Science Fiction Studies

#77 = Volume 26, Part 1 = March 1999

Lorenzo DiTommaso

Redemption in Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle

As N. Katherine Hayles observes, there is no magic key that will unlock all the doors in a Philip K. Dick novel, "no scheme under which all of a given novel’s details will fit without contradiction" (53). In the case of Dick’s The Man in the High Castle [hereafter MHC], the large number and variety of these details have led scholars to concentrate more on Dick’s narrative technique, and less on identifying any general interpretive keys by which the novel might be understood. One notable exception to this trend has been the identification of Taoism as a hermeneutic code for comprehending MHC, a task both warranted and ameliorated by the part played within the novel by the I Ching.1 Comparatively little mention, however, has been made of the equally profound role accorded by Dick to the dualistic cosmology of gnostic Christian theologies.2 Accordingly, this paper demonstrates that Dick intentionally and pervasively employs standard categories of this cosmology throughout MHC, and uses them to give shape and meaning to the redemptive journeys that the novel’s major characters undertake.

Three points need be made concerning my methodology. First, the dualistic vocabulary and themes that articulate the tenets of gnostic Christianity are not limited to it alone; at times the designations "Philonic,"3 "Platonic," or "Pauline" will serve just as well. The latter term is actually most preferable in some contexts, since it is the apostle Paul’s views on the state of humankind that not only provide a framework for understanding the ethical dimensions of the existence in which MHC’s protagonists operate, but also shed light on the novel’s emphasis on the necessity of faith. Many of the great gnostic theologians themselves begin with Paul’s letters, and Dick himself quotes from or alludes to the apostle at several crucial points in the novel. By and large, however, "gnostic Christian" is a perfectly appropriate label. Second, while it is true that Dick consulted the I Ching while composing MHC (McNelly, 1324), no evidence exists that Dick made any substantive exegesis of Paul’s letters or the gnostic Christian texts.4 In fact, some of the tenets that are imperative to Paul and the gnostics (e.g., the centrality of Christ) are completely absent in MHC. The aim of this essay is not to establish that Dick consulted Paul’s epistle to the Galatians or the gnostic Revelation of Adam before typing each chapter, nor is it to prove that he wished to integrate into the novel the sum total of the theology of either the apostle or any of the gnostic thinkers. Instead, this paper argues that the redemptive journeys of MHC—essentially, one way of comprehending what the novel is "all about"— are not only expressed by but are also best understood in basic and generic gnostic Christian categories. Third, although the temptation certainly exists to highlight the strong connections between MHC and Dick’s later VALIS trilogy,5 the elements of gnostic thought are so pervasive in the trilogy that it would not be incorrect to label at least VALIS itself as a full-fledged gnostic text in its own right. In contrast, MHC is not a philosophic tractate, and we must evaluate its dualistic elements in a different fashion and without comparison to these much later works.6

In Paul’s theology, sin is a dual proposition.7 Voluntary sin is basically any wrongful thought or deed. More important for our purposes is Paul’s conception of involuntary Sin, which is a power under whose domain humans can never be free. This is the state of Sin, often termed "Flesh" by Paul, a state that mere repentance and forgiveness are not enough to overcome, and from whose grasp humans require need of a superior, liberating, redemptive power. For Paul, this power is to be found in the salvational death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the means of liberation from the power of Sin is faith in Christ, a faith manifested in acknowledging and accepting God’s gracious offer of redemption. Faith is not an action that is merely done, but something that needs continual commitment and a substantive alteration of one’s perspective and attitudes; it is a change so radical that Paul speaks of it in terms of dying to the old life and being reborn into the new. Redemption (or justification) is thus brought about through Christ and by faith, and restores an individual to the correct relationship with God. In the end, human righteousness is the way in which one lives while in this restored relationship, after having died to Sin and thereby having gained new life in Christ.8

The powers of Flesh and Spirit are polar opposites, literally separate spheres. Generally speaking, the primary antecedents of dualistic cosmologies are Iranian Zoroastrianism, with its emphasis on a light/dark and good/evil dichotomy (concerning which see Dick’s earliest novel, The Cosmic Puppets), and the Greek philosopher Plato, with his distinction between the intelligible and sensible worlds. Later on, certain Hellenistic Jewish or Gentile philosophers and many of the gnostic Christian writers reformatted this dualism in terms of two kosmoi. To collate drastically the many variations on the theme, the intelligible kosmos is the world of forms, the realm where reason rules. By reason one can have full knowledge of the true nature of things. The intelligible world is also portrayed often as the realm of to ov ("the existing") or the divine godhead. In contrast, the sensible kosmos is the place of the shadows of these forms, the mundane, earthly world where one’s crude senses and unreasoning passions cause these shadows to be mistaken for the forms themselves. It is a demesne where things can only be perceived improperly, as if obscured. For a significant number of these philosophers and theologians, the in-breaking logos represents a vertical transmission from the intelligible or divine kosmos to the sensible or mundane one. (A slightly different way of expressing this would be to conceive the logos as a hypostatic element.) When present, this transmission is frequently expressed in terms of "knowledge" (gnosis) or wisdom (sophia). To be precise, Paul does not call Christ an in-breaking logos, but the mechanics underlying his notion of the separate spheres of Flesh and Spirit and the redemptive activity of Christ nevertheless find parallel with and expansion in works such as the Gospel of John and those gnostic scriptures that in many ways precipitate from Pauline theology. Moreover, Paul’s idea of one’s dying to the old life before being reborn into the new is echoed in the gnostic Christian belief that one must awake to his or her present state of existence before he or she is able to transcend it.

In MHC, the five major characters—Tagomi, Childan, Frank Frink, Juliana Frink, and Wegener9—are introduced to the reader as persons who live and operate under the aegis of the sensible world, though initially none is aware of this situation.10 Henceforth, the phrases "sensible world" and (less often) the "power of Sin" refer to this pre-redemptive condition. The manner in which these characters come to identify their place in this world and subsequently work to recognize the intelligible realm lies, I believe, at the centre of MHC. This progression is like a journey from one reality to another, and may on one level be apprehended as an ascension from ignorance to knowledge. It is not simply a horizontal shift in perspective, nor is it a substitution of the world of MHC with the world of The Grasshopper Lies Heavy [hereafter GLH], the novel-within-a-novel that tells of a past where the Axis powers were defeated in the Second World War. There is no more inner truth in GLH than there is in MHC, for history is the identification and interpretation of past-time data, an activity that can strain but cannot break the bonds of subjectivity.11 All history, qua history, is subject to this restriction, a theme that Dick implies repeatedly in MHC. Like everything in the sensible world, history depends ultimately on external referents—material, literary, and oral evidence—for its validity. In contrast, the journeys on which Dick sends his characters involve a gradual but radical adjustment of their internal alignment with the precepts and presuppositions of a totally new state, an action that consequently frees them from the strictures of the old. Thus Dick draws a distinction between, on one hand, the essential but often unrecognized ambiguity that is possessed by all the external items, deeds, and words, and, on the other hand, the fundamental concreteness of the larger reality that transcends the ability of individuals to affect its immutable nature.

The unfixed nature of all things in the sensible world underpins the Sitz im Leben of MHC, and the reader will immediately notice that few persons or things in the novel are exactly what they appear to be. For example, in order to escape notice until his critical meeting with General Tedeki, Abwehr officer Rudolf Wegener masquerades as Herr Baynes, a Swedish industrialist with business with Mr. Tagomi in the Japanese-controlled Pacific States of America (PSA). Tagomi is served notice that appearances may deceive when a cable message arrives from Tokyo alluding to a line from the operetta H.M.S. Pinafore: "Things are seldom what they seem—Skim milk masquerades as cream" (§2:21).12 Until this meeting, too, General Tedeki is referred to by the novel’s characters as a "Mr. Yatabe," and is considered to be little more than an elderly gentleman. Then there is Frank Frink, the artisan who loses his job at the Wyndam-Matson Corporation. Frank Frink is actually Frank Fink, a Jew who lives in constant fear of identification and extradition to the Nazi-controlled areas of the United States. His erstwhile employer, Wyndam-Matson, is ostensibly the owner of a company that makes wrought-iron goods and other metal products, but is in reality the head of a conspiracy that is centered on the manufacture of imitation artifacts, an enterprise that takes advantage of the insatiable Japanese thirst for objects they consider to be authentic Americana. Frink will later falsely represent himself as an intermediary for a certain Japanese "Admiral Harusha," who (Frink claims) wishes to buy a number of artifacts from Robert Childan, the proprietor of American Artistic Handcrafts, Inc. But the name of the store is misleading, since it is a major outlet for the W-M mass-produced forgeries. Frink’s ulterior motive is to label as forgeries the W-M pieces that are selling as authentic Americana in Childan’s store, thereby threatening to expose the entire scam and thus providing Frink with the means to blackmail his former employer into paying him the seed money he needs for his own jewelery workshop. Meanwhile Frink’s ex-wife, Juliana, spends most of the novel traveling with Joe Cinnadella, the Swiss assassin whose target is Abendsen, the so-called "Man in the High Castle" and the author of GLH. In order to deceive Juliana and approach Abendsen, Joe poses as a rootless Italian truck-driver. Finally, at the end of the novel, Juliana finds Abendsen to be quite different from the figure who is described on the dust jacket of GLH. Instead of living in an impregnable and unapproachable fortress defended all round by guns and electrified barbed wire, Abendsen resides in a modest, unguarded, and wholly ordinary single-story house with shrubs growing in the front garden and a child’s tricycle parked in the driveway.

