Sunday, November 23, 2014

Imagining Grounds for Hope

First she made a joke about being shorter than the other people at the podium.  Then she told the audience that she was sharing her award —the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters — with fellow fantasy and science-fiction writers. Then Ursula LeGuin said this:

I think hard times are coming, when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies, to other ways of being. And even imagine some real grounds for hope.

We will need writers who can remember freedom: poets, visionaries—the realists of a larger reality. Right now, I think we need writers who know the difference between production of a market commodity and the practice of an art. The profit motive is often in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable; so did the divine right of kings. … Power can be resisted and changed by human beings; resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art—the art of words.

I’ve had a long career and a good one, in good company, and here, at the end of it, I really don’t want to watch American literature get sold down the river. … The name of our beautiful reward is not profit. Its name is freedom.
 Within an hour I was at the library checking out three books by Ursula Le Guin. Here's a writer whose voice I want to read.


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