VALIS stands for vast active living intelligence system. it is also a trigger to my crazy. i am a perfect breeding ground for it: i read a lot of gnostic texts in university, and struggled against tipping points when i read the book within franny and zooey "the way of the pilgrim" and when i saw mike leigh's film, "naked" and it made me think many crazy things, like chernobyl means wormwood, and the disaster was the third trumpet.
when i first read VALIS, i embraced it. i could feel it insinuating itself into how i thought; my regular, relatively logical self slipping into the hub in my mind where reason and faith collide, bend back and forth in their struggle to exist in my susceptible brain. and every subsequent complete or near-attempt to read it is the same, i start to slip, and think i cannot accept but neither can i live without, believing in something very like VALIS. the last few times i've tried to re-read it, i've stopped reading. i feel its serpentine, and usually somebody who knows better says, "why are you reading that again? that book makes you crazy!" and i realize they're right, and i'm better off not going down this road again.
and yet for all that, remembering VALIS makes me happy. from a safe distance, and attempted atheism, i can recall i enjoyed being horselover fat talking to friends about pre-socratics and gnosticism, death and life, coincidence and fate, about miracles in pink lights, and magical-pseudo david bowie, the man who fell to earth. if you're somebody who can read about these things without succumbing to them, i heartily recommend this book. if you find them crazy-making, consider this a warning.
greg's review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/848900 actually helped me figure out how to articulate this. thanks, greg!