There is a pretty good reason why Disobliging Reality is a tough sell. First, anything that seems to require more than common intelligence to understand is considered not worth the trouble. So much for quantum mechanics. Secondly, and this is the main reason, being told by those who are supposed to know that nothing is real is totally unacceptable. It has to do with having things. If nothing is real, then I don’t really have anything. We all have assumed inventories of what we have, and those are contingent upon our inventories of what we think we don’t have.
What we think we have defines us. We have our health. We have our beliefs. We have our values, our likes and dislikes. We have our friends and relatives. We have common sense. We have our skills and abilities. We have certain talents. We have our past, and we have hopes for our future. And then we have all the stuff we have accumulated based upon everything we have that enabled us to get it. Yet, according to quantum theory, all that we have does not exist until we look at it. No lookee, no havee. We don’t really have the steak; we just have the sizzle. Nobody wants to hear that, let alone acknowledge it. As long as we can hear the sizzle, we are convinced that we have the steak. But learning that the sizzle is not the steak does not satisfy us. The illusion haunts us with the knowledge that we really don’t have the steak. The sizzle without the steak just isn’t good enough.
Enter Disobliging Reality. Here is a book that reveals that there is no steak, only the sizzle out of which we create the illusion of a steak. Most people don’t want to read a book explaining why we don’t have the steak. If we can’t really have anything, what’s it all about anyway? Consider the paradox. All that we can have is the knowledge that we don’t really have anything. Where does that get us? It certainly jeopardizes the legitimacy of where we thought we were all this time. In most people, this produces an anguished cry of rejection. The readjustment is just too harrowing to bear. How can one adapt to a steak-free universe? As in the movie, The Matrix, if you can cut a deal with the agents so that you can enjoy the illusion of a real steak on the condition that you are never allowed to remember that the steak isn’t real, you settle for the bogus reality. And, as part of the deal, you forget that there are any agents as well. The point seems to be that the experience of a well-crafted illusion is worth the price of remaining totally clueless.
Disobliging Reality is too much like a slap in the face, and most people really resent being slapped around. Thus, the marketing of such an unpleasant experience is at best doubtful. There could be an initial interest, even an anticipation of learning something absolutely new, even revolutionary, until the knowledge reveals that you can’t really have anything. It’s a matter of knowing in conflict with having. Which is more valuable? I don’t think there’s much doubt about most people’s preference. You can see it every day in every aspect of our active existence. It is dramatized, and in politics caricatured as a willing sacrifice of knowing for the pleasure of having, even if the having is pure illusion.
There is a certain amount of guts required to appreciate Disobliging Reality. At least there is an element of having nothing left to lose. Think of Road Warrior. Think of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. The illusion you inhabit no longer has any claim upon you. You are free. True knowing has no object. What you have is what you know, and what you know is free of illusion. What’s it worth to you?