Related to this surface ambiguity of the characters is the difficulty for the reader to use their thoughts and words as a definitive ethical barometer by which to measure the cultures of which they are part. Hordes of boorish Japanese peasant-draftees wander through the red-light districts of PSA cities (§1:11), but many of their upper classes are far more cultured and subtle in word or gesture than their American counterparts. Neither the Japanese nor the Nazis have "solved the problem of the aged" (§5:71), but at the same time the Japanese are "so strong on law" (§1:17) and once refused a Nazi request to massacre the Jews of Shanghai (§5:72). It is an American, Childan, who provides most of the novel’s blatant racism: "We live in a society of law and order, where Jews can’t pull their subtleties on the innocent. We’re protected" (§7:111). The Nazis, too, are difficult to judge, at least from the standpoint of the novel’s characters. Seated in a diner, Juliana recalls that "German investment has done a lot ... it didn’t take long for them to build the U.S. back up," but the cook has to remind her that the Jews suffered horribly in the process (§3:36). Childan notes that the Nazis do fine things with plastics (§2:24-25). They have drained and farmed the Mediterranean and their rockets have begun to explore the solar system. Still, Africa has been made into an empty desolation by an overzealous Nazi racial project, although Childan opines that "no criticism was legitimately in order" because the Nazis have managed to eradicate the African aboriginals in less than a tenth of the time that it had taken the Americans to kill off the North American ones! (§2:28). The condemnation or condoning of the Nazi endeavors depends on the perspective of the individual and on the context in which the perspective is set. Joe tells Juliana about the benefits of the Nazi Organization Todt, and how it gave pride and dignity to skilled workmen (§6:86). Likewise, Childan approves of the Nazi racial policies in the East, commenting approvingly on how the Slavs "had been rolled back two thousand years’ worth, to their heartland in Asia" (§2:24). Dick’s dramatic transposition of cultural stereotypes is not accidental. As Kim Stanley Robinson observes, the American reader comes to expect a "patriotic moment" wherein at least one American character will stand up proudly amid his collaborator neighbors and let the evil-doers have it with both barrels. Yet when that patriotic moment finally arrives, it is the Japanese Tagomi who fills the role.13

Dick’s refusal to allow his characters to present a monolithic and polarized picture of either the Japanese or the Nazis is not simply a by-product of his polyphonic narrative, although that technique is certainly at work here. Rather, Dick presents a curious mix of fact and fiction that forces the reader of MHC, just like the implied reader of GLH, to challenge the substance of his or her own reality. Questions about the true nature of facts in the sensible realm—the realm of MHC and GLH—are imposed on the reader’s world and act both as a mirror and the object that shatters the mirror. Just as heightened awareness and a close scrutiny of one’s environment render the boundaries between MHC and GLH less distinct, so also by the same processes do the confines between our world and those of the two novels become blurred. Juliana reads about the details of an alternate history in GLH and wonders at the solidity of her reality; we read about the details of an alternate history in MHC and wonder about the solidity of ours.

Nothing touches more on the arbitrary nature of the sensible world than the relationship between an item and its historical authenticity, or, as Wyndam-Matson says, its "historicity." Slusser remarks that everything in MHC is "potential" and "uncommitted to any fixed historical sequence" (196). Because objects never exist outside history, they are subject forever to interpretation. A collector’s piece sold by Childan is no less and never more than the aggregate of its historicity. On one level, some of Childan’s stock is fraudulent: it is simply not what others allege it to be. For example, the Colt .44 that he displays to a disguised Frink is a fake, an out-and-out W-M forgery. On another level, the weapon (and indeed all such objects, faked or not) is categorically phony: it is representative of an American culture that is predicated exclusively on Japanese criteria. Whereas Japanese art is presented in MHC as simple and subtle, American art is seen to be facile and unable to evoke deeper reflection. The apartment of Paul and Betty Kasoura is appointed simply and according to the Japanese sense of harmony (§7:104), while Paul’s office contains a print of a masterpiece as its only decoration (§11:174). Curios like Disney watches, Jean Harlow posters, and the mummified head of Buffalo Bill become in the eyes of the Japanese overlords the "real" American art, the "authentic" relics of the pre-war, pre-occupation culture. At the same time, the Japanese identification and appreciation of "real" American art subsequently becomes the only standard by which Americans judge themselves and their culture. For instance, we see Tagomi’s local-born assistant, Mr. Ramsey, sporting the mid-west cowboy look "considered so high-place among the style-conscious of the day" (§2:23). For Robert Childan, too, American culture is no more than the sum total of the very wares that are displayed in his store.

In the world of MHC, therefore, sense-perception is the sole vehicle and interpretation is the only measure by which all things and all persons might be appraised. Past critics of the novel have rightly focused attention on the pivotal scene where Wyndam-Matson discusses the phenomenon of historicity with his secretary.14 The businessman possesses two identical cigarette lighters, only one of which was in FDR’s pocket when the president was assassinated. Wyndam-Matson observes,

"I mean, a gun goes through a famous battle, like the Meuse-Argonne, and it’s the same as if it hadn’t, unless you know. It’s in here." He tapped his head. "In the mind, not the gun..."

"I don’t believe either of those two lighters belonged to Franklin Roosevelt," the girl said.

Wyndam-Matson giggled. "That’s my point! I’d have to prove it to you with some sort of document. A paper of authenticity. And so it’s all a fake, a mass delusion. The paper proves its worth, not the object itself!" (§5:63-64, italics in original)

Afterwards we are told that "the paper and the lighter had cost [W-M] a fortune, but they were worth it—because they enabled him to prove that he was right, that word "fake" meant nothing really, since the word "authentic" meant nothing really" (§5:64). Another illustration of this phenomenon occurs when Frink realizes that his being fired from his job means that the Laborers’ Justification Committee (a curious name itself) will be called upon to reevaluate his status. Despite the fact that Frink’s skills were neither honed nor dulled by his firing, he faces the likelihood that they no longer will be recognized and that he will be declassified. (§1:13) In the cases of both the lighter and Frink’s skills, the documentation or the guarantee of authenticity—in the end, the interpretation—is inseparable from the object itself. There is no stable arbiter by which deception or sincerity is measured. This reliance on the external is the primary mark of life in the sensible world, an existence that all the major characters of MHC will come to know and from which they will seek to find redemption.

If the authenticity of an object is derived only from superficial, sensible criteria, it follows that the same may be true for the larger categories like "culture" or "Jew." Concerning the former, Tagomi accepts the assumption that Disney watches are "most authentic of dying old U.S. culture" (§3:44), but the German Wegener, when presented with one by Tagomi as a gift, can only wonder whether Tagomi was playing some type of obscure joke on him. The reader might think it prima facie obvious that comic books and Disney watches are not typical representations of American art, but that is not what is at stake here. What Dick is stressing is a basic indeterminacy endemic to the sensible world. For instance, the pervasiveness of the Japanese perspectives on culture extends into the corporate, linguistic, and social spheres as well. When Tagomi was forced to leave the Foreign Office meeting, he thought, "Several heads turned. Saw him. Humiliation. Sick at important meeting. Lost place" (§6:91). Tagomi judges himself by the reactions of others. Compare Tagomi’s fears with the syntax and tenor of Childan’s reaction when Tagomi mispronounces his surname. It was an "...insult within the code that made Childan’s ears burn. Place pulled, the dreadful mortification of their situation" (§1:10). As with the issue about artifacts and historicity, Dick operates on more than one level here. Childan’s reaction parallels Tagomi’s not only because he, like Tagomi, is worried about what people will think, but also because his reaction is framed in the context of a foreign culture that, unrecognized to Childan, has imposed itself in his consciousness. In Robinson’s words, "he is a quisling who apes Japanesed [sic] English speech patterns and Nazi attitudes" (47).

The same dynamics are at work with respect to the issue of race. En route to the PSA, Wegener meets an artist named Lotze, who comments that the new baseball park in San Francisco looks Jewish in design. Lotze’s words lead to a moment of self-reflection by Wegener that culminates in a rash act: Wegener confides to Lotze that he himself is a Jew, but because of his intimate political connections Lotze will never be able to substantiate this claim publically. Wegener then threatens to tell the police (who will believe him because of his credentials and political allies) that Lotze is a Jew. This scene is not without its (black) humor, to be sure, but eliciting a laugh from his readers does not seem to be Dick’s prime objective here. Lotze knows that he is not a Jew, but this datum makes no difference, since it cannot be confirmed by the outside world, by the external senses. In his mind, should Wegener carry out his threat, Lotze would be a Gentile wrongly accused by a Jew. From the viewpoint of the authorities, however, Lotze would be a Jew who was reported by a loyal Gentile. Dick’s final twist is that the reader assumes that Abwehr Captain Wegener is actually a Gentile. The issue of one’s race is therefore exclusively a matter of documentation, a question of interpretation: By the criteria of the sensible world, an "internal state" is, except in cases when the very strictures of that world are themselves under scrutiny, completely irrelevant to the determination of the character of the object or issue at hand. For instance, while en route to see Abendsen, Juliana tells Joe about the program that she heard on the radio:

"Did you hear the Bob Hope show the other night?" she called. "He told this really funny joke, the one where this German major is interviewing some Martians. The Martians can’t provide racial documentation about their grandparents being Aryan, you know. So the German major reports back to Berlin that Mars is populated by Jews." Coming into the living room where Joe lay in the bed, she said, "And they’re about one foot tall, and have two heads ... you know how Bob Hope goes on." (§6:77)

Some time afterwards, Hugo Reiss, the Reich consul in San Francisco, ponders the matter:

That Herr Hope is right, he thought. With his joke about our contact on Mars. Mars populated by Jews. We would see them there, too. Even with their two heads apiece, standing one foot high. (§8:122)

There can be no plainer indication that everything in MHC which exists— race, artifacts, or ethics—is dependent upon external referents for meaning and validation.15

Central to most dualistic cosmologies is the conviction that movement is possible between the sensible and intelligible realms. We noted earlier that the vector from the latter to the former was frequently expressed by the ancient writers as the logos, an understanding to which Dick subscribes fully in VALIS but touches on as early as Time Out of Joint.16 To be precise, the manner in which motion between the realms is effected is expressed differently in the works of the Alexandrian Jew Philo than it is, for example, in a tractate of the gnostic theologian Valentinus. To reiterate, however: it is not so much the case that Dick at this point in his career follows slavishly a particular theologian on such-and-such a point as it is that he seems to have had a general, conflated appreciation of the various dualistic philosophies and that this appreciation was engaged and employed during the course of his writing MHC. Dick was not a Pauline scholar, a gnostic acolyte, or a Taoist holy man; rather, he was a composer of speculative fiction who drew regularly from a deep reservoir of ideas into which had been poured a substantial measure of dualistic philosophy. If in MHC he quotes or presses into service explicit passages or themes from an ancient writer, he does so freely and without a great deal of thought to solving every potential contradiction. Dick is not a systematic theologian until VALIS.

