”Yesterday---sensible, clearheaded, right-thinking---I decided I must accept that my part in this story was over. But my better angels lost again, defeated by drink, by the person I am when I drink. Drunk Rachel sees no consequences, she is either excessively expansive and optimistic or wrapped up in hate. She has no past, no future. She exists purely in the moment. Drunk Rachel...lies.”
There are certainly worse ways to spend your day than riding an S stock train into London.
Rachel rides the train into London every day to keep up the pretense that she has a job. The truth is she lost her job months ago when she showed up to work inebriated, not just buzzed or mildly intoxicated, but sloppy drunk. She can’t exactly put her finger on when she first started to drink too much. It was around the time when she was trying to get pregnant with her now ex-husband Tom.
He impregnated his mistress instead.
”The dagger in my heart twists, round and round and round.”
”Since the Industrial Revolution, we’ve treated our world like it was a hotel room and we were rock stars. But we aren’t rock stars. In the scheme of evolutionary forces, we are a weak, fragile species. Our genome is corruptible, and we so abused this planet that we ultimately corrupted that precious DNA blueprint that makes us human.”
Ethan Burke was sent to Wayward Pines, Idaho, to find two missing secret service agents. One of them was his old partner and for a brief time his lover. Going after Kate does complicate things, putting more stress on his fragile relationship with his wife Theresa and his son Ben. Enroute he is in a “car accident” which kills the agent that was sent with him and lands him in the hospital.
He has memory issues.
“You know me. Guys like me come a dime a dozen. No fire. No backbone. Dead weight waiting to be pulled around and taken to places where we want to go but can't go alone. Because we're afraid to go alone. Because we're afraid to be alone. Because we can't face people and we can't talk to people. Because we don't know how. Because we can't handle life and don't know the first thing about taking a bite out of life. Because we're afraid and we don't know what we're afraid of and still we're afraid. Guys like me.”
It is hard to stack time for a murder that you did commit, but how about doing the time for one that you didn’t?
It is death on the LONG installment plan.
“They want to be the agents, not the victims, of history. They identify with God's power and believe they are godlike. That is their basic madness. They are overcome by some archtype; their egos have expanded psychotically so that they cannot tell where they begin and the godhead leaves off. It is not hubris, not pride; it is inflation of the ego to its ultimate — confusion between him who worships and that which is worshiped. Man has not eaten God; God has eaten man.”
If Franklin Delano Roosevelt had been assassinated in 1934 instead of dying of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1945, what would the world look like? Do our lives, our futures, hang on the shoulders of one man? The New Deal that gave Roosevelt so much power, so much influence with the American public, would not have been possible if presented by a different man, a less sure man, a man more willing to make deals to pass the legislation even if it guts the intent of the program. The American people have probably never trusted a politician as much as they trusted FDR. So if we remove him from history during those critical years in the 1940s when the world went mad, what would happen?
Philip K. Dick is going to tell you.
The Pacific States form a new country called The Pacific States of America and are controlled by Imperial Japan. A Rocky Mountain States is formed as a buffer between The Reich Controlled East Coast of America and the PSA. Europe is under the management of the Reich. The Soviets were completely destroyed by the Reich, and most were exterminated. A cold war has sprung up between the two remaining superpowers: the Japanese and the Reich. Adolf Hitler has descended into madness…batshit crazy madness... not the garden variety I want to rule the world madness.
”Old Adolf, supposed to be in a sanitarium somewhere, living out his life of senile paresis. Syphilis of the brain, dating back to his poor days as a bum in Vienna...long black coat, dirty underwear, flophouses.”
There is this interesting film called Max starring John Cusack from 2002 that was directed by Menno Meyjes. It discusses the possibility of what would have happened if Hitler had been accepted as an artist. Would he have channeled his anger into something more edifying than world destruction? I know that others, besides myself, must have watched that film, but they seem to be few and far between.
Noah Taylor plays the young, frustrated Hitler.
Martin Bormann has been in charge of the Reich, but with his death a power struggle has broken out between Joseph Goebbels, Reinhard Heydrich, and Hermann Göring for the ultimate leadership. The thought of those men surviving the war gives me a chill. Hitler may have brought the vision, but these were the men who implemented it.
