Dream in the novel, “The Lathe of Heaven,” (Le Guin) and Eliminating Issue of Over-Population
Le Guin’s protagonist “George Orr” dreams for altering the reality of over-population when insisted in the second due to Haber, which puts the human race at almost instinct due to plague. Haber is a researcher in the discipline of sleep, along with an ambitious physiatrist, and seeks to utilize the dreaming power of George Orr in changing the planet, while ending up in harming himself and the planet. Orr’s dream solves the problem of overpopulation, ending up reducing the welfare of collective human race with the consequence of plague.
The moral and social consequence to the dream solution of eliminating over-population is in the form of losing life in high numbers due to plague, which almost reduces the population to the levels close to complete extinction. Haber convinces Orr with the argument, “You know that back in the eighteenth century Malthus was pressing the panic button about population” (Le Guin, 1971, p. 51). However, the social consequence of the dream is in the form of lack of human resource to sustain communal life, and morally depriving significant population from the right to ‘life.’ Haber is satisfied with the outcome because his personality and belief system follows utilitarian approach that insists on increasing the wellbeing of most number of people in an optimum manner. Orr’s personality holds Taoist philosophy as central to the existence, where internal peace is the product of living in harmony, which does not supplement the consequences of second dream. The presence of lawyer in the room guided Haber to manipulate Err tactfully, “he had to put it all in abstract terms, instead of just telling Orr what to dream” (Le Guin, 1971, p. 52).
Orr’s dissatisfaction is reflective of ‘lack of harmony’ in the world, while Haber’s obsession with himself at the end explains the direction of human desires in positivist manner.
Le Guin, Ursula K. “The Lathe of Heaven. 1971; rpt.” NY: Avon (1973).