Aptly subtitled, "An Ambiguous Utopia", "The Dispossessed" tells a story of two worlds, separated by an ideology.
Anarres, an anarchistic utopian offshAptly subtitled, "An Ambiguous Utopia", "The Dispossessed" tells a story of two worlds, separated by an ideology.
Anarres, an anarchistic utopian offshoot from the Old World of Urras isn't perfect. It's portrait as a flawed utopia, which saves it from the overly idealistic perfect world idea. More importantly, it does carry a promise of a possible anarchistic society. Where the sharing is encouraged and freedom valued above all.
Our protagonist seeks to "unbuild walls" by working on a promising scientific theory he wants to give to everyone in the hopes of uniting the humanity, even beyond his world and the neighboring one. The novel glimpses other worlds (Hain and Terra) but doesn't give more than few teasing ideas about it. The world of Urras is complex and layered, and obviously modeled on the Earth societies, and serves as a foundation and a contrast to Anarresti flavor of anarchism. The growing bureaucracy, stiffening of the revolutionary ideas and rampant xenophobia are very realistic, even for an alien anarchistic society. The dangers of the Revolution becoming stagnant are well described. Woven throughout are feminist ideas coupled with anarchistic ones, a fantastic treatise on a realistic utopia - a society of people owning nothing, but ultimately free.
Problems I found with the book were mostly stylistic, the two-tiered approach to chronology was confusing for the first couple of chapters, before I caught on. Another thing was just too many alien terms and ideas in the first chapter or two, it made following of the story difficult, with so many foreign concepts.
"You can’t crush ideas by suppressing them. You can only crush them by ignoring them. By refusing to think, refusing to change." - p. 165
"What drives people crazy is trying to live outside reality. Reality is terrible. It can kill you. Given time, it certainly will kill you. The reality is pain— you said that! But it’s the lies, the evasions of reality, that drive you crazy. It’s the lies that make you want to kill yourself." - pp. 165-166
"And I speak of spiritual suffering! Of people seeing their talent, their work, their lives wasted. Of good minds submitting to stupid ones. Of strength and courage strangled by envy, greed for power, fear of change. Change is freedom, change is life" - p. 166
"It’s always easier not to think for oneself. Find a nice safe hierarchy and settle in. Don’t make changes, don’t risk disapproval, don’t upset your syndics. It’s always easiest to let yourself be governed." - p. 168
"There’s a point, around age twenty,” Bedap said, “when you have to choose whether to be like everybody else the rest of your life, or to make a virtue of your peculiarities." - p. 249
(on military) "“You even call it discipline? But it is neither. It is a coercive mechanism of extraordinary inefficiency— a kind of seventh-millennium steam engine! With such a rigid and fragile structure what could be done that was worth doing?” This had given Atro a chance to argue the worth of warfare as the breeder of courage and manliness and the weeder-out of the unfit, but the very line of his argument had forced him to concede the effectiveness of guerrillas, organized from below, self-disciplined." - p. 305
"If you evade suffering you also evade the chance of joy. Pleasure you may get, or pleasures, but you will not be fulfilled. You will not know what it is to come home." - p. 334
"But any rule is tyranny. The duty of the individual is to accept no rule, to be the initiator of his own acts, to be responsible." - p. 359...more
Dancing between madness and profound futuristic spirituality, this book was my first by Robert Anton Wilson. At first extremely skeptical, the more I rDancing between madness and profound futuristic spirituality, this book was my first by Robert Anton Wilson. At first extremely skeptical, the more I read, the more it resonated with me. It rekindled my interest in fringe science and dedicated philosophical spirituality.
Wilson writes on most diverse subjects connected mostly to Higher Intelligences which may or may not be Extraterrestrial, contacting many prominent scientist. The book doesn't try to convert, instead it preaches accepting multiple models of the world, sort of belief-superposition.
Even though this quote appears in the foreword, it sums up the spirit of the book: "When dogma enters the brain, all intellectual activity ceases"...more
Wanting to read this for a long time, it took me two reading sessions, as I was unable to leave the book after I got past half of it, reading it untilWanting to read this for a long time, it took me two reading sessions, as I was unable to leave the book after I got past half of it, reading it until 5am.
PKD at his best, a paranoid, psychotically sophisticated SF story (probably written on one of his amphetamine binges) which made me feel the panic attacks I used to have where it seems that entire reality is falling apart and death seems imminent.
My wife bought this paper edition and I love it so much.
The "Valis" is next, and "Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said" to complete his most outstanding works.
As with other stories, this has strong Gnostic influence, to the extent it can be viewed as an allegory of the story about Demiurge, set in worlds of living, half-lifers, the entropy and Ubik.