Robert Childan owns an Americana antique business on Montgomery Street in San Francisco. The Japanese are avid collectors of old American gadgets, comic books, and toys. He used to run a bookstore, but found that dealing in Americana was much more profitable. He isn’t an expert, which as the story unfolds, creates some issues for him. People don’t mind paying exorbitant prices as long as what they buy is legitimate. He meets a young progressive Japanese couple who want to discuss a future based on the book by Hawthorne Abendsen called The Grasshopper Lies Heavy which presents an alternative reality where the Axis lost and the Allies won. It is still different from our present day, but certainly more recognizable than the dystopia of The Man in the High Castle.
Philip K. Dick is having a bit of fun writing an alternative reality which includes a novel about alternative reality.
The young couple are very disappointed to learn that Childan has not read the book. They assumed that any “American” would want to read this book. They were also disappointed that Childan, when pressed for his own philosophical take on this life, mouths the platitudes of the controlling governments because he thinks that is what his potential clients want to hear. I expected more from one of my own kind, a retired bookseller, but in his defense he doesn’t want unwarranted attention. He doesn’t want change as much as he wants to be safe. “What they do not comprehend is man’s helplessness. I am weak, small, of no consequence to the universe. It does not notice me; I live on unseen. But why is that bad? Isn’t it better that way? Whom the gods notice they destroy. Be small . . . and you will escape the jealousy of the great.”
Mokkei Tiger from the 13th Century
Childan does get a glimmer of a lost past that might be reclaimed by the future when he holds the Frank Frink jewelry collection in his hands. Frink has recently left his work of employment, where he made replica guns from America’s past (for those Japanese collectors), to start his own business designing and creating original jewelry. To Childan the jewelry is much more than just pretty bobbles to adorn women’s throats, fingers, and wrists. It represents the American ingenuity that used to determine the fashions, trends, and innovations that led the world.
Meanwhile, Frink’s ex-wife, who lives in the RMS, has taken up with a truck driver who is not who he says he is. He has an agenda involving The Man in the High Castle. The man, Abendsen, who has taken the world by storm with his book depicting a different outcome from the war.
The I Ching plays a pivotal role as characters use I Ching to make decisions. Dick also used the I Ching to determine the twists of the plot as he was writing it.
Having difficulty making decisions? Do you find that most of the time you make poor decisions? Turn your life over to the I Ching. Your future will no longer be your fault.
This book convinced me of the viability of this alternative reality. I certainly would have read more about this world that Dick created. The ending is open because Dick had always planned to write a sequel, but he couldn’t progress on the second book because he couldn’t stand the thought of going back and reading about Nazis. I’m in the same boat recently with all the history channels that I normally watch suddenly becoming obsessed with everything Third Reich. This is disturbing to me because programming is based off viewership, and obviously they have determined that people are tuning in to watch Nazi documentaries more than other much more fascinating time periods of world history. *Sigh* I don’t know what that means!
Amazon has recently filmed the pilot episode of a new series based on The Man in the High Castle. The episode is available on streaming. I read this book another lifetime ago, but wanted to refresh my memory before watching the pilot episode. I’m glad I did as much of my memories of the book had eroded into snippets of disjointed pieces. There is much more in the book than what I’ve discussed, but I hope what I have decided to highlight will encourage more people to read this novel of science fiction that also can rest comfortably on the same shelf as literature.
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"What does it mean to fret about your fledgling career when the man across the table was tortured by two different regimes? How does your short, uneventful life compare to the lives of those who actually resisted, fought, and died? What does your angst mean in a city still pocked with bullet holes from war and crushed rebellion?"
Budapest: City of Grit
John Price left California for Budapest in search of adventure, but also to reconnect to his older brother Scott. When he was younger, Scott was a fat, unathletic, unhappy kid, but since leaving for Europe, he has sculpted his body and mind into someone very different from whom he used to be. By being around John again all the insecurities of his past come back to nag at the veneer of his new identity.
”For several years---a fucking eternity---they let all the races on earth come at me: Arabs, Asians, Africans. The worst is always when they do it themselves, when the Americans make an appearance. Then it’s not just reckless. Then it gets very thorough.”
Grip glanced at the camera in the wall.
“Don’t worry, they can stand to hear what they already know.” Said N. “Oh, they’re inventive, but it’s not their methods that we’re going to talk about, it’s the result. I guess I’ve confessed to everything.”
“Everything they wanted---signed, crawled, and prayed.”
*****WINNER OF THE NOBEL PRIZE FOR LITERATURE*****
“I was filled with such a dangerous delicious intoxication that I could have walked straight off the steps into the air, climbing on the strength of my own drunkenness into the stars. And the intoxication, as I knew even then, was the recklessness of infinite possibility.”
