Philip K. Dick on dreams

Science fiction novelist Philip K. Dick wrote many letters to Claudia Bush; a woman who, due to a thesis she was writing, had chosen to initiate contact with the author as he was the subject of her paper. Below is one of the letters he wrote. In it, Dick tells of a recurring dream he experienced for months in which a mysterious book made a seemingly important appearance, then goes on to conclude the letter with an amusing postscript. Interestingly, the letter was written just 5 months after Dick experienced the life-changing visions he subsequently documented in Exegesis.

Transcript follows.


July 5, 1974

Dear Claudia,

Since I last wrote you (sending on the 7 page letter to Peter Fitting plus the 2 page letter to you) I have continued to have the same dream again and again which I mentioned: a vast and important book held up before me which I should read. Yesterday, for example, since Tessa and Christopher had gone off on a picnic, I took several naps and had four dreams in which printed matter appeared, two of them involving books.

For three months, virtually every night, I’ve had these dreams involving written material. And within the last few days it became obvious that a specific book was indicated. That the ultimate purpose of these dreams was to call my attention to an actual book somewhere in the real world, which I was to find, then take down and read.

The first dream on July 4 was much more explicit than any before; I took down my copy of Robert Heinlein’s I WILL FEAR NO EVIL, a large blue hardback U.K. edition, for two men to look at. Both men said this was not a book (or the book) they were interested in. However, it was clear that the book wanted was large and blue and hardback.

In a dream a month ago I managed to see part of the title; it ended with the word “Grove.” At the time I thought it might be Proust’s WITHIN A BUDDING GROVE, but it was not; however, there was a long word similar to “Budding” before “Grove.”

So I knew by the first part of the day yesterday that I was looking for a large blue hardback book –very large and long, according to some dreams, endlessly long, in fact– with the final word of the title being “Grove” and a word before it like “Budding.”

In the last of the four dreams yesterday I caught sight of the copyright date on the book and another look at the typestyle. It was dated either 1966 or possibly 1968 (the latter proved to be the case). So I began studying all the books in my library which might fit these qualifications. I had the keen intuition that when I at last found it I would have in my hands a mystic or occult or religious book of wisdom which would be a doorway to the absolute reality behind the whole universe.

Of course the possibility existed that I didn’t have the book in my library, that I would have to go out and buy it. In several dreams I was in a bookstore doing just that. One time the book was help open before me with its pages singed by fire on all sides. By that I took it to be an extremely sacred book, perhaps the one seen in the Book of Daniel.

Anyhow today I looked all day around the house, since Tessa has been sick with a sunburn, and all at once I found the book. The three month search is at last over.

As soon as I took down the volume I knew it was to be the right one. I had seen it again and again, with ever increasing clarity, until it could not be mistaken.

The book is called THE SHADOW OF BLOOMING GROVE, hardback and blue, running just under 700 huge long pages of tiny type. It was published in 1968. It is the dullest book in the world; I tried to read it when the Book Find Book Club sent it to me but couldn’t.

It is a biography of Warren G. Harding.


(Signed, ‘Phil’)

Phil Dick

P.S. This is on a level, and it goes to show you that you should never take your dreams too seriously. Or else it shows that the unconscious or the universe or God or whatever can put you on. A three-month gag. (If you want to read the book I’ll mail it to you. Postage should be enormous. You got three years ahead in which you have nothing planned?)