She did it again – The Queen of good writing has again amazed me by her writing. She creates a world that is separate from our own but at the same time so much the same as the one we live in. She creates characters which are unlike anyone we have ever met in their powers, but are troubled by the same issues we are troubled by every day.
The main character, Orr, might seem as a weakling at first, but as you read on you see that he is simply a human being, like any of us. We are, I think, so used to “heroic” heroes, heroes that are all handsome, smart, brave, determined, piano playing perfections… Ursula does not take that route, she crates an ordinary man with an exceptional power who is trying to find his way through everyday life.
The interesting thing about the main plot (SPOILER ALERT) is how Ursula argues that our fallible world and fallible humankind in not really capable of creating a perfect solution to current issues – Orr is constantly limited by his humanity. And than the solution presents itself in the form of a new species – created to be peaceful, intelligent and (or so it seems) infallible. Simply a great solution.
The curious thing happened while I was reading this book – I was on my “watch all the movies with James McAvoy” marathon, and one of the movies was Trance (2013, Danny Boyle) about a man who cannot remember where he stashed a priceless work of art he was stealing for a ruthless French d00d (Vincent Cassel). In order to regain those memories he goes to see a hypnotherapist (Rosario Dawson). Once he meets with her all hell breaks loose. There are plots within plots and twists within twists.
And this movie fit perfectly with my reading environment – namely the events as they unfolded in this book. Just as you think you know what is going on, just as the main character accepts the new reality he finds himself in, the ground is ripped from under him and he is left stranded in this strange world of not knowing.
In addition to this short moment of reality and literature somehow coinciding, there is also the situation in Syria – of course in The Lathe of Heaven the world is torn apart because of a third world war that began in the Middle East and the only solution in the book that the main character could think of was the creation of an Alien threat. This somehow seems an unlikely turn of events in the real world for me, but who knows, perhaps….
I love Ursula Le Guin… and this are just some of the reasons why:
“He was alone , and nothing seemed to be real in solitude. He needed somebody, anybody, to talk to, he had to tell them what he felt so that he knew if he felt anything.”
“Are there really people without resentment, without hate, she wondered. People who never go cross-grained to the universe? Who recognize evil, and resist evil, and yet are utterly unaffected by it?”
“Don’t be afraid of your unconscious mind! It’s not a black pit of nightmares. Nothing of the kind! It is the wellspring of health, imagination, creativity. What we call ‘evil’ is produced by civilization, its constraints and repressions, deforming and spontaneous, free self-expression of the personality. The aim of psychotherapy is precisely this, to remove those groundless fears and nightmares, to bring up what’s unconscious into the light of rational consciousness, examine it objectively, and find that there is nothing to fear.”
“You have to help another person. But it’s not right to play God with masses of people. To be God you have to know what you’re doing. And to do any good at all, just believing you’re right and your motives are good isn’t enough.”
“The infinite possibility, the unlimited and unqualified wholeness of being of the uncommitted, the nonacting, the uncarved: the being who, being nothing but himself, is everything.”
“You can keep up that crap for years. But it finally catches up with you. And then you realise all you’ve done is save your shit to drown in.”