I would say that Miss Lessing was very fetching when she was younger, but I don’t want to be accused of objectifying her. :-)
”Destroying the painting was out of the question: my soul is all stained and shagged with sin like a cigarette smoker’s moustache but I am quite incapable of destroying works of art. Steal them, yes, cheerfully, it is a mark of respect and love, but destroy them, never. Why even the Woosters had a code, as we are told on the highest authority.”
Johnny Depp plays Mortdecai in the 2015 movie. I’ve not seen it, but most of the reviewers are torching it. Regardless, I will eventually watch it.”
”When one has governed men for a long time, when one has thought that one has acted for the best, when one knows the pains the task has entailed, and then suddenly sees that one has never been either loved or understood, but merely submitted to, then one is overwhelmed with bitterness, and wonders whether one could not have found some better way of spending one’s life.”
Philip IV, or as he is also known Philip the Fair, is dead. The curse that was cast upon him by the Templar Grand Master Jacques de Molay, while on his way to being burned at the stake, was fulfilled. Philip may have been known as The Fair, but in the case of the Templars it would be more accurate to call him Philip the Welcher. His father left the kingdom destitute. Philip borrowed a lot of money from the Templars but needed much more. He also didn’t like the idea of the Templars attempting to form their own country on the Island of Cyprus with uncertain loyalty to the French crown.
”Stealing a man’s wife, that’s nothing, but stealing his car, that’s larceny.”
John Garfield and Lana Turner in the 1946 movie.
Frank Chambers is a drifter, a man who, when life gets too heavy, catches the next boxcar out of town or puts his thumb out on the nearest highway. Being comfortable or achieving normalcy comes with too much responsibility. He’d rather bum it than have anyone relying on him.
”The racetrack was important to me because it allowed me to forget that I was supposed to be a writer. Writing was strange. I needed to write, it was like a disease, a drug, a heavy compulsion, yet I didn’t like to think of myself as a writer. Maybe I had met too many writers. They took more time disparaging each other than they did doing their work. They were fidgets, gossips, old maids; they bitched and knifed and they were full of vanity. Were these our creators? Was it always thus? Probably so. Maybe writing was a form of bitching. Some just bitched better than others.”
Henry “Hank” Chinaski can’t believe he is still alive. His hard drinking, hard living contemporaries are all dead. He is the last barfly standing. He has simplified his life, married a good woman, cut down his drinking, quit eating sugar and red meat, and relaxes by going to the racetrack everyday. The diseased part of his life, the writing, is still there humming in the back of his brain, regardless of how much he drinks or how many horse races he watches. He has to write.
”I was hot with words.”
”Give them pleasure - the same pleasure they have when they wake up from a nightmare.”
TCM a year or so ago decided for a month to stream Hitchcock movie on the weekends. I was able to catch several of his movies I’ve never seen before and watch some old favorites. To say which is my favorite is impossible, but the first movie of his that I ever watched was The Birds and I never forgot it. I was somewhere around ten years old when I saw the movie. We lived in the country and the large elm trees surrounding our property were always full of noisy blackbirds and sparrows. Barn swallows and pigeons lived in the rafters of the barns. Swallows, as I soon learned, had no fear and if they didn’t want me in “their barn” they would launch themselves at my head screeching past my ears like miniature subsonic jets.
”DiMaggio's grace came to represent more than athletic skill in those years. To the men who wrote about the game, it was a talisman, a touchstone, a symbol of the limitless potential of the human individual. That an Italian immigrant, a fisherman's son, could catch fly balls the way Keats wrote poetry or Beethoven wrote sonatas was more than just a popular marvel. It was proof positive that democracy was real. On the baseball diamond, if nowhere else, America was truly a classless society. DiMaggio's grace embodied the democracy of our dreams.”
Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio
”Reagan was called ‘the great communicator’ with reason, He was the most persuasive political speaker since Roosevelt, combining conviction, focus, and humor in the manner none of his contemporaries could approach. Reagan’s critics often dismissed the role of conviction in his persuasiveness; they attributed his speaking skill to his training as an actor. But this was exactly wrong. Reagan wasn’t acting when he spoke; his rhetorical power rested on his wholehearted belief in all the wonderful things he said about the United States and the American people, about their brave past and their brilliant future. He believed what Americans have always wanted to believe about their country, and he made them believe it too.”
How can you not like Ronald Reagan? People disagree with him. People hate his politics. People (me) even believe he broke the law, but at the end of the day he really believed in America, and he revived some faith in the office of President...well…for a while. The Republican party has been searching for the next Reagan ever since he left office in 1988.
They have not succeeded.