The movement of one from the domain of the sensible to that of the intelligible is often framed in the gnostic philosophies by the language of redemption and/or is conceived of as a journey or trek. Interestingly, the names of MHC’s characters call to mind themes of "traveling"/"motion towards" or "redemption," but do so in a slightly skewed manner, as if mirroring the way in which the historical data of MHC are a half-pace out of step with those of our world. Consider the German characters of the novel. The name of Wegener causes the reader to think of the German noun der Weg ("way" or "path"). While meaningless in German, Wegener nonetheless implies a "wayfarer" or "voyager," and the term "way" is significant to the novel.17 "Baynes" sounds very similar to die Bahn ("road"), and "Lotze" calls to mind the word der Lotse ("pilot"; more figuratively, "guide").18 Perhaps the surname of Robert Childan could be included in this category. Here the "child" alludes to what is perhaps the most seminal utterance of the novel, where Tagomi muses on the efficacy of the Edfrank triangle: "When I was a child I thought as a child. But now I have put away childish things" (§14:213). In this passage Dick summarizes directly from Paul’s words at 1 Corinthians 13.11, and it is useful to examine them in their immediate context:

[1 Cor. 13.11] When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I thought as a child, I reasoned as a child. But when I became a man, I abolished the childish things. [12] For today we see through a mirror darkly, but in the future face to face; for today I know in part, but in the future I shall know fully, just as I have been known fully. [13] But now there remains three: faith, hope, and love; and the greatest of these is love. (author’s translation from the Greek)

All the essential factors are present in this passage. There is mention of two realities, the first marked by clouded perception, imperfect knowledge, and an incompletely-formed personality, the second distinguished by a clear and unmediated apprehension of things, total comprehension, and a mature sense of being. There is the stress on knowledge as the vehicle by which the journey is effected, and on the necessity of faith to sustain the hope of redemption.19 Although none of the novel’s five major characters is a perfect example of the conflated and abbreviated type of dualistic cosmology upon which Dick seems to have drawn, the net effect of Dick’s polyphonic plots and narrative is such that a composite and complex thesis is established by means of its component variations.

This necessity of faith is highlighted four times in MHC. When Tagomi and Wegener first meet, the Japanese trade official utters a response to the German’s expression of tiredness: "‘We must all have faith in something.... We cannot know the answers. We cannot see ahead, on our own’" (§5:69). Tagomi suggests that without faith humans are incapable of knowing or seeing the true form of things, but to what is he responding? By any measure, his proclamation seems less a casual, sympathetic reply to Wegener’s weariness than a direct answer to the German’s self-doubts about the feasibility and utility of his mission. Clearly, then, Tagomi’s words can only be understood in this context, although their full import is not revealed until Wegener returns to Berlin and reflects on his past actions. Tagomi and faith again intersect shortly after he has killed the SD assassins. Tagomi enters Childan’s shop with the aim of trading the offensive Colt .44, but Childan will not accept the weapon. Instead, the merchant displays the new Edfrank jewellery (an action that finally gives truth to the name of his store) and asks whether Tagomi is interested. Tagomi hesitates, then accedes, but cannot choose one piece over the rest: "I will buy one of those, whichever you select," he tells Childan. "I have no faith, but I am currently grasping at straws.... I do not believe" (§14:211). Faith is this time identified as a lack of belief, and it is at this moment that Childan gives Tagomi the Edfrank triangle that will be the vehicle of his salvation.

Faith also figures in the origins of the Edfrank jewellery. When Ed McCarthy fails at first to convince Frink to enter a partnership with him, he says, "You have no faith. You’ve completely lost faith in yourself.... Too bad. Because I know you could do it" (§4:50). Frink has lost faith in himself; he has been making forgeries for so long that he has no faith in his ability to create from within himself. Finally, the need for faith is stressed when Juliana sits in a diner and ponders Joe Cinnadella and the odd psychological constitution of the SS cadres. She reckons that Joe lacks their "cold but somehow enthusiastic look," as if they "believed in nothing yet had absolute faith" (§3:38). The Nazis of MHC are model children of the sensible world, having faith in themselves but devoid entirely of belief—for in what can an individual believe when the very world around him or her is subject ultimately to interpretation? There is no universal or moral center by which things may be gauged. The great tragedy of the sensible world is that there is no link between the self and the divine, no connection between the physical body and the intelligible realm. As Dick emphasizes repeatedly, the self and all things within the world are measured and beheld by outside criteria alone. The self mistakenly perceives itself to be the prime agent and touchstone of all things, and this is why the Nazi hierarchy comes closest to epitomizing existence in a state of Sin:

[The Nazis] want to be the agents, not the victims, of history. They identify with God’s power and believe they are godlike. That is their basic madness. They are overcome by some archetype; their egos have expanded psychotically so that they cannot tell where they begin and the godhead leaves off. It is not hubris, not pride; it is inflation of the ego to its ultimate—confusion between him who worships and that which is worshiped. Man has not eaten God; God has eaten man. (§3:43)

Those persons in the sensible world have not yet discarded the things of the child, nor have they come to realize that they see reality imperfectly. They mistake the mundane for the divine, worshipping the idol itself rather than the godhead, the created rather than the creator. Dick quotes Mark 8.36: "What profit it a man if he gain the whole world but in this enterprise lose his soul?" (§1:17). As both Wegener and Paul the apostle assert, one must have hope and faith to trust that there is something beyond this realm of shadow and illusion, but it is knowledge that awakens one to his or her state, thereby fulfilling this trust and leading upward.

Such a bold assertion is made early in MHC, when Wegener muses on the relationship between himself and Lotze. Wegener wonders,

Am I racially kin to this man? So closely that for all intents and purposes it is the same? Then it is in me, too, the psychotic streak. A psychotic world we live in. How long have we known this? Faced this? And—how many of us do know it? Not Lotze. Perhaps if you know you are insane then you are not insane. Or are you becoming sane, finally. Waking up. I suppose only a few are aware of all this. Isolated persons here and there. But the broad masses ... what do they think? All those hundreds of thousands in this city, here. Do they imagine that they live in a sane world? Or do they guess, glimpse, the truth.... ? (§3:41, italics added)

So long as the world in which one lives is never challenged, there can be no awakening, no realization or understanding of one’s state. Dick takes pains to demonstrate that this statement is true whether one considers the sensible world corporately or any of its constituent elements. Pondering what to do with himself after losing his job, Frink begins to reflect on the making of fake artifacts. He wonders what would happen if ever the bubble burst and someone began to investigate the mass frauds such as the artifact industry (§4:50). It is not merely a case of the forgeries causing a real devaluation of the genuine objects,20 although this is Dick’s point as well, since he cites Gresham explicitly. What is more important, though, is that the very system itself permits and even fosters such practices, and does this so insidiously and pervasively that it becomes normative. This is the presupposition that underlies the trenchant question that Frink poses to Childan after the revelation that Childan’s collection of antique weapons was phony: "Is it possible, sir, that you, the owner, the dealer in such items, cannot distinguish the forgeries from the real?" (4:56, italics in original). Some time afterward, when Childan and McCarthy are discussing the possibility that the Edfrank items might be displayed in his store, Childan remembers the episode where the phonies were exposed and what this revelation did to him personally. He recalls that "he no longer viewed his stock with the same reverence" and that the shock of discovering that some of it was fake felt as if someone had suddenly questioned the validity of his birth certificate (9:133). Childan suddenly fathoms that everything under the whole scheme is suspect, for that which by nature relies on external criteria for its validity can also be challenged or negated by the same criteria. This is the same argument that Dick presents in the Bob Hope joke about the Nazis and the Jews on Mars—it is all a question of documentation, a matter of representation. Childan, however, gains a vital bit of knowledge (i.e., perspective) and so manages to wake up to this state of affairs, if only imperfectly at this point, and thus recognizes that even something as fundamental as the issue of one’s own birth can be subject to interpretation and questioning under the rules of the world in which he presently operates.

As it goes for Childan, so does it also for each of the other major characters of MHC. Each one moves towards redemption, a process that normally begins with the realization by faith and/or through knowledge that one exists in a world both imperfect and imperfectly perceived, continues on in one’s struggle to do the correct thing despite inimical circumstances and inner conflict, and culminates in a selfless, salvational act.21 No one character’s personal journey towards redemption is exactly like another’s, but there are significant overlaps. Juliana and Wegener undertake physical, spatial journeys—Juliana to visit Abendsen and Wegener to meet General Tedeki. Juliana and Frink were once married, while his and Tagomi’s paths cross in the matter of Frink’s extradition. Tagomi and Wegener are associated intimately by Operation Dandelion, the Nazi plan for a nuclear attack against Japan, and Tagomi, Frink, and Childan are affected by the strange Edfrank jewellery. Indeed, both Frink and Childan are touched deeply by the problem of phony and authentic artifacts, and it is partly in the recognizing and solving of that dilemma that they find their redemption. Tagomi, Childan, and Juliana suffer heavily as they come to realize their place under the aegis of Sin, while Wegener, Juliana, and Childan are associated with the idea of transmitting information.

