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Book Review: The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick

February 10, 2021
The Man in the High CastleThe Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For a long time I had not considered to read this particular work by Philip K. Dick. It had seemed to me that it would be a different format and style to his usual books, given the subject matter. But, he manages to expertly weave this story into his usual style. Creating a semi-realistic vision of an alternate reality where the Nazi’s and Japan win the Second World War, as well as a typical story of his, like Ubik, and some of his later ones like Valis, where the reality of their world is questioned by the characters based on certain clues and suggestions of fakery compared to a more real world somehow hidden from view. The real world of course, in this case, perhaps unlike some of his other stories would be our actual history.

The book raises a lot of thoughts and questions on what is real, and addresses the differing mentalities of the eastern mindset and the anglo saxons, and the German idealistic insanity and where it can unhealthily lead when pursued to the extreme, and it always amazes me how Dick is able to convey so many deep thoughts and so much information about a subject with such short stacatto style sentences. In one brief paragraph, for example, he sums up well one of the perennial dilemmas we face as humans, that is discussed for whole books in ancient Greek moral philosophy with Socrates and Plato: “We do not have the ideal world, such as we would like, where morality is easy because cognition is easy. Where one can do right with no effort because he can detect the obvious.”

This whole section and other parts of the book also, evoke these kind of moral and metaphysical dilemmas we face between the world as we would like it to be the case, and the truth or real world that is presented to our senses. Cognitive dissonance in the face of such hard realities is unsurprising and difficult to avoid, and can make us all ask of ourselves just how real are the ideological things we often claim to believe in with such zeal and enthusiasm.

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