Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: imagination

“Words Are My Matter” ~ Ursula K. Le Guin

Yesterday, I finally began reading Ursula K. Le Guin‘s, Words are My Matter : Writings About Life and Books, 2000-2016, with a Journal of a Writer’s WeekWords Are My Matter

I got a few pages in and had to put it down—strange because I’ve read her short stories and novellas and was always furiously eager to keep reading…

The difference with Words Are My Matter is that it contains Le Guin’s essays.

She carefully begins the book with an explanation of how radically different essay writing is from her more natural storytelling or poetry creation—and, her essays are so amazingly full with ripe ideas that I felt a need to slow down and digest…

Another thing I decided was that I would not collect excerpts for a blog post about the book—I saw no way to take such remarkable writing and pull out pieces to display…

However, I’d completely forgotten that I’d bookmarked an article from BrainPickingsUrsula K. Le Guin on Redeeming the Imagination from the Commodification of Creativity and How Storytelling Teaches Us to Assemble Ourselves.

Well, since Maria Popova, author of BrainPickings, has excerpted the book, I can “blame” her for “literary dissection” and share some of this book that all writers should read (non-writing readers and publishers would be well-served digesting it, too...)

“In America the imagination is generally looked on as something that might be useful when the TV is out of order. Poetry and plays have no relation to practical politics. Novels are for students, housewives, and other people who don’t work. Fantasy is for children and primitive peoples. Literacy is so you can read the operating instructions. I think the imagination is the single most useful tool mankind possesses. It beats the opposable thumb. I can imagine living without my thumbs, but not without my imagination.”

I should have mentioned, I’m not sharing All the excerpts from Maria’s article :-)

Here’s one about Literature:

“Nothing else does quite as much for most people, not even the other arts. We are a wordy species. Words are the wings both intellect and imagination fly on. Music, dance, visual arts, crafts of all kinds, all are central to human development and well-being, and no art or skill is ever useless learning; but to train the mind to take off from immediate reality and return to it with new understanding and new strength, nothing quite equals poem and story.”

And, why imagination is so important:

“All of us have to learn how to invent our lives, make them up, imagine them. We need to be taught these skills; we need guides to show us how. Without them, our lives get made up for us by other people.”

And, one last excerpt—begun in Maria’s article and searched for in Le Guin’s book by me (for more words than Maria used...), though I haven’t gone against my claim up there—“…I would not collect excerpts for a blog post about the book…”; because all I did was copy the beginning and paste it into my KIndle app—I grabbed this, I didn’t “collect” it :-)

“What a child needs, what we all need, is to find some other people who have imagined life along lines that make sense to us and allow some freedom, and listen to them. Not hear passively, but listen.

“Listening is an act of community, which takes space, time, and silence.

“Reading is a means of listening.

“Reading is not as passive as hearing or viewing. It’s an act: you do it. You read at your pace, your own speed, not the ceaseless, incoherent, gabbling, shouting rush of the media. You take in what you can and want to take in, not what they shove at you fast and hard and loud in order to overwhelm and control you. Reading a story, you may be told something, but you’re not being sold anything. And though you’re usually alone when you read, you are in communion with another mind. You aren’t being brainwashed or co-opted or used; you’ve joined in an act of the imagination.”

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Friday Fantasy ~ Number Twenty-Five

Fable of The Distracted Dragon

~ He wasn’t sure what the trouble was.

Fable of The Distracted Dragon

Image courtesy of daniele vinaccia ~

He’d ruled this part of the coast for a thousand years.

The humans did what he said—until a few days ago

He also thought his fire-breath was starting to cool down.


He was direct in his actions.

He’d been evoked a few days ago by the local wizard.

He was here to protect the humans and he was invisible.

His mission wasn’t to kill—merely chase the dragon away


His search for the cause of his woes seemed in vain.

He became morose.

He circled on the scent for hours but could see nothing.


He enjoyed his conjured life, short as it was to be.

His memories were all borrowed from the humans so he could appreciate the humor of a dragon flying in hopeless circles and puffing uselessly against the wind.

He moved in for the coup de grâce


He left the plain and flew over the forest toward the mountain.


He followed the dragon to the mountain and caused a horrible rock-fall, pelting the dragon with boulders and uprooted trees.


He couldn’t enter his lair—he lay confused and weary at the blocked entrance to his treasured magic gems.


He used his borrowed mind to determine his job was done and vanished.


He circled the mountain for months, fearing to join his clan.

He imagined he was the first dragon to be driven insane.

He finally took the long flight—returned whence he came


And so ends the Fable of The Distracted Dragon.

Except to say, there is a moral to this story:

When you’re dealing with a debilitating myth, use your evocative imagination

Copyright, 2014, Alexander M Zoltai
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Friday Fantasy ~~~ Number Ten

~Copyright, 2014, Alexander M Zoltai~

Minotaur of The Shadows

~ It was the same old story—Good against Evil

Minotaur's Mountain

Image courtesy of valium88 at

The mountain was a majestic upthrust seeming to touch the highest clouds.

They said Titan worshiped the sun, living at the peak of the mountain.

They said Minotaur lived in the shadows, inside the mountain, surrounded by a maze of tunnels leading out.

The people in the ring of villages surrounding the mountain’s base were ordinary, industrious folk.

They had their faults but persisted in their ordinary, industrious way

Air Handmaiden was an Unknown.


