What I happened upon in a psychedelic nightmare. A place that seemed like another world, it seemed to me that my room had been trasported to that place, for when I looked out the window, it was like nothing known on Earth: different scenery, different sky. The first time I ended up there, there were bars on my window—which was the first thing I noticed, my window on earth being conspicuously bar free. There also seemed to be a grill on the window, at different points, which makes one wonder about the fluidity of that “reality” as a thing to be perceived. If you want to see what kind of atmosphere I’m talking about, go fetch a copy of Hieronymous Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights and look in the third panel. I don’t know where the activity in the front is happening, but look in the far back, at the non-descript black building: I was inside there.
I also remember distinctly that there, in the dim red sky, somewhere above, there was some kind of Watcher. I don’t know what it was watching for, I don’t think. I once had it right on top of me, on one visit, and I was prevented from thinking that it was Satan, just like I was prevented from thinking that the Black Iron Prison was Hell. Philip K. Dick thought that the Prison was what the world actually looked like, in a substratum. There was an opposite to the Prison, he wrote, which he called the Palm Tree Garden (which I call the Oasis). But if the Prison is what reality looked like, why wouldn’t the Oasis be in there somewhere, in the upper strata? Paradise and Hell: we probably have the idea of them all wrong, as wrong as the ancients, who put Paradise in the sky and Hell in the ground.
If you ever see it, you’ll know it. You might not have had the words to call it properly by name, but you’d know it like a heart attack. Someone described it as the far future mixed with the ancient. Everything, all the buildings, the whole landscape, is black (hence the name). I remember looking out into the expanse the first time, and I don’t think it was a hallucination superimposed upon the buildings that existed in real life, I think I really noticed that: this black city is not where I was; I am somewhere else. Where the joins were at least on some of the architecture, it was as if black claws bound one corner shut, clasped the boundary between floors together. Evil, all of it. Except I wasn’t allowed to think that, either.
We who do see it, we can break free of it forever. Philip K. Dick was freed when Nixon resigned as President: this was the world freed from the Prison outside. I was freed the last time I ever saw it when I dropped acid, upon a short missive from secret Christians: the whisper of, “Walt Disney is God”: this was the world freed from the Prison inside. It might not be in grand gestures such as these, but as sure as there is a God who is love, you will find an escape from the Prison if ever you venture too far into the Dark Wood, to the city on the other side, where no sun ever shines, where the stars flee the dark red smoke.