What role did the I Ching play in the novel’s composition and philosophical underpinning?
I Ching is an ancient Chinese classical literature, but it is interesting that it has become the fantasy foundation of many science fiction works in western literature. For example, Philip K. Dick’s 1962 new, the man in the high castle was written on what if Japan won at the parallel universes of World War II (Mountfort, 2018). The author uses a lot of historical reference elements and tries to imagine that scene with his imagination. The idea and the use of philosophical elements are all from this book.
More about the book of I Ching
I Ching gives me the feeling that it is a book about natural philosophy. Its purpose is to let you see the truth of human life in nature.
There are three main contents.
1. Everything in the world is relative rather than absolute.
2. Things that do not follow the laws of nature are ultimately dead end.
3. According to the laws of nature, we can infer what will happen in the future.
How do these ideas relate to science fiction?
There are three highlights in the The man in the high castle:
- the work is based on an elevated history, that is, the axis won the World War II and divided the world.
- The United States is divided into three parts: Japanese, German and neutral. America is also the main stage of the story.
- Although it’s western science fiction, But the book of changes is an important element of the original. There is a book in the original book called locust disaster, which describes a world similar to the historical process of the real world and has a great impact on the characters in the story. It is a very interesting clue object.
Based on science, science fiction shows another realm of analysis, indicating a possible direction for the development of human civilization: assuming that science fiction focuses on the imagination of “outer space” material science and technology; fantasy is looking back on human’s own deep thinking and peeping into the endless “inner space” in human mind.
Science fiction is absolutely a unique form of creation in this era, breathing the fresh breath of this era.
Therefore, Darwin’s evolutionism, Einstein’s relativity, the development of nuclear energy after the Second World War, space navigation, computer electronics, robots and so on, have made great efforts to science fiction, brought science fiction into its golden age, and gradually jumped from supporting role status to a single literary system, and become increasingly popular.
With the development of society, the decline of religion, the freedom of thought, the expansion of science fiction, the ever-changing content, and the ever-changing themes: alien creatures, the future society, the fantastic extraterrestrial world, super time and space, human evolution and so on, there is no far to go, which makes people’s eyes open and their minds fly.
Novelists are no longer confined to the level of science, boldly cross the barrier of the material world, march into the “mysterious and mysterious” human spiritual realm, and explore the origin and ultimate, regeneration and destruction of things.
What’s more, it represents a reaction of human beings to the scientific and technological civilization, which improves the status of human beings and puts them above machines. With the spirit realm, we should break the material restriction and establish a man-centered world.
China’s I Ching, Laozhuang, Huangdi’s Internal Classic, Taoist Scriptures, yin and Yang education, lay a theory that is neither mysterious nor mysterious, and explore the mysterious relationship between heaven and earth.
Based on Western science fiction and Chinese metaphysics, we have developed unique works to create a new world of fantasy novels (HUANG, 2003) .
Science fiction brings literature into a new field, enabling human imagination to soar freely, to enter into the past, the future, the present or far-off time and space and country, to conceive any possible changes and things, and to search for the deep secrets of the universe.
HUANG, Y. (2003). super brain. 2nd ed. Culture and Art Press, pp.1-10.
Mountfort, P. (2016). The I Ching and Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle. Science Fiction Studies, 43(2), pp.287-309. doi:10.5621/sciefictstud.43.2.0287
Mountfort, P. (2018). Science fiction doubles: Technologization of the doppelganger and sinister science in serial science fiction TV. Journal of Science & Popular Culture, 1(1), pp.59-75. doi:10.1386/jspc.1.1.59_1.