prophetic: the maniac religious cult figure, Jones, who built a world revolving around himself, turned up about twenty years later in the jungles of South America. At a place called 'Jonestown' in Guyana this charismatic figure, along with hundreds of his followers, committed mass suicide by drinking grape cyanid Kool-Aid.
Dick could even be credited as possibly the first person to use the phrase "new world order" because this is the term he used to describe Jones' 'Crisis Government.":
"The remaining half hour had passed. Jones was in office. The day
of the Crisis Government, the new world order, had begun." (p132 BART)
All in all, THE WORLD JONES MADE is a complicated book. It's mapping onto the qabalistic Tree of Life as developed above seems quite precise. Close enough to make one wonder if Dick was a student of this ancient and esoteric theology and science and actually used it to plan out his novel, much as he later used the I Ching to plot THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE and, closer to home, much as he used Von Neumann's Game Theory to write SOLAR LOTTERY. We do know that he read widely in such areas and was well-versed in neo-Platonic theory. So, he could hardly have missed the qabalah.
To the BIBLIOGRAPHY.