Childan appears at the novel’s opening and quickly proves himself to be a bigoted and boorish collaborator. He fits in well with PSA life and regards many of the Nazi policies with favor. He earns his living by catering to his Japanese overlords and has been involved not only in the willing pillaging and exploitation of American culture, but also in the redaction of this culture to little more than a collection of pop-art curios. But once Frink informs him that some of his stock is forged, faint cracks suddenly appear in the veneer of his reality, causing him to worry about the solidity of his everyday life and to suffer internally. As Kasoura says, "Religions such as Christian often declare there must be sin to account for suffering" (§7:108). Childan’s worldview receives another jolt when he later visits the Kasouras’ apartment. Perhaps for the first time in his life, he manages to understand his surroundings. Though his prejudices do not vanish, he is able nonetheless to step outside the world with which he has hitherto been familiar, if only for a moment. What he sees is that, contrary to his previous assumptions, the Japanese possess little more than a pack-rat culture, borrowing ideas and artifacts from other cultures and aping them to perfection. Childan thinks, "These people are not exactly human. They don the dress but they’re like monkeys dolled up in the circus. They’re clever and can learn, but that is all"22 (§7:108, italics in original). By questioning Japanese canons of valuation and worth, Childan begins to consider himself in reference to that small part of the sensible world he has managed to identify. He asks himself, "Why do I cater to them?" and concludes that it is a choice, that there always has been a choice, but he has always chosen the easier of two evils. Where action was required, he was passive; where recognition of one’s true identity was needed, he chose only to judge himself by external criteria, and by those of others, to boot. It is as if a cloud had been lifted from his eyes, his thoughts echoing the words of Paul the apostle—"We must grow up" (§7:108).

The next step in Childan’s redemption takes place after Ed McCarthy leaves the Edfrank jewellery to be sold on consignment at Childan’s store. At first Childan thinks he might be able to use the striking originality of the pieces to mark up their prices, but

...there was another notion circulating and growing in the back of Robert Childan’s mind. With these, there’s no problem of authenticity. And that problem may someday wreck the historic American artifacts industry. Not today or tomorrow—but after that, who knows. (§9:137, italics in original)

Childan suddenly glimpses the power of the Edfrank object, which, like the logos, functions as the in-breaking expression of another world. The germ of this revolutionary idea blossoms to its full flower when the antiques-dealer meets Kasoura again, this time in the latter’s office. Kasoura has taken the Edfrank piece that Childan meant for Betty and displayed it to a number of his business acquaintances. While these men, Kasoura tells Childan, did nothing but laugh openly at the artifact, he found that he was strangely drawn to it. Kasoura remarks that the object is "balanced," and possesses wu, having "made its peace with the universe [and] come to homeostasis." The Edfrank piece "represents nothing" and conforms to no external standards of design. It is completely disconnected from the sensible world, an object of "content, deprived of form" and immune to human attempts to project meaning into it. It exists—to ov, if one prefers—and nothing else (§11:163).

To be fair, the same thing might be said of the Tao. However, there are differences that cause one to think that Dick had dualistic Christian categories at least partly in mind. First, the Tao is often compared to the uncarved block of wood that partakes naturally of the Tao by virtue of its being uncarved. The Edfrank piece, for all its amorphousness, is a handmade object and as such has been subject to human mediation. Second, there is a redemptive element present in the journeys of the five protagonists that simply cannot be understood solely in Taoist terms. I noted how this idea of journeying and Dick’s consistent use of "way"-language give shape to MHC. Both Taoism and Christianity are the "Way," but it seems that Dick uses the term mostly in its transitive, motion-towards sense that better echoes its Christian applications than its static, Taoist nuances.23

With respect to the concept of wu, Huntington contrasts it with the idea of "aura," which he claims is like Wyndam-Matson’s "historicity": "Aura belongs to history and is liable to imitation and fraud; wu is an absolute aesthetic value, a universal outside of history, an intrinsic quality that cannot be imitated" (157). Citing Needham, Warrick classifies wu as "letting things work out their destinies in accord with their intrinsic principles," a concept opposed by wei, which involves "forcing things in the interests of private gain, without regard to their intrinsic principles and relying on the authority of others" (182). These ideas of wu and wei find parallels in the language and presuppositions of the intelligible and sensible worlds, and the roles that dualistic cosmologies play in MHC thus make it likely that Dick required the intrinsic meaning of wu to be understood in the light of the contrast and conflict between these two worlds. But there is more here than meets the eye. Considering the Edfrank object, Kasoura observes further,

"To have no historicity, and also no artistic, aesthetic worth, and yet to partake of some ethereal value—that is a marvel. Just precisely because this is a miserable, small, worthless-looking blob; that, Robert, contributes to its possessing wu. For it is a fact that wu is customarily found in least imposing places, as in the Christian aphorism, "stones rejected by the builder." One experiences awareness of wu in such trash as an old stick, or a rusty beer can by the side of the road. However, in those cases, the wu is within the viewer. It is a religious experience. Here, an artificer has put wu into the object, rather than merely witnessing the wu inherent in it... In other words, an entire new world is pointed to, by this. The name for it is neither art, for it has no form, nor religion. What is it? I have pondered this pin unceasingly, yet cannot fathom it. We evidently lack the word for an object like this. So you are right, Robert. It is authentically a new thing on the face of the world." (§11:164)

"Stones24 rejected by the builder" is an allusion to Psalms 118.22-23, which was commandeered by the early Christians and applied to Jesus’ role as the agent of salvation.25 Given that such a connection between the Taoist references to wu and a Christian proof-text is not remotely implied by either body of sacred literature, it follows that this is an overt clue that Dick deliberately framed MHC in Christian terms. Indeed, the Edfrank piece functions less as an incarnation of a Taoist concept than it does as an invasive fragment of the intelligible realm, since Kasoura speaks of "an entire new world" opened by this authentic, formless artifact. The experience so moved Kasoura that he felt the overwhelming desire to compel his business acquaintances to understand this insight. This last point is crucial. Paul Kasoura, having been enlightened and now converted26 to the perspective of the new realm, has gone on to spread the good news. This, in its basics, is the exact experience related of Paul the apostle. Kasoura then foists the Edfrank piece on Childan and insists that he shoulder responsibility: "Robert, you must face reality with more courage" (§11:165). Childan is now under obligation. It is also worth noting that throughout this scene Childan exhibits great psychological and emotional anguish. His inner core rebels against his newfound knowledge of the sensible world, and so he suffers.

The dialogue that follows is one of the oddest in the entire novel. Kasoura off-handedly informs Childan that one of these acquaintances imports mass-produced objects. Childan hesitates, thinking that Kasoura’s earlier comments on wu conflict with the implication that Childan submit the Edfrank pieces to the ignominy of the assembly line. Slusser, who realizes that the Edfrank piece is "not a new world, but points to a new world" (195), assumes that Kasoura wants Childan to mass-produce the object, thereby bringing it into the sensible world27 and according it historicity. This view that Kasoura desires mass-production is echoed by Carter (334), Huntington (157), and Rabkin (168). Warrick, however, interprets the scene correctly, observing that Kasoura simply "verbalizes the alternatives Childan faces" (184). Childan arrives at the cusp of full perception when he thinks to himself:

He’s [Kasoura’s] actually saying: Which are you Robert? He whom the oracle calls "the inferior man" or that other for whom all the good advice is meant? Must decide, here. You may trot on one way or the other, but not both. Moment of choice now. (§11:167-68)

Yet old ways are not easily overcome, and Childan, feeling that one ought not to buck larger forces, accedes to Paul’s suggestion. Strangely, Paul does not appear pleased with Childan’s decision, and instead asks whether the Edfrank artisans would be willing to play along. Does Paul ask this in a moment of despair, overcome by Childan’s refusal to comprehend, or is this Kasoura’s last-ditch, didactic effort to force Childan into action? Whatever the case, Childan responds by defending the inimitable quality of the jewelery and American craft in general, and forces Kasoura to apologize for his suggestion, which is exactly what the Japanese does. With this action Childan is redeemed from the sensible world; he has overcome its power and has transcended its limitations.28 As Childan remarks, it is the "Grace of God" (§11:170).

Like Childan, Frink is presented at the start of the novel as a disagreeable type, but where Childan was at least something of a self-made entrepreneur, Frink is nothing more than a petty drone who contemplates blackmail in order to get revenge. Yet it is this scheme to blackmail his former employer that provides a beginning to his journey, since it forces him to re-examine his previous occupation as forger. Frink observes that he and his co-workers "just shut their minds to what they made, kept their attention on the mere technical problems" (§4:50, italics in original). Essentially, the W-M Corporation turned Frink the artist/creator into Frink the technician/copier. McCarthy tells him as much when he argues that they are judging themselves by the criterion of others: "I think you’ve picked up the Nazi idea that Jews can’t create" (§4:50). Next, McCarthy launches into that speech where he argues that Frink has lost his faith in himself and his craft. In response, Frink consults the oracle and receives an ambivalent answer. Yet it is not the oracle that propels him to accept the offer, but the realization that he has arrived at a crossroads in his life much like the one at which Childan stands when he confronts Kasoura. Frink contemplates the tidal bore of history, the outward manifestations of the sensible world that force better persons than himself to accept the status quo and be carried along with the current. Meanwhile, he wonders whether an individual can proceed along a different but perhaps more righteous path, difficult as this may be (§4:53). He decides to join McCarthy. Later, the independence of Frink’s choice from the ambiguity of the oracle is confirmed: "the die was cast: the pieces were made, the shop set up—whatever the I Ching might blab out at this point. It can’t sell our jewelry ... it can’t give us luck" (§9:125, italics in original).

Frink and McCarthy find themselves pioneering new ground, as if their efforts to establish their workshop, their search to obtain the best and most precise tools, and their production of artifacts of the highest quality and originality were somehow paradigmatic of the revitalization of American industriousness. They labor to craft superior pieces, and for the first time their innate abilities are made manifest. Yet Frink’s doubts remain; unlike Childan or Tagomi, he does not seem to have the stamina to sustain his faith. He wonders, "What if it should fail? ... Suppose Ed doesn’t sell a thing. Suppose they laugh at us. What then?" (§9:129, italics in original). Then, when no store appears interested in the Edfrank jewellery, he quits the partnership outright. It also is at this time that he is apprehended by the police and held pending extradition to Nazi-occupied territory. Although Frink’s moment of physical salvation results when Tagomi refuses to sign the warrant, this is the crucial moment in Tagomi’s life, not Frink’s. Rather, Frink’s moment of spiritual redemption occurs shortly after his release, when by his actions he verifies fully the choice he had made earlier. Frink follows the overwhelming and liberating compulsion of the calling of his heart and returns to McCarthy, resuming where he had left off and creating new jewellery from old stock pieces.29 To convey this idea of a rebirth, Dick employs language and themes that might well have been lifted straight from the New Testament. When McCarthy first spies his returned partner, he says, "‘I had the impression you were dead’" (§14:224). Likewise, Frink reflects on his release from prison, thinking that it had been a "miracle": "New life, he thought, Like being reborn. Like, hell. Is" (§14:224, italics in original). For Frink, it has been a "miracle"; for Robert Childan, the "grace of God." Both men are saved.

