They’re the start of a coming race.
Homo Sapiens have outgrown their use
All the strangers came today
And it looks as though they’re here to stay.
—David Bowie, “Oh! You Pretty Things”
Pop-music had always been an important theme for Philip K. Dick and his novels, especially later in his life. Linda Ronstadt (with whom he was a bit obsessed and wrote fan letters to) was a favorite of his, her “look” making its way into novels like The Divine Invasion as the musician “Linda Fox.” And the untimely death of John Lennon sets the stage for the somber Transmigration of Timothy Archer.
And then there is “Mother Goose” a.k.a. Eric Lampton. The character, from Dick’s 1981 novel VALIS, is described as a rock star “rated with Bowie and Zappa and Alice Cooper”—though he is clearly a stand-in for the first musician on that list. Androgynous, with an equally androgynous wife, Linda (of course “Linda”), it is revealed that they are both aliens from another planet who have a “divine child.”
Dick had seen the 1976 film The Man Who Fell To Earth, referenced it in his Exegesis, and clearly it had an impact on him—so much so that he synthesized the movie’s story and imagery with the growing cosmology of his own February/March 1974 epiphanies to create the meta-narrative VALIS.
From the Exegesis:
Re the Bowie film, and the little boy on the raft floating toward England; the divine child won’t be born, but rather smuggled in, like a cuckoo’s egg in a host nest, disguised as a—human? Terrestrial? Evading ‘Scotland Yard’—i.e., the authorities. Extraterrestrial? No. It has to do with time, and he can mix his world in and out with ours, like with a mixing board. Space and time both. But he is an invader—but God knows from where or when—but another planet. The future? And/or an alternate world?
What is so strange about the Bowie connection with VALIS is that around the same time Dick was still experiencing the “afterglow” of his “2-3-74” mystical experience, the musician was having some related esoteric situations and notions of his own.
Specifically, a viewing of Rosemary’s Baby in the mid-1970s reportedly sent Bowie into a state of paranoid terror that he himself would be kidnapped by occultists and be forced to sire a “devil baby” who might be then sacrificed. Which sounds, a little, like the situation the alien Eric Lampton found himself in—in terms of being the “father” (albeit second-hand, Joseph-style) of such a “divine” (or infernal) child. In the book VALIS, the baby is then murdered (sacrificed) by synth-pop music composer Brent Mini (a.k.a. Bowie collaborator Brian Eno).
Bowie was also heavily steeped in UFO and occult lore and he—much like Philip K. Dick—even believed he was “channeling” some of his material, or at the very least “not there” for the creation of some of it.
Of course…there might be a simpler explanation for both Bowie and Dick’s preoccupations during the mid-1970s. They were taking a lot of drugs.
Yet, they also both seemed to be “accessing” the same “storyline.” In fact…a lot of people, within a similar web of connections during those freaky Seventies years, did.
Was Bowie familiar with Dick’s story of “2-3-74” and the pink laser beam of light that allegedly struck the writer in the forehead, giving him a religious euphoria? Because that sure looks like what is happening to the singer in his 1984 music video, “Loving The Alien”:
Now let’s go back VALIS, with this sequence describing Eric Lampton’s movie of the same name:
Long shot. The Lamptons’ house below; camera is what they call “camera three.” The beam of energy fires at the house below. Quick cut to Eric Lampton; he jerks as if pierced. Holds his hands to his head, convulsing in agony. Tight shot of his face; his eyes explode. (The audience with us gasps, including me and Fat).
Different eyes replace the ones which exploded. Then, very slowly, his forehead slides open in the middle. A third eye becomes invisible, but it lacks a pupil; instead, it has a lateral lens.
Eric Lampton smiles.