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- The Transmigration Of Timothy Archer (1982)
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Categories : American novels Novels by Philip K. Hidden categories: CS1 maint: Archived copy as title. Namespaces Article Talk. Views Read Edit View history. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The Transmigration of Timothy Archer , please sign up. An Episcopal priest I once knew game me this book and told me it was based on the strange case of Bishop Pike. PKD was friends with Pike. Does it seem to fit?
Eric Stodolnik First of all, theres no question about it. Timothy Archer is definitely based on James Pike. Second of all, PKD writing on speed isn't a rumor See 1 question about The Transmigration of Timothy Archer…. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Jan 07, Lyn rated it really liked it. My first thoughts about The Transmigration of Timothy Archer was what a terrible shame, what a great loss that Philip K.
Dick died so young. His voice had matured in the 80s but his imagination and his speculative genius was still very much intact and vibrant as in the 50s. My second thought was and I have wondered this same thought after reading other books by him why in the world was he not more popular in his own time. He was ahead of his time, way ahead of his time.
Dick had asked many of the same questions and had arrived at far more insightful and artistic conclusions. Of course, sadly, while Brown has basked in comet-like literary and financial success, Dick died after years in poverty just as the world at large was becoming ready for him, just as another visionary genius was about to raise the curtain on the world Phil had made. This is not so much pure science fiction as the more nebulous, but more quantitatively accurate term for PKDs work — speculative fiction. This has all the great themes of his canon: imagination, speculation, theology, mythology, mysticism, psychology, philosophy, references to classical music and art, German enlightenment, mental illness, drug use and yes, even an appliance repairman.
Dick fills this narrative with as much irony and paradox as his creative mind could muster. The narration by Angel Archer and the dialogue between Angel and Tim becomes a vehicle whereby Philip can explore the tangents where his world and our world intersect. This is about life and death and beyond. View all 8 comments. In early September , the Rt Rev. James A Pike, fifth Bishop of California, got lost in the middle of the Judaean Desert, fell into a canyon, and died of exposure.
It was a dramatic end to a dramatic life: Pike had been one of the first celebrity bishops, and had led calls for female ordination, spoken up for LGBT acceptance, and marched to Selma with Martin Luther King. Before his death, Pike had been in a long-term, secret relationship with his secretary, and had even officiated at the wedding of her stepdaughter.
The secretary's stepdaughter was called Nancy Hackett, and her marriage was to the writer Philip K Dick. This is Dick's novelisation of the spiritual journey his sort-of-father-in-law went on — the bishop renamed, here, to Timothy Archer but otherwise by all accounts faithfully portrayed. In this version, though, Dick himself is replaced by a female narrator, Angel Archer, who is married to the bishop's son and who has to endure the deaths of, in turn, her husband, her best friend, and finally the bishop himself, at the end of his long quest for spiritual enlightenment.
So much about this book seemed almost miraculous to me, especially in the context of Dick's career: its female protagonist, its real-world setting, and most of all its amused, rational worldview. As the last novel he finished, it raises tantalising questions about the kind of books Dick might have gone on to write — if he'd had the chance.
Death hangs over the world depicted in the novel, and it hangs over the novel itself too. Mind you, a lot of these elements almost didn't fall into place. When Dick first came up with the idea for this book, he conceived of it as another science fiction novel, involving CIA plots and alien invasion. Fellow SF author Norman Spinrad convinced him or so Spinrad claims to drop all the paraphernalia and just publish it as a piece of straight fiction.
It therefore has this wonderfully grounded, contemporary quality which is apparent from the opening lines: Barefoot conducts his seminars on his houseboat in Sausalito. It costs a hundred dollars to find out why we are on this Earth. You also get a sandwich, but I wasn't hungry that day. John Lennon had just been killed and I think I know why we are on this Earth; it's to find out that what you love the most will be taken away from you, probably due to an error in high places rather than by design.
She's Dick's first decent female character since Juliana Frink all the way back in Man in the High Castle at the start of his career, and he had evidently gone through something of a realisation about this issue. Apart from anything else, she's funny, which is something that Dick doesn't usually do very well. That's important in a book built round a series of tragic deaths, and it helps create the novel's tone of wry scepticism.
After VALIS and The Divine Invasion , scepticism is the last thing I'd been expecting — every time Bishop Archer became convinced of another crazy theory about life after death or the Zadokites, I kept waiting for one of Dick's dei ex machina to reveal that, ta-da, he was absolutely right. But it never happens. Thanks to these things, Angel at the end of the book sees herself as gradually recovering from her losses, a lone survivor from a group that had been unfairly struck down: A spectator to the destruction of my friends, I said to myself; one who records on a notepad the names of those who will die, and who did not manage to save any of them, not even one.
