The final Presidential Debate of the 2020 election season, the last showdown between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, was the terminal and ultimate piece of evidence for the theory that the year 2016 did not come to an end but in fact extended its lease into 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020. The spectre of 2016 doesn’t haunt the United States of America; it has possessed it like a malevolent spirit. 

In Phillip K. Dick’s wonderful and criminally undervalued novel VALIS the phrase “The Empire Never Ended” is repeated over and over as the protagonist (Phil K. Dick himself under the eventually-discarded pseudonym “Horselover Fat”) slowly learns that the Roman Empire still exists and flourishes today, that in fact he—as well as you and me and everyone else—are actually living in 70 BCE but with the illusion of time having passed laid over reality like a blanket. A Gnostic demi-urge was responsible for the illusion that time has passed since the first century BCE, but that illusion was beginning to fade as a friendly Vast Active Living Intelligence System was reasserting itself, thus causing Dick’s visions of a first-century Roman Empire superimposed over his own reality. 

Phillip K. Dick was a

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