Mr. Tagomi is a functionary who worries about what he should bring to meetings, which artifact he should purchase, and how he should greet visiting foreign dignitaries. Unlike Childan and Frink, he is not initially repellent to the average reader; yet, like them, he is asked to select a path on which he will travel. The decision, however, is not simply between those who oppose and those who favor Operation Dandelion. Warrick identifies this decision as Tagomi’s "moment of choice" and argues that Tagomi is a superior man who is trapped by unacceptable alternatives. Forced to decide between these two evils, Tagomi kills the assassins who have come for Wegener (an opponent of Dandelion) and so tumbles into complete moral chaos (§12:184-185). All of this is sound exegesis, but Tagomi’s decision on Dandelion, although undeniably important, is not redemptive. In fact, one of the more problematic aspects of the novel is that both Tagomi and Juliana are forced to do evil in order to combat evil. Neither Tagomi’s killing of the assassins nor Juliana’s murder of Cinnadella are redemptive, but when Tagomi refuses to sign Frink’s extradition papers, his journey towards redemption is brought to a close.

Like Childan, Tagomi journeys down a path dotted by milestones marking how his psyche suffers as his inner self is revealed and conflicts with the sensible world. When he and Wegener meet, Tagomi’s inner voice wants to explore the implication of Nazi racial policies but is quelled by Wegener’s claim that he is a Swede and so is neither involved nor implicated in Nazi policies. He accepts Wegener’s argument and apologizes: "Philosophical involvement blinded me to authentic human fact" (§5:72). In a sentence Dick highlights the dilemma of life in the sensible world. The reader knows that Wegener is really a German and is on a mission that touches directly on Tagomi’s concerns. Tagomi may intuit these facts in some internal way, but allows external sense-data—Wegener’s insistence that he is a Swede—to override this intuition. Tagomi’s inner voice is not completely subsumed, however. He tells Wegener outright that he was impressed by the Japanese refusal to honor the request to exterminate the Shanghai Jews: "Such is not in accord with humanitarian considerations" (§5:72). Likewise, he commits the first selfless act of the novel by not reporting Mr. Yatabe to the Pension Board for what amounts to a pecuniary violation. It is true that Tagomi does not yet know that Yatabe is actually Tedeki or that a petty pension infraction is the last thing on the mind of the former Imperial Chief of Staff. This is basically unimportant, though; with this act Tagomi rejects the fundamental arbitrariness of mandatory ages, Pension Boards, and administrative bureaucracies in general. In short, he does the right thing.

The first manifestation of the clash between Tagomi’s inner self and the outer world occurs in response to Bormann’s death. Tagomi and other officials are summoned to an embassy meeting, where they are greeted by a Foreign Ministry type who presents them with an overview of the likely contenders for the position of Reichs Chancellor. During this meeting, Tagomi finds himself growing ill as the candidates are individually described in detail: Goering, Goebbels, Heydrich, von Schirach. After the Foreign Ministry man finishes his analysis of Dr. Seyss-Inquart, Tagomi can stand no more:

I have to get out of here: I am having an attack. My body is throwing up things or spurting them out—I am dying. He scrambled to his feet, pushed down the aisle past other chairs and people. He could hardly see. Get to lavatory. He ran up the aisle. (§6:91, italics added)

Hitherto a bureaucrat satisfied with the order of things, Tagomi discovers that the detailed exposition of the Nazi leaders now clashes with something inside him. He has eaten from the tree of knowledge, so to speak, and the food has made him violently sick. Themes that run through MHC surface most violently in the language of this passage—Tagomi feels as if he were "dying," and he has begun to realize that he can "hardly see." Desperate to regain his balance, he grasps at the familiar criteria of the sensible world: "Think along reassuring lines," he tells himself, "Recall order of world...The finite, finite world..." (§6:92). But this newfound awareness is not easily shunted aside. He thinks to himself, "There is evil! It’s actual like cement!" (§6:92). Tagomi’s dilemma is that he cannot see the way; he wants desperately to act correctly, but cannot grasp by what criteria such decisions are made.

Knowledge of the real nature of this world again imposes itself in Tagomi’s conscious when Tedeki and Wegener finally meet in his office. When Tagomi greets Tedeki, the sight of the old man apparently causes him to regress into familiar patterns of interpretation, and he imagines that his external features are somehow archetypical of all the values of the ancient Japanese traditions. Then, as if a switch had been thrown, Tagomi sees that he is not addressing an old man of his own interpretive creation, but General Tedeki, once Imperial Chief of Staff. And Tagomi’s world reels. Later, while listening to the conversation between the two military men, Tagomi is forced to contemplate a plan that would lend support to the hated and feared Heydrich in order to thwart Dandelion. Overwhelmed with the ramifications of this situation, Tagomi again contemplates his dilemma: "Evil... Yes, it is. Are we to assist it in gaining power, in order to save our lives? [cf. Mark 8.36] Is that the paradox of our earthly situation? ... That man should have to act in such moral ambiguity. There is no Way in this; all is muddled. All chaos of dark and light, shadow and substance" (§12:177). The critical idea here is that there is no "way" to resolve internally the inherent paradoxes and ambiguities of the "earthly" system within the restrictions of that system. All of a sudden, a pair of SD assassins burst into the office, but Tagomi shoots them down with his prized Colt .44. Soon after, Tagomi becomes mentally and physically incapacitated and consults the oracle in an attempt to make sense of his deed.

The conflict in Tagomi’s heart reaches its climax the next day when, instead of reporting to work, he decides to visit Childan’s store. He has comprehended more fully the nature of his existence and knows that the previous day’s experience has made him (echoing Paul the apostle) "into a child" (§14:207). The restrictions of the sensible world are clearer to him now: the affair of the assassins might be forgotten by the office staff and the office itself might be straightened, but Tagomi the person remains. No amount of interpretation, dissembling, or explanation could wash away his sin. Even the oracle, just as it had been with Frink in his time of personal suffering, was enigmatic and useless. As Tagomi later recalls, it simply did not seem to understand his dilemma (§14:207). Tagomi enters Childan’s store with the purpose of swapping the offensive Colt, but Childan refuses to accept it. Tagomi then recognizes that Childan is somehow different, as if his inner state had been altered subtly. Tagomi confirms this feeling after he initially refuses the opportunity to purchase the new Edfrank jewellery:

...And yet for me they [the Edfrank pieces] are just scraps. I cannot become rapt, as Mr. R. Childan, here. Unfortunately, for both of us. But that is the case.

"Quite lovely," he murmured, laying down the pieces.

Mr. Childan said in a forceful voice, "Sir, it does not occur all at once."


"The new view in your heart."

"You are converted," Mr. Tagomi said. "I wish I could be. I am not." He bowed. (§14:210)

The language of a "new view" in one’s heart and "converted" leave little doubt that Dick is communicating in basic Christian terminology.

Before he departs, Tagomi accepts an object from Childan, a small silver Edfrank triangle. Desperate to obtain peace, Tagomi tries to force the triangle to divulge its secrets, but to no avail—the mystery cannot be apprehended by the senses (§14:214). Tagomi then recalls the words of 1 Corinthians 13 concerning the difference between seeing things like a child and perceiving them as an adult. This leads to an effort of intense concentration wherein the triangle glows and Tagomi sees not with his physical eyes and in the sunlight of the day, but by means of the spiritual or rational "eye"30 and in the bright, white light of reason.31 For a moment Tagomi’s consciousness enters the intelligible domain, which is described like a "high realm" (14:214) and a "vertical ascent" (§14:214). But the experience is short-lived; the triangle ceases glowing and Tagomi is drawn back into the sensible world, this time into that of GLH. Clearly, the brief waxing and waning of the triangle’s brilliance symbolize Tagomi’s entrance and exit from the intelligible realm. Just before the light disappears, Tagomi thinks, "I must not shrink from the clear white light, for if I do, I will once more reenter the cycle of birth and death, never knowing freedom, never obtaining release. The veil of maya [illusion] will fall once more if I—" (§14:214-15).

With the vanishing of the light, Tagomi finds himself transported to a place unfamiliar to him. Bewildered at the sights and sounds of the horrible place and unsure of what has transpired, he rushes back to where he had left his briefcase and the pin and once more engages it with his intellect. While "en route" he places into perspective his earlier musings:

He peeped about. Diffusion subsided, in all probability. Now one appreciates Saint Paul’s incisive word choice ... seen through glass darkly not a metaphor, but astute reference to optical distortion. We really do see astigmatically, in fundamental sense: our space and our time creations of our own psyche, and when these momentarily falter—like acute disturbance of middle ear. (§14:217)

Soon after, Tagomi arrives at his office and finds the abortive assassination has been tidied up—"No one would know who hadn’t seen," he muses (§14:219). The German consul, Reiss, awaits him, eager to allow the whole matter to disappear. Tagomi, however, is not cooperating. He has made his choice to live correctly, to disregard the fallibility of opinion and the senses in favor of individual acts of righteousness. When Reiss suggests that things resume a "business-as-usual" status, Tagomi responds with an indictment of Nazi factional intrigue. "Repent!" he says to Reiss, as if suddenly transformed into a modern-day John the Baptist. The consul argues that he is being held "responsible for general conditions beyond my jurisdiction," but Tagomi will not allow the objection. "Chicken shit," he says to Reiss, "I say that to that" (§14:222). The redemptive nexus for Tagomi finally comes when he authorizes the release of Frink (whom he has never met) from deportation to Nazi territory and extermination. Soon afterwards, Tagomi suffers a heart attack. Does Tagomi sacrifice his life to save Frink’s? Whatever the answer, Tagomi’s action is the response to Frink’s question about what one person can do to stem the tide: to identify and do the right thing, whatever the cost or however desperate or hopeless things might appear.32 In extremis, Tagomi recalls the response that the oracle gave him after he shot the SD men—"Inner Truth." But this is the first time that we hear the actual reply that Tagomi had considered equivocal and useless. The oracle, which is an external frame of reference (so claims Tedeki), spits forth the one reply—"seek inwards"—that validates the response for Tagomi but self-invalidates the oracle as a whole. As the scene ends, Paul’s words about understanding, the oracle, and Tagomi’s inner self are in harmony. He is dying perhaps, but Tagomi is finally at peace.

