Day 21. U is for Ursula K. Le Guin

I started reading Le Guin’s novel, The Dispossessed yesterday. As I am only three chapters in, these thoughts will likely be a bit scattershot.

– This is shaping up to be the most political of Le Guin’s novels that I’ve yet read. Anarcho-syndicalism vs….late capitalism?/america?/us? It will probably wind up being less evocative than The Left Hand of Darkness, but more successful in what it is trying to portray. Darkness is a great novel, but Le Guin’s imagination does kind of fail her in her attempt to describe human life outside of the male/female binary. It is much easier to deal with different political/social arrangements than that.

– Le Guin is, from what I can gather, an actual anarcho-syndicalist taoist, so I’m guessing the moon of Anarres at least somewhat approximates her vision of how humanity should be. What I like about her is that she isn’t going the easy route of painting Annares as this perfect society that needs to enlighten Urras. She is too canny a writer for that. Annares has not eliminated the basic flaws of human nature, and the revolution that brought about their society came with the heavy cost of severing them from their history. Shevek realizes the good in Urras, and how much of his own views were founded on prejudice and misinformation.

– My thoughts on anarchism and the state are somewhat complex and muddled at the moment. When I was younger, I was a libertarian, and flirted around a bit with anarcho-capitalism; which, granted, is a very different thing than anarcho-syndicalism, but my thinking did move in the direction of wanting the state done away with entirely. The best philosophy paper that I wrote argued for a kind of individualist anarchism on the grounds of individual subjectivity. I have since moved away from that, to my current, rather murky communitarianism which makes more room for the state, although I have yet to sort out my thinking here to a point that I feel comfortable with.

– Religions resembling the Abrahamic faiths don’t really come off too well in Le Guin’s fiction, do they?

– Shevek’s sense of distance and alienation from others hits home for me. And that sense that if you were to go back to the ‘home’ you sometimes pine for, you’d realize that it wasn’t really your home anymore. But then we all imperceptibly cross those lines of no return in our lives.


About Josh W

Scribbler and doodler
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