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The End of a Journey That Mattered: RIP Ursula K. Le Guin

Jlynn Frazier

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I think feminism continues and will continue to exist wherever women work in their own way with one another and with men, and wherever women and men go on questioning male definitions of value, refusing gender exclusivity, affirming interdependence, distrusting aggression, seeking freedom always.
— Ursula K. Le Guin, No Time To Spare

I just finished reading No Time To Spare: Thinking About What Matters by Ursula K. Le Guin and am, like many, saddened to hear that she passed today. I can feel her words of wisdom and wit bouncing around in my head. 

Almost a year ago now, she wrote Constructing the Golem on her blog. It was written in response to, the then, newly elected President Trump as only Le Guin would so sharply, critically, and eloquently write. Her truth-telling wisdom spills out onto the page. She names our "creature of the media" President a "media golem." Her wisdom rings true and I will try my best to summarize as simply as I can. STOP. STOP giving him so much attention. Stop feeding into the chaos he creates and feeds off of when you watch him, engage with him on Twitter, or listen to his rhetoric. 

Le Guin lives on through the words she put down on the page filling books for adults and children. Le Guin lives on in the lives of those she has connected with through her work. Le Guin lives on in the lives who have not yet come into the world or have not read her yet. And some will now be inspired to pick up a book and sink into Earthsea, a short story, or her later years writing her blog. And some will meet her down the road and begin a new generation of women and men seeking to define the world, by protecting the world, for all of humanity. 

I believe that I share her concern with the state of the world. I have been thinking a lot lately of my own grandmother who was born just a year prior to Le Guin (though she passed nearly 15 years ago now). I imagine what it would have been like to sit down in a comfy chair and curl up in conversation with Le Guin as she stroked the fur on the back of Pard's neck.

I imagine how our conversation would flow from moments of lightness and laughter at the simple pleasures and perils of life. Then, without skipping a beat, we would flow into moments of serious contention. With a no bullshit style, we would leap together into a discussion of the realities we each see in the escalation of divisive rhetoric and the dividedly dark ways of being in the world. I imagine she might have shared what a great weight this was in her heart. I image she would speak with great candor of the troubles of the world, her fears and her hopes. All that she has learned and what she wishes for the future of planet earth. 

As women growing up in two very different times, I imagine we would talk for hours on end about the important work for feminists, both women and men, to continue by questioning power, patriarchy, and inequality. To bring all of the voices and ideas that are marginalized to the center of things. I imagine she would tell me to never stop questioning and creating. These are pathways to learning, pathways to seeking freedom. RIP UKL. 


Resources:
The Fantastic Ursula K. Le Guin, The New Yorker, October 16, 2016.
Ursula K. Le Guin, Acclaimed for Her Fantasy Fiction, Is Dead at 88, New York Times Obituary, January 23, 2018. 
Neil Gaiman presents lifetime achievement award to Ursula K. Le Guin at 2014 National Book Awards
Ursula K. Le Guin Homepage


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