Thursday, April 05, 2012


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Time Out of Joint, Philip K Dick, J B Lippincott, 1959, 255 pp

When I was a reckless, drug-taking hippie, I must have been hanging out with the wrong people. How else can I explain that I never heard of Philip K Dick just when I needed him the most?

I have only recently begun to read his heady concoction of science fiction mixed with a sort of Zen spirituality. The message in this somewhat disjointed novel is that one can only life safely in the science fictional universe called "reality" if one is half asleep and gullible as hell.

Ragle Gumm is not quite in step with "reality." He is a 46-year-old man who lives with his married sister and makes his living as the long-standing champion of a newspaper puzzle contest. Did I mention that he has hallucinations?

Eventually he finds out what's really going on, all of which is made clear in the last ten pages. Also made clear is the author's true message: When Ragle Gumm took his first journey into space, "as he left Earth, he passed from that experience to another, the experience of true freedom. It answered, for him, a need that he had never been aware of. A deep restless yearning under the surface, always there in him...but not articulated. The need to travel on. To migrate."

As I lay on my bed, recovering from the flu and waiting for spring to truly arrive, I read those words and they felt like a correct diagnosis for the cause of my malaise.

(Time Out of Joint is available in paperback by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore. To find it at your nearest indie bookstore, click on the cover image above.)

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