Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new.
Ursula Le Guin, The Lathe of Heaven
Ursula Le Guin seems not to suffer from the confines of language. The most peculiar scenes and sensations are transformed into words with such lightness that I come to doubt the Whorf-Sapir hypothesis in which I firmly and adamantly believe. Her style, infused with love of humanity, serves as a deterrent of her message. It takes a while to see past her writing and notice the warning which her words tenaciously weave. Perfect fluency, the logic behind chaos serve to catch you unaware. Some pages into the book you are suddenly struck, amid the beauty of her writing, with a sense of dread, of slow, yet inevitable, civilizational decay.
The contradiction which is present in her books is not awkward – it makes perfect sense. It makes me believe that she has answers which a lot of us are looking for because her books manage to reconcile the beauty and grandeur of the human race with our delectable penchant for wanton self-destruction. At the same time I am proud to be human and appalled by the historical failure of the race. She captures the dichotomy of our fates as individuals and as parts of the whole, which seems to lack cohesion and collective intelligence.
The combination of subtle alliteration bordering on verse, small quips and lapses of humour only enhance the sense of pending doom. Constructed worlds, distant but probable, serve as an eerie setting to showcase the failure of an entire race. A beautiful, complex failure. An amalgamation of magnificent and singular minds destined for self-destruction.
Three books later, Le Guin still makes me feel both happy and sad about being a human. And I am at peace with that fact. Even after I saw the dark future that awaits the human race, I do not feel bad because I also saw the beauty of the individual.
It is our suffering that brings us together. It is not love. Love does not obey the mind, and turns to hate when forced. The bond that binds us is beyond choice. We are brothers. We are brothers in what we share. In pain, which each of us must suffer alone, in hunger, in poverty, in hope, we know our brotherhood. We know it, because we have had to learn it. We know that there is no help for us but from one another, that no hand will save us if we do not reach out our hand. And the hand that you reach out is empty, as mine is. You have nothing. You possess nothing. You own nothing. You are free. All you have is what you are, and what you give.
Ursula Le Guin, The Dispossessed
I have read three books by Ursula Le Guin. All three will forever be a part of who I am, of what I feel it means to be human. I feel honoured to have had the privilege of reading these books and allowing them to influence me, both intellectually and emotionally. I’ve read The Left Hand of Darkness, The Dispossessed, and The Lathe of Heaven. You can read my review of the Dispossessed and my take on the characterization in The Lathe of Heaven on Goodreads.
The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula Le Guin is a part of the mighty MiniBookClub:
- All Hail Queen Ursula (anatomyofreading.wordpress.com)