25 August 2014

The Dispossessed through the rear-view mirror.

Hello, Readers, and thanks for stopping by.  

I just finished reading Ursula K. LeGuin's The Dispossessed. Honestly, I can say that LeGuin's wonderful story has helped to make me a more aware writer and reader which will in turn lead me to be better at both.  With the increasing transparency of our societal problems here in the USA, especially as we mourn and bury Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO., today, this book matters.  The ideas within it matter, because power, no matter where it is held, eventually gets abused.  Always.  No matter how grand or pure the intentions of those who hold or seek power, power gets abused.  There are myriad ways that power is abused, but the reasons for power abuse stem from a systematic truth about power:
Power creates inertia.
And inertia is not resistance to movement; it is resistance to change.  This is what Ursula K. LeGuin communicates through her writing as we follow this picaresque tale of Shevek, a physicist.  LeGuin works through monumental amounts of information on politics and science and being human without dredging into the pedantic.  

Personally, I found it incredibly difficult to get through the first one hundred pages, because of how much was implied by these vibrant characters and the deep contrasts between being one who owns property and one who has all things in common, but once I climbed those 100 pages, the view was incredible.  LeGuin deftly maneuvers and guides the reader around cairns of broken logic, through spindly forests of tired cliches to reveal a truth behind everything we humans have ever heard about any societal structure: fear.  
Fear specifically of change and of therefore losing one's power to keep things the same drives every social structure.  Sadly, wonderfully, LeGuin points out that we as a species fear that which is our greatest single capacity: change, and its vehicle, learning.  

That said, The Dispossessed does have some roughness that may trip up readers new to LeGuin.  Namely, the writing, despite portraying vivid and believable and, yes, likable characters, LeGuin's style in The Dispossessed can seem detached, even clinical at times, but I encourage you as readers and as writers to push through and see that even this style which may be off-putting has a purpose in this masterfully crafted narrative.  

As always, thanks for reading.  
Please share any books that you feel have made you into a better reader and writer below.  Or, if you'd be willing, share how The Dispossessed impacted your thoughts.  
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