Rudolf Wegener is one of the most interesting and complex of all of Dick’s fictional characters. Often he is left so undeveloped that he appears almost stock, but at other times he is capable of accepting the most subtle of Dick’s brush-strokes. After that early conversation with Lotze, Wegener nearly disappears from the foreground of the novel’s action, the only exception being his brief but vital initial meeting with Mr. Tagomi. Instead, in the tradition of the Greek playwrights, Dick utilizes the character primarily as an off-stage catalyst who provides the propulsive force behind the action but is rarely seen or heard directly.33 Although Wegener never experiences either a dramatic conversion (like Kasoura) or a series of revelatory experiences (like Childan and Tagomi), he symbolizes the already-converted one who must pass on the message to others. We have seen this prominent theme already in the persons of Kasoura and Childan, both of whom were converted and so were under obligation to evangelize.34 Accordingly, if Wegener’s mission is crucial to the journeys of most of the other protagonists, his role as messenger is equally critical to the nature and unfolding of his mission. Moreover, the necessity of faith and hope, other important themes of the novel, is highlighted when Wegener reappears in Chapter Ten. Having waited a fortnight for the arrival of Tedeki, Wegener has lost much "morale and hope" (§10:141). Reckoning that Bormann’s death means that his orders have been superceded, he loses faith and contacts a local agent to have a message sent to Berlin asking for further instructions. But this strategy backfires, for Tedeki arrives the next day. Meanwhile, the police have had the agent under surveillance and have identified Wegener as Baynes. From this information the SD will launch the attack on the office building that will eventually result in Tagomi’s shooting the two assassins. But Wegener does not know this; nothing matters to him except the successful completion of the mission. Jubilant at the news of Tedeki’s arrival, he jumps into the shower and there belts out lines from Schubert’s "Der Erlkönig," a song based on a Goethe ballad: "Who rides so late through the night and wind?/ It is the father with his child" (§10:155).35

When Wegener meets Tedeki and communicates the existence and particulars of Dandelion, this is the moment of redemption not only for Wegener, but also perhaps a hope of redemption for the German people as well. His journey to spread the news of Dandelion is a national endeavor from the point when he wonders if he is racially kin to a German like Lotze. The topic of the redemption of at least some of the German people runs like a groundswell throughout the novel and resurfaces overtly in the penultimate scene of MHC, where Wegener is met at Tempelhof by friendly Waffen-SS men and is shuffled off to the safety of Heydrich’s stronghold. Despite the risks of returning, Wegener is relieved: "My own Volk, he thought; you and I, together again" (§15:207/246). Soon after, Wegener mulls over his part in relaying the news of Dandelion to Tedeki and ponders the efficacy of action:

No wonder Mr. Tagomi could not go on... The terrible dilemma of our lives. Whatever happens, it is evil beyond compare. Why struggle, then? Why choose? If all alternatives are the same...

Evidently we go on, as we always have. From day to day. At this moment we work against Operation Dandelion. Later on, at another moment, we work to defeat the police. But we cannot do it all at once; it is a sequence. An unfolding process. We can only control the end by making a choice at each step.

He thought, We can only hope. And try. On some other world, possibly it is different. Better. There are clear good and evil alternatives. Not these obscure admixtures, these blends, with no proper tool by which to untangle the components. (§15:227)

Wegener admits the possibility of a new order and confesses that through hope —to recall again the words of 1 Corinthians 13—there is a realm that operates on the basis of more than the illusion of mere personal construct. Simultaneously, Wegener’s thoughts confirm Tagomi’s own self-sacrificial response to Frank Frink’s philosophical question regarding how one should lead his or her life in a world where it is always easier to be carried along with the current. In the end, Wegener is satisfied that he has done the correct thing:36 "It goes on ... The internecine hate... They will eat one another at last, and leave the rest of us here and there in the world, still alive. Still enough of us once more to build and hope and make a few simple plans" (§15:228).

Critics of MHC have largely considered Juliana Frink to be its wildcard character. Her dialogue with the other protagonists is negligible, and Suvin identifies her as the center of the "locomotive plot" of the novel (10). She is MHC’s only meaningful female character,37 and possesses a strength of will to rival Wegener’s. It is in this respect that we see how Juliana fits into the book as a whole, for, like Wegener, Juliana’s journey towards redemption includes a spatial and spiritual trek to visit Abendsen, the Man in the High Castle. Along the way she meets Joe Cinnadella, the assassin masquerading as an Italian truck driver, and almost all of her journey is accomplished in his company. As with Childan, Frink, and Tagomi, Juliana is slowly exposed to the superficiality of the sensible world, and much of her trip involves coming to understand the real nature of things, not excepting Joe’s true identity. She meets him at a roadside diner, where he and another carter chat with Juliana about politics and race. Juliana then slips into the long reflection on the faith-without-belief of the Nazis that leads her to ponder the origins and nature of the Nazi system itself. In the world of MHC, Hitler still lives, and although locked away in a sanitarium, his insane babbling is still regarded by the hierarchy as scripture. Perhaps the ultimate expression of power in the sensible world, Hitler’s senseless gabble has become the bedrock on which the Nazi superstructure rests.

Through the conversation between Juliana and Joe, the reader learns details both of the Axis victory and of the world of GLH, a copy of which Juliana finds in Joe’s possession and eventually reads. Juliana finds her new lover enigmatic; he defends the conduct of the war but agrees that America would have been better off had it won. Later she discovers that he is not a truck driver at all, but a professional bodyguard, hired to protect the rigs from hijackers. Suddenly Juliana sees Joe in a new light, as clues past and present drop into place. Joe was not some Italian grunt who trudged his way unthinkingly through the war—he is a trained killer who was awarded the Iron Cross Second Class and was a member of a special group that was designed to combat the elite British LRDP Commandos. The knife that appeared magically in his hand tips her off, but instead of accepting what her inner self was telling her about him, she returns to her fantasy and concludes that he was some "low-class wop laboring slob" (§9:132) looking to spend his savings on some spree. Juliana has a vision of herself that is based on the opinion of others (cf. Frink’s view that she has a "neurotic fear of the masculine" [§9:132]), and hence she shoehorns Joe into this self-identity.

En route to Abendsen’s, Juliana reads more from GLH and finds that the quarreling between the Allies—greed, fear, and suspicion—is no different from that between the Nazis and Japanese of Juliana’s world. When Joe says, "It’s all darkness. Nothing is true or certain" (§10:152), he is not referring only to the world of MHC. Another of Dick’s hints about the unreliability of the external world is Joe’s hair, which begins as a nest of the tight, black curls that is somewhat stereotypical of the Italian. But Joe scratches at his scalp in almost every episode they share; it is as if the conflict that is becoming apparent to Juliana between his external appearance (Italian truck driver) and his inner self (Nazi assassin) has also become manifest in his body. Joe is beginning to reject the truck-driving persona that he has been forced to don. The moment that he has his hair cut (which removes the false black hairpiece, thereby restoring his hair’s natural blond color), he stops scratching. Meanwhile, Juliana has also undergone a makeover at his direction; unknown to her, Joe wants to create a "type" of woman to whom, his intelligence sources predict, Abendsen will respond favorably.

In their hotel room in Denver, Juliana realizes finally that Joe is an assassin sent to execute Abendsen. As with Tagomi, who discovered that his body disagreed violently with the truth that consumed him, Juliana can barely function as this knowledge penetrates her consciousness and the drama unfolds around her. Her suffering becomes unbearable as the truth seeps into her soul; she staggers around and thinks, "Punishment. Married to a Jew and shacking up with a Gestapo assassin ... For all I have committed" (§13:197). As Kasoura says, suffering exists to account for the presence of sin. Distraught, ill, and only half-aware of her actions, Juliana stumbles into the shower, cleansing herself and stripping off her clothes in an action highly reminiscent of an adult baptism, wherein one washes off the sins of the old world and is reborn in a new one. Then, again like Tagomi, Juliana commits deliberate murder, slicing open Joe’s neck with a razor blade and leaving him for dead. Immediately afterwards, she consults the oracle as to what should be the next course of action, but unlike Tagomi, who concludes that oracle’s advice is both ambiguous and useless, Juliana interprets the responses to mean that she must proceed with her trip and meet Abendsen.

Is Juliana, unlike Tagomi, able to make sense of the oracle at this critical point because she has taken on a chthonic nature akin to the Edfrank triangle? Abendsen labels her thus, calling her a daemon operating on instinct, "simply expressing her being" (§15:238). Perhaps she can now do what Tagomi was only able to accomplish at the last, namely, to mold the oracle to her inner self. The oracle’s response appears to have no connection with Abendsen himself, though two stanzas could summarize the redemptive journeys in toto: "It furthers one/ To undertake something/ It furthers one to cross the great water," and "One must resolutely make the matter known/ At the court of the king/ It must be announced truthfully" (§13:201). Far more curious is the answer Juliana obtains to the question she poses to the oracle while in Abendsen’s home. It is "Inner Truth," the same reply that Tagomi receives. Some commentators of MHC have criticized this final scene of the novel as being superfluous or a mistake.38 John Rieder, however, has demonstrated brilliantly that the final scene is critical to the novel and that Juliana’s interpretation of the answer (that is, that GLH is true) is unsupported by the hexagram itself. But I would argue it is also unsupported by the question. Juliana had asked, "Oracle, why did you write The Grasshopper Lies Heavy? What are we supposed to learn?" (§15:237). The answer to the question, regardless of whether Juliana labels or interprets it correctly, is "Inner Truth." As we have noted in Tagomi’s case, this is the only answer that is verifiable and self-invalidating at the same time. Moreover, "Inner Truth" is also the answer to the philosophical question posed by the entire novel. This is the knowledge that each major character gains on his or her way to redemption, the hallmark of the intelligible world and the antithesis of the sensible one.

