The Lathe of Heaven and The Silence in Heaven

I read two books in two days. Yes, I’ve already fin­ished the books I picked up Sun­day at the library. Besides both hav­ing the word ‘heav­en’ in the title and both using the word ‘mil­que­toast’ in the expo­si­tion, they are very dif­fer­ent.

The Silence of Heav­en by Peter Lord-Wolff is a pret­ty decent first nov­el. The plot con­cerns itself with Fall­en Angels and a spe­cif­ic Fall­en Angel named Tashum who is try­ing to return to the Light of Heav­en. This take on the Fall is a new one for me and wel­come, some might take it as a jus­ti­fi­ca­tion of the rebel­lion against God [or, in this book, the Voice] but those who see it this way are miss­ing the author’s inten­tion. [Yes, I set up a straw man to burn it down] Lord-Wolff gives an excel­lent con­struc­tion for exam­in­ing the spir­i­tu­al nature of human­i­ty by pro­ject­ing the same desires onto a being with more grace. It is a rather good exam­ple of what I think is meant by:

“All the same,” replied Syme patient­ly, “just at present you only see the tree by the light of the lamp. I won­der when you would ever see the lamp by the light of the tree.” -G.K. Chester­ton, The Man Who Was Thurs­day

The book also has a dif­fer­ent take on the sub­ject of vam­pires [I must admit I was dis­ap­point­ed when they showed up, I just want­ed a book about angels and fall­en angels]. In Lord-Wolff’s world vam­pires are cre­at­ed by drink­ing the blood of an angel. Which was inter­est­ing. As a whole the book was a promis­ing first effort for a new author. I hope that he matures in his fur­ther nov­els.

Ursu­la K. LeGuin’s The Lathe of Heav­en has final­ly secured her place among my favorite authors. The fact that she is the daugh­ter of my sec­ond favorite anthro­pol­o­gist Alfred Kroe­ber def­i­nite­ly car­ries through into her work. I’ve always thought of anthro­pol­o­gy as a sort of applied phi­los­o­phy, a phys­i­cal analy­sis of meta­phys­i­cal being. LeGuin seems to under­stand this and takes it a step fur­ther. Instead of doc­u­ment­ing and ana­lyz­ing, she also fills her work with impli­ca­tion. She thinks things through and has an eerie under­stand­ing of the blocks and wid­gets that form a cul­tur­al sys­tem. She can take one of these blocks, change it slight­ly and make very good refractive/reflective state­ments on our own belief sys­tems. She is a mas­ter at see­ing the lamp by the light of the tree.

The Lathe of Heav­en is a very com­pli­cat­ed book. The plot con­cerns itself with a man named George Orr who dreams ‘effec­tive­ly.’ That is, his dreams change real­i­ty. He is under the psy­chi­atric care of a Dr. Haber, who is using Orr to play God and attempt to cre­ate a utopia. This nov­el address­es prob­lems that are so com­plex I don’t real­ly know how to expli­cate them. It is very psy­cho­log­i­cal, it rais­es eth­i­cal dilem­mas, ques­tions the nature of real­i­ty, defines san­i­ty is a star­tling man­ner, and under­mines some of the inher­ent assump­tions that we West­ern­ers hold so dear. I read it cov­er to cov­er last night. Even if you don’t like spec­u­la­tive or sci­ence fic­tion you should read this book. The sci­ence-fic­tion is not heavy hand­ed. It was made into a movie back in 1980 and then again into a movie by A&E both of which I am going to have to track down. Read this book.

ADDENDUM: I for­got to men­tion that I attribute this sud­den jump back in to my usu­al read­ing habits to the fact that I now have a bed. I typ­i­cal­ly read ful­ly reclined on a couch or bed and now that I have the lat­ter I can read com­fort­ably.

