Black Iron Prison
Ten Principles of Gnosticism
The A.I. voice
Palm Tree Garden
The black knight satellite. I'm not really sure what to make of this story. I've only seen the most sporadic mention of this thing on the occasional website. But man, as a long time fan of Philip K. Dick, the first time I heard about it my eyes sure went wide. Regardless of the truth of the situation, it's one hell of a tale.
The most cited report of the satellite comes from Disneyland of the Gods, by John Keel. He reports that in February 1960 the US detected an unknown object in polar orbit, a feat that neither they or the USSR had been able to accomplish. As if that wasn't enough, it apparently was several sizes larger than anything either country would have been able to get off the ground.
And then, the oddness began. HAM operators began to receive strange coded messages. One person in particular said he managed to decode one of the transmissions, and it corresponded to a star chart. A star chart which would have been plotted from earth 13,000 years ago, and focused on the Epsilon Bostes star system.
On September 3, 1960, seven months after the satellite was first detected by radar, a tracking camera at Grumman Aircraft Corporation's Long Island factory took a photograph of it. People on the ground had been occasionally seeing it for about two weeks at that point. Viewers would make it out as a red glowing object moving in an east-to-west orbit. Most satellites of the time, according to what little material I've been able to find on the black knight satellite, moved from west-to-east. It's speed was also about three times normal. A committee was formed to examine it, but nothing more was ever made public.
Three years later, Gordon Cooper was launched into space for a 22 orbit mission. On his final orbit, he reported seeing a glowing green shape ahead of his capsule, and heading in his direction. It's said that the Muchea tracking station, in Australia, which Cooper reported this too was also able to pick it up on radar traveling in an east-to-west orbit. This event was reported by NBC, but reporters were forbidden to ask Cooper about the event on his landing. The official explanation is that an electrical malfunction in the capsule had caused high levels of carbon dioxide, which induced hallucinations.
Creepy, cool, story to be sure. There's two things in particular which are of particular note to Philip K. Dick. The most obvious is the idea of a satellite orbiting the earth and sending coded communications to it. One of the theories Dick had for his experiences was that they had been triggered, or enhanced, by an extremely ancient and alien satellite. The initial 2-3-74 experience also began with a very similar color to the first sighting of the black knight, a reddish pinkish light beamed directly at him.
Phil also mentioned in his exegesis that he considered ten of his novels to be of particular importance, with the novel valis as the cipher to unlock their meaning. These ten books, the "meta novel", are Eye in the Sky, Time Out of Joint, The Man in the High Castle, The Game Players of Titan, Martian Time Slip, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, UBIK, A Maze of Death and of course VALIS. I think it's fair to include Radio Free Albemuth in there as well, which was written after his meta novel statement, and which is in many ways a retelling of VALIS. What's interesting here is that he wrote the first, Eye in the Sky, so soon before the black knight sighting. About three or four years before it was detected by radar. Well, if in fact it was ever there to be detected.
Relevant quotes from valis:
"The satellite," Fat said. "VALIS. Vast Active Living
Intel-ligence System. It fires information down to them?"
Relevant quotes from Radio Free Albemuth:
Since my contact came in most strangely between 3:00 and 4:00 A.M., I
realized that probably a booster satellite, of alien origin, orbited Earth,
a slave communications satellite that had been sent here thousands of
The new personality in me had not awakened from a sleep of two millennia;
it had, more accurately speaking, been printed out by the alien satellite,
impressed on me afresh from outside. It was an addition, not a substitution
in place of me but a kind of package identity based on the total knowledge
of the satellite. It was to raise me to the highest level possible in
my ability to cope. The satellite, itself linked to higher life forms,
was concerned with my capacity to live; it or they, the totality of them,
had seen me faltering under the oppression, and their response was reflexive.
It amounted to a rational attempt to give aid to whoever was in touch
with them, who was capable of assimilating their printout. I had been
selected for that reason alone. Their concern was universal. They would
have assisted anyone they could reach.
One odd point that Moyashka had noted which he could not account for
was the fact that the radio signals came only when the source was above
Earth's dark or night side; during the day the signals ceased. Moyashka
conjectured that the so-called Heaviside layer might be involved.
If the Russians did photograph the ETI satellite, the invader, they would find it old and pitted. I had been there thousands of years.
The satellite had passed from our world and, with it, the healing rays, like those of an invisible sun, felt by creatures but unseen and unacknowledged. The sun with healing in its wings.
Even if the stations in this local region or sector are all overshadowed
and don't light up any longer, it is a sight to remember. With this the
satellite presented us with its final insight into the nature of things:
synapses in a living brain. And the name we give to its functioning, its
awareness of itself and its many parts - ' She smiled at me. 'It's why
you saw the figure of Aphrodite. That's what holds all the trillions of
stations into harmony.'
Phildickian Gnosticism: The many religions of Philip K. Dick
John Emerson, November 14, 2005