Notes from An Alien

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Tag Archives: what a child needs

“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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