Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Fantasists and Sociologists

"At this point, realism is perhaps the least adequate means of understanding or portraying the incredible realities of our existence. A scientist who creates a monster in the laboratory; a librarian in the library of Babel; a wizard unable to cast a spell; a space ship having trouble in getting to Alpha Centauri: all these may be precise and profound metaphors of the human condition. 
"Fantasists, whether they use the ancient archetypes of myth and legend or the younger ones of science and technology, may be talking as seriously as any sociologist – and a good deal more directly – about human life as it is lived, and as it might be lived, and as it ought to be lived. 
"For after all, as great scientists have said and as all children know, it is above all by the imagination that we achieve perception, and compassion, and hope." 
– Ursula Le Guin, National Book Award acceptance speech (1972), in The Language of the Night: Essays on Fantasy and Science Fiction
A fire has gone out.

But then again...
"It's nothing to do with eternity," said Shevek, grinning, a thin shaggy man of silver and shadow. "All you have to do to see life as a whole is to see it as mortal. I'll die, you'll die; how could we love each other otherwise? The sun's going to burn out, what else keeps it shining?" 
The Dispossessed (1974)