Abendsen, however, does not comprehend the referent, but takes the reply and particularizes it, asking whether his book is true (§15:237). Juliana’s answers to his questions are laconic, a mirror image of Kasoura’s responses when he was attempting to help Childan gain the truth. Then Juliana adds, "Even you don’t face it." Does she mean that GLH is real, or that "Inner Truth" is the real answer to her question? Consider what occurs next:

For a time he considered. His gaze had become empty, Juliana saw. Turned inward, she realized. Preoccupied, by himself ... and then his eyes became clear again; he grunted, started.

"I’m not sure of anything," he said.

"Believe," said Juliana. (§15:237)

Like Childan, Abendsen experiences the moment of revelation by means of an enlightening, liberating dialogue. Time and again Dick has indicated that the world of GLH is no different categorically from that of MHC or, indeed, ours. In fact, the reader knows that the histories of both worlds are false. The above passage therefore makes more sense if the referent is not GLH but the phrase "Inner Truth," that is, the in-breaking knowledge that is able to free the self from all restrictions under the power of Sin, and raise it by grace and faith. At the last, Abendsen refuses to believe, but that is inconsequential. Juliana will move on, a chthonic elemental wandering over the face of the earth and bringing knowledge to others so that they, too, may have a chance at salvation.

In summary, MHC is not a systematic theological tractate on the order of VALIS. It is, however, informed by significant amounts of basic Taoist and Christian theology. None of Dick’s other novels comes even close to containing the number of explicit references to Taoism as does MHC, and the importance of these to the understanding of the novel has not been and should not be overlooked. By contrast, the role of basic gnostic theology in MHC has been mostly ignored, and especially the vital part played by Dick’s conflated comprehension of various dualistic philosophies that he employs to frame the redemptive journeys undertaken by each of the novel’s five major characters. These journeys towards salvation sit at the heart of MHC, and therefore to grasp the theological and philosophic context in which they are expressed is to apprehend better the meaning of the novel itself. The question of whether or not there is a providential predestination to personal salvation may have interested the gnostic Christian writers greatly, but it does not seem to have been addressed in MHC. The book is about the hope and possibility of redemption, and about the roles of faith and knowledge. The truly important point is that the themes and language by which all of this is articulated (that is, via the redemptive process or journey) can best be described as basically gnostic. From this perspective of the corpus of Dick’s speculative fiction, MHC represents the first time that Dick makes extensive use in one of his novels of this sort of thought that had hitherto appeared in his earliest novels only in less nuanced and comparatively undeveloped manifestations.39 Moreover, in both content and form the idea of gnostic-style enlightenment or redemption will resurface time and again in Dick’s later novels. This novel therefore bears witness to an important stage in the development of a personal cosmology that has its origins no later than Time Out of Joint (1959) and that continues, in different manifestations, to its full flower in the VALIS trilogy of the early 1980s.


1. See McNelly, Mackey 49-51, and, most importantly, Warrick. References to MHC are to the chapter number, and then to the page number(s) in the Putnam edition of 1962. Thanks are due to an anonymous reviewer, whose careful reading of this paper helped shape several of its finer points.

2. An exception is Le Guin, who quite correctly states that Dick’s "moral vocabulary is Christian, though never explicitly so" (178). By the time of his VALIS novels, this vocabulary is explicitly gnostic Christian and is centered around an understanding of the cosmos that owes as much to Zoroastrian dualism as it does to the Nag Hammadi or the Qumran (Dead Sea Scroll) texts. McNelly writes, "What is even more important than Dick’s use of the I Ching, however, is his creation of a sort of Western equivalent to the ancient book of wisdom" (1325). Rossi notes that Dick’s "religiosity" is situated in "Lutheranism" and "Hebrew mysticism," although he provides no supporting proof for his statement (210 note 13). Luther, of course, began with a close reading of Paul’s epistles. Whatever Rossi means by "Hebrew mysticism" is unclear; Jewish mysticism might be a more fruitful term.

3. Philo was a Jewish philosopher who flourished in the metropolis of Egyptian Alexandria around the time of the emperors Tiberius, Gaius, and Claudius (14-54 C.E.). His philosophy is a unique fusion of Judaism and Plato.

4. 1 Corinthians 13, a few verses of which are central to MHC, is a passage quite seminal to the plot (and title!) of Dick’s 1977 novel, A Scanner Darkly. To draw conclusions about MHC on the basis of a work published fifteen years later, however, would be improper and highly tendentious. On the methodological pitfalls of such endeavors, see my essay, "Reflections on the First Five Novels of Philip K. Dick" (forthcoming).

5. VALIS, The Divine Invasion, and The Transmigration of Timothy Archer. Note also the posthumously-published Radio Free Albemuth (1985). On whether or not they form a trilogy, see F. Scott Walters. Rabkin feels that Dick went "insane" by the time of the VALIS novels (170), a view that Rossi challenges most strenuously (200).

6. The clear links between Time Out Of Joint (1959), MHC, A Scanner Darkly, and the VALIS novels should be the subject of a detailed study of the development of Dick’s use of gnostic categories and (eventually) gnostic theology. But stumbling-blocks abound above and beyond the methodological ones (on which see note 4). Because so many of Dick’s novels revolve around the philosophical question of "What is real?", framing a particular novel’s development and resolution of this issue in Platonic or Gnostic categories often becomes tempting. But it is not enough to label something "Platonic" or "Gnostic" simply on the basis that Dick has his characters realize that they are living and operating in an unreal world. That much needs to be present, to be sure, but it must be accompanied by terminological evidence and by other, more specific clues.

Regarding Time Out Of Joint, note well the stimulating article by Rossi. This novel, published three years earlier than MHC, is a comparatively lesser effort from Dick but perhaps his best work to that date. In some ways it might be called a very early draft of MHC, and there are some interesting parallels between the two novels. For a brief overview of these parallels, see my response to Rossi in Extrapolation 39 (Winter 1998).

7. Any overarching scheme into which all of Paul’s presuppositions and conclusions might neatly fit is difficult to construct. Paul was not a systematic theologian, and what he proposes in one letter might be at odds with what he writes in another. Paul’s theology, to be sure, has to be gleaned from a study of his epistles in toto, but with the recognition that each letter was composed for a particular purpose and was directed to a specific audience. In other words, the consistent Pauline core may be distilled from the overall content of the epistles, but always in the light of their inherently contingent nature.

8. My summary of Paul’s understanding of Sin and redemption is, of course, very brief and without nuances. For fuller treatments, see J.A. Ziesler, Pauline Christianity, revised ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990) and Stephen Westerholm, Israel’s Law and the Church’s Faith (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1988), part II. The idea of separate kosmoi and an in-breaking logos is at the heart of Dick’s VALIS novels.

9. Suvin, 10, insists on four major characters (Wegener excluded), as does Robinson, 47 (he does not name the four). Malmgren, 121, identifies five.

10. Dick writes, "In my novel the protagonist’s comfortable private world is disintegrating and an awful, mystical, puzzling, enormous world is expandingfrom elements already thereto fill the void." See Warrick, 184, quoting from Philip K. Dick: Electric Shepherd, ed. B. Gillespie (Carlton, Victoria: 1975), 33.

11. See also Slusser’s lucid comments on the matter (193-194).

12. Cf. Dick’s previous use of this reference in Time Out of Joint; see also note 6.

13. Robinson, 46-47. His conclusion that "we scarcely notice, at first" the incongruity that it is a Japanese man and not an American one playing the role of gunslinger is not explained. As for Robinson’s second "patriotic moment," that of Childan’s refusal to accept the suggestion that the Edfrank object be mass-produced, see note 28.

14. See especially the valuable comments of Rieder, 217.

15. Another example occurs when Childan is visited by the Kempetai man, who tells Childan that Frank Frink is actually Frank Fink, a Jew. Childan reckons that this makes sense, since "Fink" is a Jewish name and, besides, Frink looked like a Jew (7:110).

Even the settings themselves are not immune to this fluidity. As noted, the questioning engendered on the part of MHC’s protagonists in response to the possibility of an alternate world serves also as a catalyst for similar questions from the reader. By reading in GLH that FDR was not assassinated by Zangara and that the Allies won the war, Juliana, the character who is influenced most heavily by Abendsen’s book, begins to question the solidity of the reality of her world. Likewise, when the reader comes across passages from GLH, the unexpected disparity between the events it describes and those with which he or she is familiar forces the same reaction. Until we read otherwise, our natural inclination is to assume that, since GLH is an account of the Allied Victory in the Second World War, its world and ours must be the same. It comes as a small shock, then, to learn that GLH describes a place where FDR left office after his second term (5:65), where British tanks rather than Russian ones rumbled through the streets of Berlin, and where Adolf Hitler was put on trial in Munich after the war (8:119). What we come to realize, as do Tagomi and Juliana, is that the universes of MHC and GLH are of the same category: neither Sitz im Leben enjoys automatic primacy of authenticity over the other. It is not simply a matter of Dick’s contrasting the world of GLH with that of MHC or, for that matter, comparing both of these realities with ours. When, with the help of the mysterious Edfrank artifact, Tagomi manages to escape briefly the boundaries of MHC, he finds himself not in an otherworldly paradise but in a place that smells, looks, and feels bad, where the neighborhood is overshadowed physically by the monstrous Embarcadero Freeway, and where Japanese persons no longer enjoy status and privilege. Moreover, there is nothing in either the text or the context of this important scene that tells us whether Tagomi is in GLH’s world or in ours. Movement between realities, as both Tagomi and Juliana discover, is lateral. All it does is alter one’s exterior point of view, the same action that is symptomatic of all life in the sensible world.

