11/22/63 (review)

“We never know which lives we influence, or when, or why. Not until the future eats the present, anyway. We know when it’s too late.”

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Stephen King wrote an epic time travel book after extensive research.

In 11/22/63, a humble high school teacher is sent back to the ’50s to prevent the assassination of JFK. What he doesn’t know is the significance of the butterfly effect. Every small action ripples out, affecting everything and everyone, in an interconnected web of spacetime. In Indra’s net.

King explores the responsibility of using freewill (is it really that free?) in a probabilistic multiverse, where the obdurate past harmonizes itself. As Alan Watts once said, “You never know what will be the consequence of the misfortune; or, you never know what will be the consequences of good fortune.”

For our main character, Jake Epping (George Amberson), the consequences matter. Friends will die, lovers will suffer, and whole futures will be annihilated in a plume of radioactive dust.

11/22/63 is not merely a story about time, but about the significance of our actions, and whether those actions matter metaphysically. It is a tragic timeline of love experienced in another life, strangers intertwined, synchronicities, and cosmic patterns that cannot be seen from limited human perspectives.

From generation to generation, we will pass on our ghosts. We may have been born with different faces and have come from different places and eras, but we will often repeat the same traumas that have scarred us from our past.

We will still build and destroy.

We will still love and hate.

We will still be born and grow old and die.

Like an ouroboros swallowing its tail in an infinite cycle, we’re in a process of integration and disintegration. We cannot escape our future.

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