11/16/2012

The Dispossessed, U. Le Guin


There was a wall. It did not look important. It was built of uncut rocks roughly mortared; an adult could look right over it, and even a child could climb it. Where it crossed the roadway, instead of having a gate it degenerated into mere geometry, a line, an idea of boundary. But the idea was real. It was important. For seven generations there had been nothing in the world more important than that wall. Like all walls it was ambiguous, two-faced. What was inside it and what was outside it depended upon which side of it you were on.

If to respect himself Kimoe had to consider half the human race as inferior to him, how then did women manage to respect themselves – did they consider men inferior?

It is of the nature of idea to be communicated: written, spoken, done. The idea is like grass. It craves light, likes crowds, thrives on crossbreeding, grows better for being stepped on.

Surely freedom lay rather in openness than in secrecy, and freedom is always worth the risk.

You can't crush ideas by suppressing them. You can only crush them by ignoring them. By refusing to think – refusing to change.

“Well, we think that time 'passes', flows past us; but what if it is we who move forward, from past to future, always discovering the new? It would be a little like reading a book, you see. The book is all there, all at once, between its covers. But if you want to read the story and understand it, you must begin with the first page, and go forwards, always in order. So the universe woul be a very great book, and we would be very small readers.”

“It is only in consciousness, it seems, that we experience time at all. A little baby has no time; he can't distance himself from the past and understand how it relates to his present, or plan how his present might relate to his future. He does not know time passes; he does not understand death. The unconscious mind of the adult is like that still. In a dream there is no time, and succession is all changed about, and cause and effect are all mixed toghether. In myth and legend there is no time. What past is it the tale means when it says 'Once upon a time'? And so, when the mystic makes the reconnection of his reason and his unconscious, he sees all becoming as one being, and understands the eternal return.”

[Discussing the army] “It is a coercive mechanism of extraordinary inefficiency – a kind of seventh-millennium steam engine! With such a rigid and fragile structure what could be done that is worth doing?”

... He now understood why the army was organised as it was. It was indeed quite necessary. No rational form of organisation would serve the purpose. He simply had not understood that the purpose was to enable men with machinge-guns to kill unarmed men and women easily and in quantities when told to do so. Only he still could not see where courage, or manliness, or fitness entered in.

Death was in him, under him; the earth itself was uncertain, unreliable. The enduring, the reliable, is a promise made by the human mind.

... revolution begins in the thinking mind.

Freedom is never very safe.

They say there is nothing new under any sun. But if each life is not new, each singl elife, then why are we born?



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