Monday, November 03, 2008

Much of fantasy writing, she adds, is "about power - just look at Tolkien. It's a means to examine what it does to the person who has it, and to others." A believer, with Shelley, that "the great instrument of moral good is the imagination", she says: "If you cannot or will not imagine the results of your actions, there's no way you can act morally or responsibly. Little kids can't do it; babies are morally monsters - completely greedy. Their imagination has to be trained into foresight and empathy."

Ursula Le Guin
in an interview with the Guardian

and a cool sound byte, on JK Rowling...
She has many virtues, but originality isn't one of them.

(read the whole interview, ULG is not being nasty.)

and talking about JKR and originality, we find JKR did express the above sentiments also - no, not about her originality but about imagination...

"Unlike any other creature on this planet, humans can learn and understand, without having experienced. They can think themselves into other people's minds, imagine themselves into other people's places.

Of course, this is a power, like my brand of fictional magic, that is morally neutral. One might use such an ability to manipulate, or control, just as much as to understand or sympathise.

And many prefer not to exercise their imaginations at all. They choose to remain comfortably within the bounds of their own experience, never troubling to wonder how it would feel to have been born other than they are. They can refuse to hear screams or to peer inside cages; they can close their minds and hearts to any suffering that does not touch them personally; they can refuse to know.

I might be tempted to envy people who can live that way, except that I do not think they have any fewer nightmares than I do. Choosing to live in narrow spaces can lead to a form of mental agoraphobia, and that brings its own terrors. I think the wilfully unimaginative see more monsters. They are often more afraid.

What is more, those who choose not to empathise may enable real monsters. For without ever committing an act of outright evil ourselves, we collude with it, through our own apathy."

This is all from the Havard address and there is a gem just following the above quote -

"...the fact that we touch other people's lives simply by existing."

Just as well, I do not value originality too much any way!


Harish Suryanarayana said...

Interesting interview. I have not read any Ursula Le Guin's books or heard of her before this. Maybe I should.

Neha said...

I haven't read Le Guin either, but I have read/heard about her often in other literature including in the movie Jane Austen Book Club. Yes, she is on my to-read list too.

Reluctant Warrior said...

Originality is not about invention, it could never be. Its about discovery.

There is nothing original about falling in love or raising a child or mourning a loss. Yet, for the one who has experienced these, it is the most original experience they could imagine.

To borrow a quote from Good Will Hunting - Do you think I can know everything about you (an orphan) just because I have read Oliver Twist