"I think hard times are coming when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine some real grounds for hope. We will need writers who can remember freedom. Poets, visionaries—the realists of a larger reality."Them's fightin' words - for a larger cause.
We are moving into truly terrible times. Look at the snowbelt around Buffalo, the disappearing glaciers of Glacier National Park, and the deep, deep drought in the west that threatens global food supply, for glimpses of our future.
Look at the corporate takeover of our political system, the loathing of knowledge and science that is all the rage, at the continued popularity of the Fox News propaganda network, how the Confederacy is finally winning the Civil War, to see just how unable we are becoming to cope with the reality pressing down on us.
As I write this, scenes from Ferguson in advance of the announcement of the grand jury's findings look like war preparation. We also see now what the militarization of police around the country will mean if people start getting upset about the weight of oppression, poverty, discrimination, and repression hanging over our discontent, fear, and anxiety.
"...we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being..."Sounds like a mission, and one I hope to engage with more courage as this world moves headlong into deeper crises on multiple levels. More and more now, I believe in the power of stories, poems, and many forms of art to get us out of our heads, to help break through the cultural fog that surrounds us and makes it hard to SEE reality, even as it presses upon us on so many levels of our lives.
More and more I believe in metaphor and images to break us open, or to break us down, or to kick the props out from under us that hold us in this increasingly alienating and disempowering society.
Le Guin has it right. The corporate world that steals the talents of writers for its own profit is the same corporate world that is stealing from us the means to have dignified, wholesome, lives of integrity and truth.
"The profit motive often is in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art—the art of words."I found myself cheering at my computer.
Thank you, Ursula Le Guin, for calling us to this mission.
Ursula K. Le Guin's fiery speech, and the overwhelming reaction to it (full text and video)