11 February 2018 Entry: "Ursula Le Guin"
Ursula Le Guin is one of my favourite writers and sadly she died at the beginning of this year. Margaret Atwood wrote a wonderful obituary and I quote some of it:
“In all her work, Le Guin was always asking the same urgent question: what sort of world do you want to live in? Her own choice would have been gender equal, racially equal, economically fair and self-governing, but that was not on offer. It would also have contained mutually enjoyable sex and good food: there was a better chance of that.
The Earthsea trilogy, for instance, is a memorable exploration of the relationship between life and death: without the darkness, no light; and mortality allows all that is alive to be. The darkness includes the hidden and less pleasant sides of our selves – our fears, our pride, our envy. Ged, its hero, must face his shadow self before it devours him. Only then will he become whole.”
And now we see what’s going on in Poland - passing a law denying Polish complicity in Nazi atrocities. I quote from today’s Guardian:
Professor Dariusz Stola, director of the Polin Museum of Polish Jews, which opened in 2013 and is seen by many as a crowning achievement of Polish-Jewish dialogue and reconciliation says:
“Those who condemn Poles en masse are the best friends and allies of Polish antisemites – they feed each other.”
Stola argues that the recent deterioration in Polish-Jewish relations illustrates a wider deterioration in Polish society:
“It is a sign of a deterioration in the capacity to talk, and the ability to talk is the essence of democracy. If you cannot talk, you cannot reach an agreement; you can only force a solution. The erosion of language is the erosion of democracy and the path to violence.”
I would suggest we’re experiencing this erosion in the wider world too and at times like these, it’s up to the poets and writers to speak words of reason and encourage dialogue and thoughtfulness.
Lydia Kennaway’s wonderful poem of the month, Inuit Anger Walk, is an inspiring response to our baser emotions. Rather than lash out in quick ill-considered comments on social media - take a long walk and think about the less pleasant side of ourselves.