The Demolished Man
(Would not read again)
However, taking into considerations the year this book was published 1953 (A few years after WW2) , and the message it tries to convey, I am not surprised it won the first Hugo Award.
I read this book ages ago, so I don’t have much notes about it. What I have instead are parts of the book I’ve underlined on my Kindle and my interpretation of what the book’s main message is.
Man is ultimately good. Murder is against man’s nature.
We are all blind and crazy, driven by lust for power, greed and desire. The cursing of the peepers is that they see the craziness of the situation. That men are essentially good but circumstances and weakness force them to perform atrocities.
(Peepers/Espers are telepaths. For me, they represent people with incredibly good empathy, people reading skills and understanding of human psychology.)
“That’s where we live… All of us. In the psychiatric ward. Without escape… without refuge. Be grateful you’re not a peeper, sir. Be grateful that you only see the outward man. Be grateful that you never see the passions, the hatreds, the jealousies, the malice, the sicknesses… Be grateful you rarely see the frightening truth in people. The world will be a wonderful place when everyone’s a peeper and everyone’s adjusted… But until then, be grateful you’re blind.”
“Listen,” he cried in exaltation. “Listen, normals! You must learn what it is. You must learn how it is. You must tear the barriers down. You must tear the veils away. We see the truth you cannot see… That there is nothing in man but love and faith, courage and kindness, generosity and sacrifice. All else is only the barrier of your blindness. One day we’ll all be mind to mind and heart to heart…” In the endless universe there has been nothing new, nothing different. What has appeared exceptional to the minute mind of man has been inevitable to the infinite Eye of God. This strange second in a life, that unusual event, those remarkable coincidences of environment, opportunity, and encounter… all of them have been reproduced over and over on the planet of a sun whose galaxy revolves once in two hundred million years and has revolved nine times already. There has been joy. There will be joy again.
Reich arose from the bed and toweled himself before the cheval mirror, practicing the smile. “Make your enemies by choice,” he muttered, “not by accident.”
“What game? What Cosmic Game?” “The maze… the labyrinth… all the universe, created as a puzzle for us to solve. The galaxies, the stars, the sun, the planets… the world as we knew it. We were the only reality. All the rest was make-believe… dolls, puppets, stage-settings… pretended passions. It was a make-believe reality for us to solve.” “I conquered it. I owned if.” “And you failed to solve it. We’ll never know what the solution is, but it’s not theft, terror, hatred, lust, murder, rapine. You failed, and it’s all been abolished, disbanded…” “But what’s to become of us?” “We are abolished too. I tried to warn you. I tried to stop you. But we failed the test.” “But why? Why? Who are we? What are we?” “Who knows? Did the seed know who or what it was when it failed to find fertile soil? Does it matter who or what we are? We have failed. Our test is ended. We are ended.” “No!” “Perhaps if we had solved it, Ben, it might have remained real. But it is ended. Reality has turned into might-have-been, and you have awakened at last… to nothing.” “We’ll go back! We’ll try it again!” “There is no going back. It is ended.” “We’ll find a way. There must be a way…” “There is none. It is ended.” It was ended. Now… Demolition.
“Oh yes, sir. It’s one of the run-of-the-mill escape patterns. When life gets tough, you tend to take refuge in the idea that it’s all make-believe… a giant hoax. Reich had the seeds of that weakness in him already. I simply forced them and let Reich defeat himself. Life was getting tough for him. I persuaded him to believe that the universe was a hoax… a puzzle-box. Then I tore it down, layer by layer. I made him believe that the test was ended. The puzzle was being dismantled. And I left Reich alone with The Man With No Face. He looked into the face and saw himself and his father… and we had everything.”
“If a man’s got talent and guts to buck society, he’s obviously above average. You want to hold on to him. You straighten him out and turn him into a plus value. Why throw him away? Do that enough and all you’ve got left are the sheep”