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.

4 thoughts on “The Lathe of Heaven and The Silence in Heaven

  1. shh! you’ll spoil it for every­one! but i agree with you. plus the fact that it takes place in Oregon [where LeGuin lives] has some­thing to do with your en­joy­ment of it…

  2. Re: Lathe of Heaven
    I es­pe­cial­ly like the Aliens he gen­er­ates in his dream­scape. One of them set up a shop un­der the bridge sell­ing an­tiques and a strange mix of won­der­ful things. Yoda like.… Yeah good book.

  3. nev­er read Lathe of Heaven, but do u know if Peter Lord-Wolff has a se­quel to The Silence in Heaven please let me know

  4. I would al­so like to know of a se­quel to The Silence in Heaven. Not sure you’ll ever get this, but I liked the book so very much.

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