The spaced-out library

    We live, I think, in a spaced-out culture. We have travelled so far into space that we have found nothing beyond the horizon, because we have already crossed the farthest horizon, that of outer space. People these days are questioning life itself, as with both existentialism and nihilism. When the thinkers get this way, so does the culture. The fantastic speed-up in progress in the present age has led to the outmoding of the past, leaving our perspective groundless, and we are accelerated into a future as we race after our potentialities and are in a future of unrealized things while still in the present. I have been reviewing books reactive to this world and state of being we are now in.  This month I have for review a book by Stephen King called 11/22/63 (Scribner, New York, London, Toronto, Sydney, New Delhi, 2011, 849 pages) which I think may serve as an example of what I am saying, considering that it has the same scope and outlook of my comment about the present age, and also concerns a real-life incident that has had an impact on the entire earth. It appears to me to be Stephen King’s most ambitious piece of writing, although I have not noticed its receiving as much publicity as a lot of his previous books. It may be that it speaks for itself; I doubt if it is being ignored.

     The book has time travel in it, which moves the story at once into the realm of the impossible, where King seemingly flourishes; his topics are not only forbidden to the point of being compared to the Necronomicon, but are well into alternate realities where things are not the same as they are here. This book concerns the alteration of the present by changing events of the past—which is not science, but magic, though the proposition involved is a scientific one. In this book, there are a couple of fellows who have located a magic gateway into the past and are noting that it could be used to effect a major change in the present, by interfering with the assassination of President Kennedy. The reader will be constantly aware that this change has not taken place, although theoretically, according to the book, there could come a “moment in time” when the reader will cease being aware that the event happened, because it no longer will have happened. It would occur definitively in some time after the time we are now living in, as the fellows from our own immediate past have made their move, or perhaps their preliminary experimentation will have projected them into a happening which is future to our own time; the author is in control of when they were, are, or will be. At this time the novel has its situation in time, but that could be changed by revising it. Perhaps shortly after a revision the revision and the book will no longer be necessary. Thus are the complexities of the willing suspension of disbelief in the perusal of this novel.

     The cover of the book is a newspaper story showing Kennedy in his vehicle under the headline JFK SLAIN IN DALLAS, LBJ TAKES OATH. Turn the book over and the back cover has a newspaper story showing Kennedy and his wife under the headline JFK ESCAPES ASSASSINATION, FIRST LADY ALSO OK! The book is an assault on reality, one which is more successful than such assaults (by Dadaists, Surrealists, Pataphysicists, Avant-gardists, and others) have usually been.

     Leaving out the device of time travel, the book becomes an exploration of the process of doing and undoing things, revising, reforming, redoing, dealing with past mistakes as their effects continue to exist in the present, and dealing in the form of conflict with those who do not regard these things as having been a mistake. Oswald is seen as a person who was himself trying to change probable history, by means other than time travel. Perhaps his action created a future in which such a novel would be written, irrationality being one of the results of the assassination.

     The book, at any rate, makes it clear that we have suffered disastrous events and that the result has been social chaos. Rather than do any spoilers here, I will leave the reader of this review to obtain and read the book for himself, having said all I really want to say about the novel.

   Spaced out is definitely what this $35.00 volume is.