Titan seemed to have lived on the mountain forever.

People were uncertain about when Minotaur had arrived.

Air Handmaiden knew the Truth


Jasbran had discovered the first tunnel, which led to the Minotaur’s first seizure of people—ten from five villages.

Naturally, folks prayed to Titan for aid.

Naturally, Titan seemed not to answer


Over the years, 99 more villagers joined Minotaur in his lair.

Over the years, many attempts were made to climb the mountain and attain Titan’s abode.

Finally, on the eve of Sanbluian in the year of Tacnos-549, Jasbran’s grandchild, Thenon, reached the peak.

He didn’t see Titan but proceeded to make his herbal infusion on his camp-stove, poured the first cup over his head, and prayed:

“Oh, Titan, Master of the mountain!

“Come to our aid!

“Help us fight the Minotaur and bring our people back to their homes !!”

His thoughts ended the prayer with, if they still live

The moons had risen, the air was frigid, and Thenon saw a strange cloud.

It was drawing nearer, descending toward where he stood.

As it approached, he thought he saw a body forming from its vaporous substance.

Yes! — an ethereal being alighted in front of him and said:

“I am the Handmaiden of the Air.

“I have told Titan of your prayer.

“He begs your indulgence as he prepares an answer.”

Thenon tried to speak—wheezed out the words, “I—I thought Titan lived here

“He does but you can not yet see him.”

“Wh—What must I do?”


She disappeared—a mere cloud-form remained

Thenon sat by the camp-stove and shivered.


More than strange

A sudden sleep enveloped him and he dreamed


Titan was there, magnificent in His effulgence.

“Thenon, I give you greeting and avow your courage, yet wonder if you have understanding.”

“Titan! I am speechless

“Perhaps not—yet, listen.

“Minotaur is as tenuous as the Handmaiden, formed of thoughts—thoughts ill-beseeming the folk in your villages. If you have found your full voice, tell me what you think.”

Thenon cleared his throat and said:

“You say the Minotaur is not real, a phantom of our thoughts?”

“Not your  thoughts, dear Thenon. You came to Me, the others stay in the villages, cringing in fear.”

“Is the Minotaur not to be feared?”

“You understand yet keep yourself from knowing you understand.”

Thenon wondered

“Thenon, cast back in your mind. Recall the actions of your people. Do you see them gathering together and fearfully retelling the stories of the Minotaur’s rampages?”


“Cast yet deeper. See the co-incidence of their most fearful gatherings with Minotaur’s attacks.”

Thenon played-out the scenes in his quivering mind—saw the connections

“Very good, Thenon. Now descend and bring this awareness to your people.”

Thenon awoke.


Air Handmaiden was with him as he made his way to the base of the mountain.

She filled his mind with Words, Sentences—Verbal Remedies.

When he reached the first village, she was gone and he appeared to have just been soaked by rain.

He met with the people and told them of his Dream on the mountain.

Few believed him.

He shared the Proofs from the Handmaiden—few understood.


Thenon now lived in the forest beyond the villages.

He had the Handmaiden as an occasional Visitor.

He had his memory of Titan.

He had the weight of the reality of how long it would take to convince enough people


The people ever so gradually replaced themselves.

The children listened to Thenon—understood the power of imagination

As Thenon began to reach his terminal age—approached ever-nearer the True Realm of Titan—he nearly glowed with the realization that the end was near.

The end of Minotaur—the re-beginning of a Clean, Ordinary, Industrious Life


As Thenon’s body died and his spirit ascended towards Titan, he knew that, eventually, the People would evolve beyond ordinary, maintain their industriousness—as long as they remained Clean
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Mind or Reality ~ Which Came First?

There have been various explorations on this blog about the writer’s mind and the reader’s mind. And, we’ve also explored various realities.

Try putting both words , “reality” and “mind” together, in the search box at the upper right, the one with the little magnifying glass, and you can see what we’ve already discussed.

Today, I want to broaden the discussion out to anyone’s mind and how it either creates reality or is created by reality.

I’m not going to state a definite opinion (though, you might infer it from the “voice” of this post).


A child is born with a mind. Does it have patterns already associated with it? Or, is it “blank”?

If it already has pre-existent patterns of operation, does that mean that it reaches out and molds whatever is outside the body into a “personal” reality?

If it’s blank, does it just accept whatever exists outside it as fact and build on that?

What about thoughts and feelings? Are they both part of the mind?

Why should it matter what we think or feel about the mind and reality?

If you could read and understand that last sentence you may have a clue about why it could matter

There are enough studies and articles about mind and reality to build a staircase to the Moon and there seems to be no strong consensus on which came first.

Oh! There’s also the debate about whether the brain and the mind are the same thing or if the mind somehow includes the brain but operates “above” it.

And, we probably shouldn’t ignore the various views on what the word “reality” actually means and the various “kinds” of realities people postulate: social reality, personal reality, physical reality, imaginary reality, consensus reality, etc.

My reality recently got a kick in its mental/emotional ass. My view of the world and the importance of various supposed priorities is evolving and mutating. I’ve always wondered about what’s real and how I could know it and the last week has taken my wonderment to a new playing field.

The Game continues but the Rules are changing

If enough of you comment on the questions of this post, I’ll weave a part two tomorrow. If the comments are sparse, I may weave tomorrow’s post out of thin air.
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