An Open Letter to All Women

Dear,

Every­thing is going to be alright. I final­ly under­stand. Yes­ter­day I had an epiphany and reached enlight­en­ment of a sort. I know you are mad­ly in love with me; and that is okay. I’m writ­ing this to tell you that being total­ly con­sumed by the fires of your ardor is a good thing. You don’t have to fight against it. Go ahead, sur­ren­der your­self to your pas­sions and lose your­self in your love for me. There is noth­ing to fear of love.

I cer­tain­ly didn’t expect this to be the case. Until yes­ter­day I hadn’t real­ized what an amaz­ing­ly fan­tas­tic per­son I am, how dev­as­tat­ing­ly hand­some, how I am exact­ly what every woman on this earth wants. Every woman knows me, for I am her great­est desire. I had not imag­ined I was so inher­ent­ly gift­ed. I must admit, it is quite the respon­si­bil­i­ty. That is, hold­ing in my hands, as it were, the very beings of each of you. Hav­ing in my pow­er, if I so chose to do so, the abil­i­ty to make fists of my hands and destroy your very souls.

I must cer­tain­ly appear quite god­like to you ladies. I can suc­cor or smite thee, raise you up or cast you down into ruin. The pow­er of this real­iza­tion has gone to my head a bit. But still, there is no rea­son to fear love. There is no rea­son to pre­tend that you don’t know me, pre­tend that you don’t want me with every last glu­on of your being. There is no longer any need for you to hide from your true feel­ing by say­ing that you love anoth­er. There is forever­more no real pur­pose to any resis­tance on your part to the engulf­ing force of your desire. Do not run away from love, instead run into it.

I can feel your heart race when you catch even the briefest glimpse of me. I am aware of the machi­na­tions and lengths to which you are will­ing to sub­mit your­selves to in order to gain prox­im­i­ty to me. I am amazed at the strength of your char­ac­ter and in your abil­i­ties to suc­cess­ful­ly con­ceal your zeal all of these years. But I tell you now, that is no longer need­ed. I know. I know and I have accept­ed my respon­si­bil­i­ty. I have enough love for you all. Come unto me and find peace and ful­fill­ment. Do not fear your love for me. I am here and no one of you need be afraid of your love again.

Yours, Tru­ly,

Adam

Running Into Things

I ran into near rush-hour traf­fic this morn­ing on the way to work and then dis­cov­ered that many peo­ple must have decid­ed that Mon­day was get to work ass-ear­ly just like Adam day. Yes­ter­day, I ran to the library and picked up a cou­ple of books, [The Lathe of Heav­en by Ursu­la K. LeGuin and The Silence in Heav­en by Peter Lord-Wolff] and my lim­it of three DVDs, all for­eign. I nabbed Chushin­gu­ra — Hana no maki yuki no maki [a short­er ver­sion of the same sto­ry in The 47 Ronin, and this one has Toshi­ro in it]; The 400 Blows [Cri­te­ri­on Col­lec­tion DVD, w00t!]; and Ren? Clair’s ? nous la lib­ert?. While run­ning pri­or to that, I ran into some dog shit and it ran with me for the rest of my run. Or, at least it ran with me until I ran into a big suck­ing mud pud­dle and almost lost a hoof. Before that, I ran nowhere because I was still recov­er­ing from run­ning into a wall on Sat­ur­day after­noon when the falafel I’d had Sat­ur­day morn­ing decid­ed to run around in my intesti­nal tract. I had done some run­ning on Sat­ur­day whilst simul­ta­ne­ous­ly throw­ing a fris­bee as well.

Why am I always run­ning every­where? I should take the time to stop and smell the trees/bushes that grow along 77 and 90 and are there [in my the­o­ry] to cut the smell of the foundry/steel mill/chemical pro­cess­ing facil­i­ty just past them. They smell famil­iar but I’m not sure what they are, exact­ly. When I actu­al­ly go run­ning my work­out con­sists of run­ning and then walk­ing and then run­ning and then walk­ing and then run­ning and then walk­ing again. Not very dis­ci­plined. I fig­ure, how­ev­er, that if I just extend the amount of time my work­out takes, then I will even­tu­al­ly be able to cut out most of the walk­ing. I will end this entry abrupt­ly.