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#ursula k. le guin

“It is a durable, ubiquitous, specious metaphor, that one about veneer (or paint, or pliofilm, or whatever) hiding the nobler reality beneath. It can conceal a dozen fallacies at once. One of the most dangerous is the implication that civilization, being artificial, is unnatural: that it is the opposite of primitiveness… Of course, there is no veneer, the process is one of growth, and primitiveness and civilization are degrees of the same thing.”

- Ursula K. Le Guin, The left hand of dakness.

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“[…] This is a hard age we live in, an ungrateful age. Things aren’t as they were in our grandparents’ days, are they?”

“I scarcely know, sir, but I’ve heard the same lament on other worlds.”

- Ursula K. Le Guin, The left hand of dakness.

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“If it were proven that there is no God there would be no religion. No Handdara, no Yomesh, no hearthgods, nothing. But also if it were proven that there is a God, there would be no religion.”

- Ursula K. Le Guin, The left hand of dakness.

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“Apollo, the god of light, of reason, of proportion, harmony, number- Apollo blinds those who press too close in worship. Don’t look straight at the sun. Go into a dark bar for a bit and have a beer with Dionysus, every now and then.”

- Ursula K. Le Guin, The left hand of darkness.

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Ursula K. Le Guin, Steering the Craft
A skill is something you know how to do. Skill in writing frees you to write what you want to write. It may also show you what you want to write. Craft enables art.
     There’s luck in art. And there’s the gift. You can’t earn that. But you can learn skill, and you can earn it. You can learn to deserve your gift.
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The Maenads                                                                                                                                        Ursula K. Le Guin

Somewhere I read
that when they finally staggered off the mountain
into some strange town, past drunk,
hoarse, half naked, blear-eyed,
blood dried under broken nails
and across young thighs,
but still jeering and joking, still trying
to dance, lurching and yelling, but falling
dead asleep by the market stalls,
sprawled helpless, flat out, then
middle-aged women,
respectable housewives,
would come and stand nightlong in the agora
silent
together
as ewes and cows in the night fields,
guarding, watching them
as their mothers
watched over them.
And no man
dared
that fierce decorum.

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“She heard about them, their cousins, their families, their jobs, their opinions, their houses, their hernias. […] People not in a hurry went by boat and told each other their stories. Sutty got told even more stories than most, because she listened without interrupting, except to say, Really? What happened then? and How wonderful! or How terrible! She listened with greed, tireless. These dull and fragmentary relations of ordinary lives could not bore her. Everything she had missed in Dovza City, everything the official literature, the heroic propaganda left out, they told. If she had to chose between heroes and hernias, it was no contest.”

Ursula K. Le Guin, The Telling. New York: Ace Books, 2003 [2000], 32.

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A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K Le Guin

I picked up this book after being disappointed in a few hyped-up modern books (probably my fault, my expectations were too high) - and boy was this a good choice. A tale of wizardry and wisdom and balance perfect to quiet an exhausted mind

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (what can I say? a classic)

What I liked:

  • IMPECCABLE pacing. Not too slow, not too fast, sort of epic but not boring. Philip Pullman talked about this sort of thing in his essays, quoting David Marmet: “Where do I put the camera”? Le Guin’s narrative camerawork is just masterful
  • Worldbuilding and characters are simple but believable. There’s not too much detail but the tone is just right so that you can imagine it all clearly
  • There are maps
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What I didn’t like:

  • The plot isn’t very thick or exciting. This is a peculiar kind of tale that may not suit every reading mood
  • Rampant misogyny - however knowing who wrote this, I’m looking forward for some payback for this in the next books…

Overall thoughts:

I’ve enjoyed this a lot, even though classical-ish fantasy isn’t normally my cup of tea. Le Guin’s books have influenced the genre so much that I thought it would be difficult for me to see their originality, but surprisingly this wasn’t a problem at all - simply because she has such an excellent storytelling voice. I’ll definitely be reading more of her work, starting with the second Earthsea book, and will look up some of her essays and interviews as well, to hear more of this voice…

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Ursula K. Le Guin
For we each of us deserve everything, every luxury that was ever piled in the tombs of the dead kings, and we each of us deserve nothing, not a mouthful of bread in hunger. Have we not eaten while another starved? Will you punish us for that? Will you reward us for the virtue of starving while others ate? No man earns punishment, no man earns reward. Free your mind of the idea of deserving, the idea of earning, and you will begin to be able to think
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2020-07-03

Kicking off the fun for @books-and-cookies July re-reading challenge with Ursula K. Le Guin’s “The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia.” I’m not sure how many times I’ve re-read this - possibly 16. It always offers up something relevant to the moment.

“The individual cannot bargain with the State. The State recognizes no coinage but power: and it issues the coins itself.”

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My summer holidays started a week ago and since then I’ve felt overwhelmingly depressesed. Last week I leared about UK cancelling home fees for EU students aince my year of application and I was heartbroken. Meanwhile in Poland my country is succumbing into a homophobic and transphobic shit-show nightmare to live in and this really is not a good place or time to try to figure out yourslef and your identity. As if there wasn’t enough terrible things happening in the world already.

I came out as nonbinary recently to to of my close-since-childhood firends and and it was really god in one case and in the other I don’t think they understood nor I feel heard. It’s bitter pill to swallow. I still probably won’t come out to anyone in my family because I am still second guessing myself and to be honest I sometimes feel like I want to flee the internalized misogyny and opression of my female body and gender role not really identifying with the non-binary gender.

I wanted to lift up my mood, recently ’ve been only sitting mindlessly not able to get out of bed for hours and playing video games, so I did some reading and read Ursula Le Guin’s Left Hand of Darkness because I really like her prose and I’ve loved science-fiction since I was a kid, and yeah guess what it didn’t get any better. Now I spend my days thinking about Estraven and yeah I’m probably taking fiction to seriously but I just feel like I lost a part of myslef after finishing this book. I relate so much to Estraven and just feel like I would be more like him if I wasn’t so depressed and drowning in self pity. I want to escape this world, at least for a while.

For to long a time I did not belived to live long enough to be an adult nor think about what is it that I want. Nusuth.

As for good things, I am spending lots of time with my sister and thats always a good thing. I am proud of myself that I’ve read a whole ass book for pleasure and generally going back to reading because I haven’t manage to do it in a long time. I am also happy that I went to an anti-hate speach protest here in Warsaw against the homophobic slurs people have been recently throwing around in media, including the current and probably future as well, president. I also managed to vote in the presidential election for the first time in my life, since I turned 18 few months ago and yeah it’s good to feel like at least I can vote against a man who calls me and my people a neo-totalitarian ideology.

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