A final clue resides in the title of Abendsen’s book, The Grasshopper Lies Heavy. Of all MHC’s critics, only Warrick identifies the source of the title (Eccl. 12.5) and is willing to comment on its relation to the novel. She argues that it "describes a universe where time and chance come to all men, reversing high and low, light and dark, good and evil..." (180-181). "Reversal of fortune" is, however, only one theme of this ancient book, which is far more pessimistic in its basic outlook regarding human existence than Warrick’s summary of it would indicate. Its most famous passage, and the one that establishes the tenor of the entire work, is 1.2-11, which relates the emptiness of daily existence. Is this not the central message of the dualistic cosmologies, that the sensible/mundane world is devoid of meaning and validity? When the Speaker tells of "the eye sated with seeing" and "the ear surfeited with hearing"—is this not despair over the limitations of the physical senses? Ecclesiastes calls for the recognition that all endeavor on earth is fruitless. The redemptive path to another state of existence is accomplished by an internal change, not an external one, and this is where Dick’s peculiar marriage of Pauline theology and gnostic Christian dualism is most evident.

16. Cf. Rossi’s paper and my response. See also my "Reflections on the First Five Novels on Philip K. Dick."

17. The idea of ‘way’ is, of course, fundamental to Taoism and Christianity both.

18. Compare also the names of Hugo Reiss, which suggests die Reise ("trip" or "journey"), and that of his secretary, Pferdehuf, which translates as "horse’s hoof." In addition, the surname of the SD chief in the PSA, Kreuz vom Meere, is a phrase that cannot stand grammatically but intimates "cross the sea." The phrase later finds reflection in the oracle’s response to Juliana after she has mortally wounded Joe and wonders whether or not she should complete her trek and meet Abendsen: "It furthers one/ To undertake something/ It furthers one to cross the great water" (13:201). As we shall discover, the themes of traveling toward a destination and of acting correctly play large roles in MHC.

The names of the other characters exhibit similar, if not as striking, peculiarities. Tagomi’s personal name, Nobosuke, hints strongly at the Japanese word for "faith" (nobu), while the surnames of Mr. Kotomichi and Ambassador Kaelemaluke contain respectively the Japanese michi ("way" or "road") and the imperative kaere ("turn back!"/ "return!"–Japanese has no ‘l’ consonant). Actually, if one replaces the ‘l,’ the Ambassador’s surname reads kaere manuke, or "Return, fool!" The name of the industrialist, Mr. Wyndam-Matson, includes the English wynd, which is a small alley or lane, and that of Mr. Ramsey, ultimately derives from the verb to ransom/redeem. Lastly, since Dick places great weight in MHC on certain Pauline tenets, the names of Paul Kasoura and Ray Calvin might be of some import.

Thanks are due to Dr. K. Shinohara of the Department of Religious Studies at McMaster University, who kindly provided me with the information regarding the names of MHC’s Japanese characters. Other names in the novel remain a mystery. Frank and Juliana Frink are the greatest puzzles, and I can conjure no happy solution. Similarly, Abendsen calls to mind the German der Abend, but in what context would this be important? Professor Shinohara informs me that Tedeki, the General who eventually meets Wegener in Tagomi’s office, is not a very Japanese-sounding name. As for Miss Ephrekian, Tagomi’s secretary, the temptation is to look to Classical Greek and a present infinitive form (signified by the -ein) of some verb. But nothing so far fits.

19. And what of love? Simply put, it does not seem to have a consistent place in MHC, although Tagomi, Wegener, and (perhaps in the end) Childan are motivated by it.

20. So Rabkin, 167.

21. Warrick, with the acumen that characterizes her influential article, identifies this as "a moment of choice" for Childan, Tagomi, Frink, and Juliana, though she assigns no gnostic Christian overtones to the whole enterprise.

22. Cassie Carter’s thesis that the Japanese and the PSA Americans have switched real-life roles—the former behaving like the bad old colonialists of the past four centuries and the latter assuming the characteristics of weaker, underdeveloped peoples—is highly interesting but ultimately unsatisfying. Its major flaw is that it is fundamentally ideologically-driven: it seeks to impose a model of colonialism (especially Edward Said’s) that itself is subject to great criticism. Thus, her work stands or falls not by the applicability of the model, but by the validity of the model itself, and this validity is never justified independent of her argument. For instance, how does the model square with the Roman conquest of the Greek city-states? To argue that the Romans had a "Woolworth mentality" or that the Greeks were Childan-like degenerates who aped their conquerors’ own distorted realities is, I think, contrary to fact. In what way, then, does this mesh with Said’s views on Orientalism?

23. This is a gross generalization, of course. It has been stated already, though, that Dick did not write systematic theology until the mid-seventies (a process that finds full flower in VALIS). We are concerned not with either Taoism or gnostic Christianity wie es eigentlich gewesen, but as Dick understood it. This paper does not assert that Taoism is unimportant to the interpretation of MHC; rather, it seeks to prove that both Taoism and gnostic Christianity–sometimes independently, sometimes in conflation–form the intellectual substrata of the novel.

24. Literally, "stone" (singular) in the Greek.

25. Cf. Matt. 21.42-43, Mark 12.10-11, Luke 20.17-18. See also Acts 4.11-12 and 1 Pet. 2.7-8.

26. The term "converted" is not used here, but later, with respect to Childan.

27. Slusser does not use this phrase.

28. And so if, as Robinson claims, the average American reader feels a surge a patriotism regarding the sudden appearance of Childan’s backbone, he or she utterly misses Dick’s point. This is true also for any interpretation that would claim that Childan merely celebrates a victory over Kasoura (and later) Tagomi. Everything about these two scenes–the vocabulary used, the tenor of the characters involved, the implicit philosophic context in which the scene occurs–tells the reader that a simple victory of one man over another (or of one culture over another) is not what’s at issue here.

29. Rieder, 223: "If Frink enjoys some kind of liberation here, it would seem to be freedom from all those codes of interpretation — and therefore concepts of realitywhich generally exercise such a negative, limiting force over the characters, particularly in the ‘evil’ forms by which they fetishize or reify the relationships which produce them."

30. Dick mentions the "Greek scale of priority" (14:213); this (along with the other clues contained within the novel) makes it likely that the clear sight of reason is meant.

31. Perhaps Darko Suvin’s passage is the one most quoted by other commentators: "the book [GLH] and the pin come from chthonic depths but become mediators only after being shaped by the intellect, albeit an oracular and largely instinctive one" (10). But GLC is not a mediator between realities; it is a reality for all of its readers, just as MHC is one for us. The Edfrank triangle clearly fills a mediating role, but Suvin never elucidates how it was (if ever) "shaped" by Frank Frink’s intellect. Suvin also highlights the importance of the oracle in the shaping, but we have noted that the oracle was quite ambivalent at critical points in the novel.

32. Cf. Peder Christensen’s intelligent summary: "At the heart of each of Dick’s works can be found the individual’s struggle to do the right thing, despite opposing circumstances" (72). Note also Ragle Gumm’s justification for joining the "lunatics": "I’m doing it because I know it is right. It comes first, my duty. Everybody else ... [has] done their duty; they have been loyal to what they believe in. I intend to do the same" (Time Out Of Joint, 174, italics in original).

33. By means implicit and explicit, Wegener’s mission to General Tedeki is fundamental to the redemptions of Childan, Frink, and Tagomi; Darko Suvin labels this tight matrix of narrative foci the "San Francisco plot" (10).

34. One might quibble with the inclusion of the obviously Christian term ‘evangelize’ on the grounds that Dick does not include it, but no other word in English better expresses this compulsion to convey the truth to others, especially when it follows from a personal conversion of beliefs.

35. Perhaps Dick means to allude to the entire ballad, which describes how a father is rushing his sick son to safety in the midst of a terrific, night-time storm. As the father spurs his mount furiously homeward, the child in his arms begins to hear the seductive and threatening voice of the Erl-king, who entices the child to come to him. The son communicates his terror to his father, but the father does not hear the Erl-king and thus reassures his son that those things that he sees and hears are really only the branches of willows and the cracklings of the forest. Eventually the father arrives home, but his son is dead in his arms. Could we say that while the father trusted his external senses to tell him that the forest concealed nothing suspicious or malicious, the child nevertheless was killed by what he knew in his heart was truly there? The translation from the German is mine.

36. Here Rieder is, I think, in error, although his conclusion is quite understandable and perfectly appropriate to his argument. He argues that Wegener’s hope is a "feeble" one, a worst-case scenario envisioning a dissolution of the social fabric and the pitiful survival of a few individuals. But this is the whole point — the illusions of the sensible world that have a tendency to become national or world-myths (this is Dick’s point about the Nazis and their cosmic perspective) inevitably overwhelm the inner self and its small, true desires. Cf. Juliana’s ‘hope’ at the beginning of the novel that the Nazi rockets passing overhead show no interest in her or her people: "We have no value... We can live out our tiny lives. If we want to. If it matters to us" (3:34).

37. Dick rarely has unflawed female characters in his novels, which is neither here nor there, since most of his male protagonists are rarely stereotypical heroes, either. Juliana Frink is a bit of an exception to the rule. More interesting is the view that Dick’s male leads represent John Doe trying to understand and fit into a society that appears increasingly unfamiliar and hostile to him. Indeed, the question might be asked: Are Dick’s female protagonists Jane Does who struggle with the same problem, or are they a man’s idea of what a Jane Doe who is struggling with the world ought to be like?

38. See the discussion in Rieder, 215.

39. See my forthcoming paper, "Reflections of the First Five Novels of Philip K. Dick."


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_____. Time Out Of Joint. 1959. New York: Belmont, 1965.

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_____. "Reflections on the First Five Novels of Philip K. Dick." [forthcoming]

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Warrick, Patricia S. "The Encounter of Taoism and Fascism in Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle." SFS 7.2 (July 1980): 174-190.

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