Monday, December 13, 2010

The Man in The High Castle-A Review

The Man in the High CastleThe Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick

Cluck It Loud.  A Good Book Worth Reading.

Well this book is fully loaded; and my review for it has taken a long time.  Part of the reason for the long time, is the fear that I will not quit get the gist of the book, how do I summarize something that is so broad in its perspective.
The first time I saw Blade Runner, and then heard that it was an adaptation of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, I fell in love with Philip K. Dick's mind, and his imagined worlds. I felt "cool" watching it and wanted to walk into that world.

I have always been attracted to the foreign feel of new places.   The cantina in Star Wars, the hyper reality of Cool World, the funny world found in Tank Girl,  were places that I explored in my dreams. I participated in this world once in Israel, at the London Underground, with a few friends from Belgium. A story for another time perhaps!?

So all of these thoughts and more kept me from writing a review of a good book. But as it is said in the movie Risky Business, "Sometimes you got to say what the... hey."

In some ways the story is an easy go.  It takes place in Denver, and San Francisco; in a future reality of 1964 America, but a 1964 America that did not occur. This world is ruled by both Japan and Germany after their winning of World War II (bummer).  Denver is in the DMZ, the no man's land between two great powers.
What gets complicated is the premise of the story: "What would happen if...or why we see what we see when we see it?"  What is the power that shapes our reality?  What happens to the people that are caught between hither and tether, when trifles clutter up a landscape?  How does one get out of the flotsam and jetsam universe one is currently a participant in?

Philip K Dick's answer to these questions lies in the infrastructure of ones current reality.   If one understands the infrastructure then one is better equipped with dealing with the flow of reality. Thus Robert Childan attempts to hold onto hope through his American Artitistic Handcrafts an American antique business.   His creed is that antiques have power to mold reality.  He cherishes the former pre-war Americana.  The authentic value of the past anchors the reality of the near future.

"Art or something not life is long, stretching out endless, like concrete worms. (Dick 184)


The artifact's value is assessed by the historians, critics and curators of antiquities.  Alexander pope wrote of this valuable role in his essay on criticism in 1711;
Critic fanned the poet's fire,
 And taught the world with Reason to Admire. 
 Then criticism the muses Handmaid proved 
to Dress her charms, and make her more beloved.
 The Critic creates a community of enabled others to embrace the art.
The individual does not matter, as long as there are key players to play specific parts.  The parts and past actions are only successful by their effect on the future.  "What has happened here is justified by what happens later." or Alexander Pope said, "It self unseen, but in the effects remain."
Time itself is the only variable that is not affected by outside forces.Time is played out by it's own rhythm of uncontrollable variables.   The role of the artist, is to seize time, freeze it, and make a shrine to that moment in time.

The artist provides the public a way to pause and reflect on their experience.

 "And if one person finds his way-that means there is a way An artist provides a way.


Once the art is created the critic puts order to the art.Critics frame our world viewpoint.  Who/what is the good, the weird, the obscene, and the copied.   The holy, the vile and the diabolical are shaped by the words of a critic.   The critic/historian shapes how facts are used in the retelling of the stream of time.  History is merely a tool, a gun from the Civil War Era, a lighter in the pocket of an assassinated president.

Give this book to your favorite libertarian so they can reflect and write about today's American Experience.

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