August 1st, 2003

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BL0RF - LeGuin Rocks: core dump.

Everyone needs to go out to the store and buy LeGuin's Birthday of the World. Skip right to the end of the book and read the story Paradises Lost.

This story embodies everything I love about LeGuin and it contains in it SO MANY important ideas. It starts out as a glimpse of growing up in the sustainable utopian society of a generation ship, by the end it explores the hidden intrigue and politics that come with knowledge and skills and division of labor even in a seeming utopia (an issue often explored by LeGuin, see also The Dispossessed), the role of trust and truth and power in relationships (both intimate and social...there's an incredible parallel going on between this girl's relationship with her mentor/husband and her mentor/husband's relationship to the larger society...and her best friend sits at the hinge of both), loss and creation and evolution of cultural information over generations (as always you can tell just how much of a Anthropology geek LeGuin is...she has so much insight into just how cultures work and change and how culture affects individuals).

But most of all the real theme of the story (as if you could say any LeGuin work has a _single_ theme) is Church and State. Particularly there's an important lesson in this story about how dangerous and insidious it is when the Church claims to be entirely allied with the goals of the State, when the Church claims to effectively be a natural partner of the State, when the Church has so infiltrated the State's leadership that the State accepts this doctrine unquestioningly. Does all this sound familiar? You know, although we have separation of Church and State, the US is a Christian Nation, right? Anyway this story gets to the heart of how this kind of thing happens, how quickly people forget that there was any other way, and what the consequences may be.

The story gets at the complex grittiness of real societies, even of the super simple very small, seemingly closed system of this generation ship. Ain't nothing simple when it comes to humans. But Love and Struggle and doing the right thing are what it's all about....even if there is no such thing as stable equilibrium.

I get the feeling LeGuin was thinking about some game theory when she wrote this as well. Factionalization, cooperation, competition, allocation of resources, compromise, adaptation, survival, steady states, imbalance. It's all in there large and small.

I have this problem, as evidenced above, where every time I try to talk about LeGuin I've got so many ideas all at once and I try to express them all and I'm afraid no one else knows what I'm talking about because so few other people have read ALL THE LEGUIN and I don't want to overexplain or oversimplify. So anyway, go read the story and let's talk about it! (But then of course my opposite fear is that her stories are so good that once you've read them you don't need to talk about it because she explains everything so clearly, and if I want to talk about it maybe it means I'm just being a dork and saying things everyone already got when they read it the first time). I need a book group.

I think I need to go reread all her books and write reviews/analysis one by here. I could start a fan site and a LJ community. It'd be awesome. Because, you know, I have so much free time.
  • Current Mood
    thoughtful thoughtful
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Sleepy drunken

I'm not drunk but every post I've made this evening sure seems drunken. I should sleep. It's sleepiness that's doing it. Ramble.
  • Current Mood
    sleepy sleepy
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Some Headlines

US scraps nuclear weapons watchdog
"The Bush administration is considering policy changes that will alter the role of nuclear weapons in national defence," Mr Markey said. "Given the importance and sheer complexity of the issues raised ... why was the only independent contemplative body studying nuclear weapons disbanded - and disbanded in such a surreptitious fashion?"

Bush Executive Order on Iraq Oil
Executive Order 13303, issued on May 22, 2003, claims to be essential to Iraqi reconstruction efforts. A cursory reading of the Order indicates that its real purpose is to protect oil companies by giving virtual impunity for any activities undertaken relating to Iraqi oil.

Fundraising on Our Dime
Fundraisers will help will fill President Bush's schedule during his month-long working vacation at his ranch near Crawford.

In August, Bush will mix public policy events with six fund-raisers -- in Colorado, California, Oregon, Washington and Minnesota.

The practice allows the administration, in certain cases, to bill taxpayers for half the travel costs of the political activity.

I thought I was being facetious when I said this in another forum:

>> I'd take Castro over GWB any day. And yes, that is scary badness for Bush, not praise for Castro.
> I have to say that's pretty shocking. Theoretically, at least, Bush is democratically accountable to the electorate.

Theoretically, at least. Heck, I'm pretty sure they have elections in Cuba too.

I'd rather be fighting Castro's 40 year regime and have universal health care and live in an essentially self-suficient sustainable society then be fighting Reagan/Bush/Clinton/Bush's 24 year regime and have all this crap.

Maybe not.

Which of course brings to mind Bob Dylan.

Well, I couldn't leave
Unless the old man chased me out,
'Cause I'd already promised
That I'd milk his cows.
I had to say something
To strike him very weird,
So I yelled out,
"I like Fidel Castro and his beard."
Rita looked offended
But she got out of the way,
As he came charging down the stairs
Sayin', "What's that I heard you say?"

I said, "I like Fidel Castro,
I think you heard me right,"
And ducked as he swung
At me with all his might.
Rita mumbled something
'Bout her mother on the hill,
As his fist hit the icebox,
He said he's going to kill me
If I don't get out the door
In two seconds flat,
"You unpatriotic,
Rotten doctor Commie rat.
  • Current Music
    Bob Dylan - Motorpsycho Nightmare