And this is how Dick saw himself — unaware that he wouldn't be a lone survivor for very long. The painful thing about Timothy Archer is how confidently it suggests that rumours of Dick's insanity were premature — but it came almost too late to matter. You read passages like the one above with a shock of realisation: by the time they were published, he would already be dead. View all 5 comments. Mar 25, Bradley rated it it was amazing Shelves: traditional-fiction , sci-fi , shelf , psychology.
This is a re-read for me and perhaps not exactly my favorite of his last and greatest sequence of linked novels that began with VALIS, but it is still profound and beautiful. Truly, it is a very good book, but it stands as both a major departure from PKD's normal fiction. That's to say, it's a novel that explores all the same themes that he's is known for, but he does it in a very firmly grounded and mainstream way that very much does NOT touch upon his more traditional SF style.
Suicide, madness, This is a re-read for me and perhaps not exactly my favorite of his last and greatest sequence of linked novels that began with VALIS, but it is still profound and beautiful. Suicide, madness, drug use, heavy intellectualism comes right to the fore Sound simple? Well, grief isn't simple and Tim's life and intellect was pretty fantastic and the impact he had upon everyone was pretty profound. His struggles with faith and his eventually giving up the cloth and going to great lengths, intellectual or otherwise, to discover the real truth about Jesus, has long term effects on everyone.
That's not to say there isn't a lot of really strange things happening here, however, but they're all based on reality and scholarship and the deepest quest for meaning that anyone can or ought to strive. What if Christianity was a mushroom cult, that systematic drug use and hallucinations WAS the body of Christ? That all the early Christians were, after all, drug pushers? I love it. It's even based on some really impressive scholarship. But beyond that, there's also the idea that this mushroom also opens our minds to see the truth of reality and in so doing, allows us to link-in with the system of the universe and carry on past death for real.
So, blithe and humorous assumptions aside, this was the real aspect of faith and the promise Even so, my takeaway from this book, with this topic, is only a single feature in a very rich tapestry of characterizations, explorations, and fundamental human experience. Don't take my word for it. I know I was. And now I really can't wait to pick up Radio Free Albemuth again!
It, perhaps more than all the rest, is the capstone of all these ideas and it is a firm adventure in revolution and science fiction greatness as well! All the ideas and themes come back in full force. What a fantastic storyteller! Aug 27, Darwin8u rated it really liked it Shelves: scifi , fiction , , american. Dick, The Transmigration of Timothy Archer Transmigration of Timothy Archer was brilliant in parts, very engaging, but there were also pieces that just didn't quite fit. I'm willing to give PKD a lot of credit for attempting, so late in his life, a 'mainstream novel'.
Ultimately, however, I couldn't quite swallow the whole book oh me of little faith. I'm not sure if it was a dissatisfaction with it not living up to my expectation s , or having too much of the novel actually exist there AND me just wanting more. I think part of it was Dick set the reader up. He wanted to yank the reader left, and then yank the reader right, then trip the reader, so we can see what it is like to live in his head as he is trying to make sense of his own mortality and faith.
For me, the structural and style differences in these books allowed PKD creative room to explore his big religious themes: God, faith, salvation, love, fate, compassion, the search for identity, knowledge, etc, from as many sides and angles as possible. Bishop Archer describes the book's central quandary when he says: "My point," Tim said, "is that if the Logia predate Jesus by two hundred years, then the Gospels are suspect, we have no evidence that Jesus was God, very God, God incarnate, and therefore the basis of our religion is gone.
Jesus simply becomes a teacher representing a particular Jewish sect that ate and drank some kind of — well, whatever it was, the anokhi, and it made them immortal. The Zadokites drank the broth blood and ate the bread body. Thus, Dick essentially turned early Christianity into a secret mushroom cult.
The Transmigration Of Timothy Archer (1982)
So, in this novel Jesus and his apostles becomes dope dealers and smugglers. Throw into this reincarnation, mysticism, drugs, a ton of 70s music, cars, Berkeley, etc. I'm still trying to decide what he really wanted to do, and what he actually ended up doing to me. View 2 comments. Nov 24, Stuart rated it liked it Shelves: humanistic-sf , literature , religion , counter-culture. Sadly, these were the final novels that PDK wrote before his death in The Divine Invasion is a complex retelling of the second coming of Christ to an Earth dominated by the fallen angel Belial.
Otherwise, you may be completely lost. The book delves into despair and suicide, questions religious faith, and shows the damage caused to loved ones who try to save troubled souls. The Bishop is a highly-educated former lawyer, a Renaissance man who challenges many key Catholic doctrines, questions segregation, favors the ordaining of women, enjoys debates on controversial topics, reads Latin and Greek, and is a well-known public figure due to frequent public appearances.
