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In Phillip K Dick's book Lies Inc., there exists a figure dubbed 'Abba'. Abba is a persistent source of truth not only for our protagonist, but also those around him. He speaks to the humans in the story, but it's not said how exactly this entity manifests. In Philip K. Dick's book Lies Inc., what is Abba? Does he represent something?

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It is hard to clarify the content of "Lies, Inc.". The novel starts off fairly normally, but then quickly descends into a confused world of mingled reality and illusion, involving police agencies beaming subliminal images into your mind, psychedelic drugs, paraworlds, hypnagogic experiences, and general musing about the illusion of reality. This is completely normal for a PKD novel, but "Lies, Inc." is particularly extreme, and has been called his "most inaccessible novel".

The first clue to the identity of Abba comes in the second chapter when a Lies Inc. computer accidentally sends information about a rat into the mind of the book's protagonist, Rachmael ben Applebaum, as he sleeps. When he awakes he contemplates seeing a psychiatrist because of the vivid dream he has had of being a rat.

Later in Freya Holms' office, Rachmael seems to suffer a visual hallucination:

[Freya's] voice faded out.

Rachmael ben Applebaum sat with a circle of friends around a superior person, very wise and ancient. They called him Abba, which meant Daddy. When Abba spoke the entire settlement listened, and as best they could the individuals committed to memory what Abba told them. Because what that ancient person told them had an absolute quality to it; Abba had not originated in the settlement, but knew things which no one else knew, and he guided them all.

This is the first appearance of Abba in the story. Dick interprets the meaning as "Daddy" which is more or less correct: it is a Biblical title of honor derived from Aramaic meaning "father".

So far Abba is just described as a wise, ancient presence. Later it becomes clearer that Abba is not human:

as he sat there, formulating his answer, he saw again the tender, intelligent shape of Abba; but Abba did not look human. A fur of darkness and complexity covered Abba and as the wise one spoke his voice seemed shrill and eerie.

and is actually a rat. His presence is a consequence of the accidental data transfer into Rachmael's sleeping mind at the start of the novel, "Remnants of the dream, Rachmael realized; coming back at me in my waking state".

Whether Abba is real - a genuine rat-deity put in contact with Rachmael's mind, or a gestalt rat intelligence - or if it is an illusion, or some consequence of different planes of reality, is probably impossible to say. Throughout the novel Dick repeatedly sets up and then undercuts explanations of what is happening.

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  • Hi @tuskiomi I see you've unaccepted my answer. Is there any aspect of it that you think is unsatisfactory, that I can alter? Commented Dec 12, 2021 at 12:16
  • that was a mis-click. my bad.
    – tuskiomi
    Commented Dec 14, 2021 at 3:17

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