Sunday, January 07, 2018

She has found an interstice

Ursula K. Le Guin is a wise woman. No one who has read any of her fiction could come to any another conclusion.

No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters is a collection of Le Guin's blog writings. She has been blogging since 2010, having taken up the practice after being inspired by José Saramago's blog.

She reflects on aging, leisure, anger, writing, genre, feminism, social media, opera. She has interesting opinions to share. She tells tales of her cat.
Sometimes I notice that a teenager in the family group is present in body — smiling, polite, apparently attentive — but absent. I think, I hope she has found an interstice, made herself some spare time, wriggled into it, and is alone there, deep down there, thinking, feeling.
I recently ordered this book for someone as a gift; it was only afterwards that I was lucky enough to see a review copy. Because of the nature of the collection, I think it is much more conducive to print than to e-publication (somewhat ironically, given its blogly origins). It's the sort of book you flip through, let something catch your eye, settle in to mull over an essay or two. As something to read cover to cover, it's a little disjointed.

What most impresses me is the spirit of the book, which the title captures well. Don't waste time, be mindful, think things through, do something.

Some quotable highlights
"Lying It All Away" (October 2012):
I have watched my country accept, mostly quite complacently, along with a lower living standard for more and more people, a lower moral standard. A moral standard based on advertising. That hard-minded man Saul Bellow wrote that democracy is propaganda. It get harder to deny that when, for instance, during a campaign, not only aspirants to the presidency but the president himself hides or misrepresents known facts, lies deliberately and repeatedly. And only the opposition objects.
"The Inner Child and the Nude Politician" (October 2014):
Children are by nature, by necessity, irresponsible, and irresponsibility in them, as in puppies or kittens, is part of their charm. Carried into adulthood it becomes a dire practical and ethical failing. Uncontrolled spontaneity wastes itself. Ignorance isn't wisdom. Innocence is wisdom only of the spirit. We can and do all learn from children, all through our life; but "become as little children" is a spiritual counsel, not an intellectual, practical, or ethical one.
"Belief in Belief" (February 2014):
I don't believe in Darwin's theory of evolution. I accept it. It isn't a matter of faith, but of evidence.

The whole undertaking of science is to deal, as well as it can, with reality. The reality of actual things and events in time is subject to doubt, to hypothesis, to proof and disproof, to acceptance and rejection — not to belief or disbelief.

Belief has its proper and powerful existence in the domains of magic, religion, fear, and hope.
Think about what matters.

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