In fact, PKD based this character very closely on the real life of James Pike, the Episcopalian Bishop of California from , whose story very closely resembles that of Timothy Archer. Angel Archer initially works at a small law office in Berkeley run by two political activists who represents drug pushers. She pays the bills since Jeff cannot, and eventually becomes manager of a Berkeley record store, something PKD did in real life.
But unknown to Angel, Tim and Kirsten begin an affair as well. When she confronts the Bishop about it, he easily deflects her accusations with his legal skills, pointing out that he himself is not married and Kirsten is a single mother, so they are not adulterers.
As time goes on, he begins to suffer from depression and signs of madness. Eventually he commits suicide, causing intense feelings of guilt in Tim and Angel. Subsequently, Kirsten develops cancer and starts taking barbiturates for the pain. She gets increasingly hostile and paranoid, suspecting Angel and Tim having an affair behind her back, and becomes very bitter and angry at life. Eventually Kirsten kills herself with an overdose of barbiturates. They struggle to understand why their loved ones chose to take their own lives and why they could not prevent it.
He is determined to go there himself to investigate these claims, and goes out into the Judean desert to recreate the experience of Jesus wandering in the wilderness. Alone and disoriented, he falls to his death and is not discovered for days. Saddled with tragedy after tragedy, Angel Archer seeks spiritual help from a guru named Edgar Lightfoot, whose teaching focus on Zen Buddhism as a form of psychotherapy and healing.
The book ends on this ambiguous note. Despite the painful and depressing subject matter, I felt it was a very courageous attempt to search for the reasons behind madness, despair, suicide, religious faith, and whether there is anything that can be done to prevent such tragedies.
The sense of inevitability in the characters runs deep, and yet avoids cheap sentimentality. As you might expect, he does not arrive at a life-affirming realization at the end, but he has taken the readers for quite a ride. This book in not really SF or fantasy at all, and would not likely appeal to many genre readers, but for those PKD fans intent on knowing his final thoughts on life, it is an important work and well worth reading.
View all 7 comments. Some notes upon finishing the book. He had something to get out about life in general, and his experience with Bishop James Pike in particular, and this is it, a thing in itself. There is nothing here that requires the kind of suspension of disbelief demanded by genre SF. All is derived from conventional Some notes upon finishing the book. All is derived from conventional religious and cultural discussions and equally conventional material about the paranormal mediums, their influence and authenticity and post mortem channeling with some fictionalized modern archeology bearing on the sources of Christian thought.
There is no endorsement of or necessity for belief in the paranormal here, all such elements are left uncertain with different characters holding and changing different and conventional views. That is only to say that it is not really a part of the flow of immediately prior P. The development of Angel Archer as first person narrator and the places the narrative takes her are sufficient and excellent without the undue strain of integrating it with any of the preceding works.
There is one really unconventional idea, that an origin of the Eucharist, dating back to BC, may have involved a psychotropic mushroom prepared as both food and drink. That idea like many others plays a part but does not become a crucial element itself, nor is it entirely settled by the end, nor does settling it matter. One may use that idea to argue a link to A Scanner Darkly , for example, but does that accomplish much?
In the absence of a real speculative dystopian setting, what of it? Dick does a masterful job of integrating his usual themes without resorting to anything fantastic. One Dick thread that appears in this book is very ingeniously deployed.
In the genre works e. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and Impostor we often find the question of what distinguishes humans from very sophisticated machines. In this non-genre setting, the narrator discusses this in regard to herself, if after all the losses suffered she has been reduced to a machine, the humanity having been ground out of her by events.
A machine in a sense found in philosophy or spiritual works not a literal mechanism, however sentient or possessed by a sense of identity, as in a genre work. If there is one Dick trademark that is really absent in this story is the background of a dystopia. Our actual world, set at the time of John Lennon's murder, is dystopia enough for this story. It does not stray from this realistic setting nor does it posit any speculative alternative history from it. Dick one of the interviewees expressed relief at reading this book saying: "At least, Phil didn't die insane" or words to that effect.
With that assessment I completely agree, this book is literature not genre and never actually goes off into psi-psycho-shifting reality territory but is well grounded in reality taking philosophical mystery, traditional questions of religious faith and human error into account. It also highlights the real tragedy of his being struck down as he was in the midst of what was clearly the height of his powers as a writer that might have gone yet higher.
That title comes from a southern expression meaning dazed and confused, apparently owls can only function well at night and will fly erratically and even injure themselves in day time. The interviews cited above did not give me any specific idea what additional layers of meaning he meant to add to the phrase, only that he like it enough to use it. He did outline a very interesting idea of aliens that developed in a world where speech and hearing would not evolve although I disagree with the idea they do not have words at all and might experience human auditory events as extrasensory perception or revelation, and would use technology to experience these things via a human host.
That sort of premise does require the usual suspension of disbelief of SF genre work. Whether the S means "Science", or Ellison's "Speculative".