Well the first round of hosting book club here didn’t work out so great, but I am not one to be defeated easily. We plan to try it again with the Cuckoo’s Calling on December the 23rd, so I hope you can join us and chat through that book in any capacity.
As for my own personal journey with The Man in the High Castle, it’s a book I’ll have to read a few more times because it was FAR quieter than I anticipated. For some reason, I expected the typical YA dystopia revolution or some sort of large-scale war, but it was a novel about culture care and that’s the most beautiful part about it.
The big turn in the novel comes with the creation of new, authentic art and the effect that has on every character. Dick kind of winks at the camera there at the end where he says — the his inverted funhouse mirror of the doppleganger version of himself — that the commentary he made about America and Britain within The Grasshopper Lies heavy (a book about what the world would be like if the allies won the war) was true. And if they didn’t like that, they shouldn’t read it.
His point, of course, is that we are the Japanese and the Germans. We are ruthless in our trust of technology and capitalism. We do quarantine and have slaves and apartheid. We are just as bad, if not worse, than the Germans. And mind you, he was writing this long before 2016 and writing it about “normal” people in power and “normal” citizens.
The absolute response for Dick is that of art: of culture born into the void and not sold out to be rendered into millions of little trinkets and cheap copies that can enrich the designer, nor to be squashed in order to make room for rockets that will spread our wrath and our chauvinism and our genocide and our competition to other planets, but rather to live in the high castle of art: to erect, in the mind, through the imagination, the barbed wire and stone and moat of another world — of a world in which making is possible.
The response to the racism and the bigotry and the ruthless pursuit of greed and power we see in our hearts is not to kill off the part of ourselves that wants to keep those impulses in check. No. The response is to actually move forward and create a new world that inflames our generosity and our meekness — even our abnegation — that deigns to serve.
More majestic than any rocket ship, any ancient artifact, any military victory, any show of strength or feat of sex or decadent meal in the book is the handicraft of one jew named Frank Frink buffing out the scratches on a handcrafted silver earring.
Dick was right: it was the first seeds of a New America.
Will it be today?