From The Dispossessed. The scene is the main character, Shevek,…

From The Dispossessed. The scene is the main character, Shevek, walking to see his family for the first time in years. Suddenly there is a small earthquake. Nothing is damaged, no one is hurt. But it serves to remind Shevek of this fact, that everything is transient and the appearance of solidity, endurance, is in our heads.

You see, the book is about anarchism, capitalism, wall-building, physics, general field theories, and famine. Among other things. Shevek is the only individual who can possibly unite temporal and spatial physics, along with, perhaps, all the world’s of the galaxy. It is because he is Odonian, part of a society that functions through anarchism. Not the anarchism of angry children writing on bathroom walls, but real anarchism, where no one forces anyone to do anything but everyone is allowed to find what they want to do – and so everyone works, as though they were being made to.

The two ideas link up, transience and anarchism. In simple ways : if nothing lasts, one can’t own anything. And in complicated ways: the human mind is the only thing that can promise. We are gifts to one another, and only in giving are we free, because we are loosed from the impossibility of having.

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