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Friday, March 10, 2006

cover of The Lathe of Heaven

A man named George Orr has dreams. So he takes pills to stop the dreams from being intense. From being effective. His dreams change the world. Not simply the future, but they change the way the world has been previously. As he ages, he begins to have many memories of the past -- the ones that might have been, that were, that contain people he knew... Too many memories of the past, present, and future to keep straight. Because of the drugs, he gets sent to a psychotherapist, who decides to make the world better by controlling these dreams. But it doesn't work quite the way he wants it to...

Dreams are uncontrollable. In the past, George went to sleep thinking some vague thought, and woke up with his unconscious taking that thought to some place he wouldn't have thought possible. Things have to make sense. At one point, he explains to someone that if he dreamed that a pink dog walked into the room, there would be a reasonable explanation. Perhaps someone dyed their dog's hair. Or perhaps dogs have always come in various colors including pink. Things that wouldn't make sense to us force things to change both backward and forward (like ripples).

Dr. Haber, the psychotherapist seems nice, but likes power. He has found a way to induce dream state, so tries to control George's dreams. He cannot be specific enough to get exactly what he wants. The world slowly becomes a completely different place. Dr. Haber asks for peace in the world, and that peace is achieved by creating aliens that forced the humans to unify. So, he gets what he wants, but without thoroughly thinking through possible consequences. Our actions are powerful and do have effects, but sometimes we choose not to be aware of what might happen. Sometimes I wish that nobody watched me. But that is definitely not true. Little kids watch me. Other adults watch to see how I react and what I believe and if I act in accordance with those ideals. What a challenge -- to live in such a way that we aren't trying to play God, but to be simply human.

I really like the stuff this woman writes. Her images, her thoughts, her way of expressing. Beautiful. In this book there are a few references to God and the Bible. Just a couple of sentences here and there. But placed wisely to have deep meaning for those who know the references and ideas well. Interesting.. wonder where she is on her journey toward God. Haven't read all of her stuff, but would like to slowly make my way through her many books (at least 19, in something I read recently.) So far, I think I've read 7. It's a start..

Title:The Lathe of Heaven
Author:Ursula K. Le Guin
Date published:1971
Genre: Science Fiction, Futuristic
Number of pages: 175
Notes: recommended by lark


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