Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Ursula K. Le Guin (b.21/10/29) - The Dispossessed and some poems.

                                 Picture by Benjamin Reed

American. One of my favourite writers  A daughter of an anthropologist and a writer. Organised and took part in non-violent demonstrations against atomic bomb testing and the war in Vietnam.Over the years her frequent critiques of  state  power, coupled with her rejection of capitalism and a fascination with alternative systems of political economy, place her within the anarchist tradition. An imaginative, questioning mind, now in her  eighties , still creating and pushing boundaries,battling the system, a fine writer of poetry too,which she has been writing since 1959. Her poems are both earthy and transcendent, humourous too with a bite, the fruits of of over a half century writing.
Ther following is  from one of her many science- fiction novels, The Dispossessed,  a very interesting book that explores how an anarchist society would work. A vivid portrait of an anarchist utopia. A society without  government, laws police, courts , corporations, money, salaries, profit, organised religion or private property. Shrevek is the first traveller from Anarres, a moon settled 200 years previously by anarchist exiles, to visit Urras, the mother planet. Atro is a physicist on Urras.
Following this I have included three fine poems from her.

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' Atro had once explained too him how this was managed, how the sergeants could give the privates orders, how the lieutenants could, give the privates and the sergeants orders, how the liutenants could, give the privates and the sergeants orders, how the captains . . . and so on and so on up to the generals, who could give everyone else orders and need take them from none, except the Commander in Chief. Shevek had listenened with incredulous disgusr ' You call that organisation? he had inquired. ' Yu even call it discipline? But it is neither. It is a coercive mechanism of extraordinary inefficiency - a kind of seventh millenium steam engine! With such a rigid and fragile structure what could be done that was worth doing? This had given Atro a chance to argue the worth of warfarevas the breeder of courage and manliness and the weeder out of the unfit; but the very line of his argument had forced him to concede the effectivesness of guerillas, organised from below, self-disiplined. ' But that only works bwhen the people think they're fighting for something of their own, you know, their homes, or some notion or other,' the old man had said. Shrevek had dropped the argument. He now continued it, in the darkening basement among the stacked crates of unlabelled chemicals. He explained to Atro that he now understood why the army was organised as it was. It was indded quite necessary. No rational form of organisation would serve the purpose. He simply had not understood the purpose was to enable men with machine guns to kill unarmed men and women easily and in great quantities when told to do so. Only he could not see where courage, or manliness, or fitness, entered in.'

Reprinted from: The Dispossesed (1974)

High Desert

Out there, there is another way to be.
There is a rising brightness in the rock,
a singing in the silence of the tree.
Something is always moving, running free,
as quick and still as quail move in a flock.
The hills out here know a hard way to be.
I habve to listen for it patiently:
a drumming vcanter slowing to a walk,
a flutter in the silence of a tree.
The  owl's call from the rimrock changes key.
What door will open to the flicker's knock?
Out here there is another way to be,
described by the high circles of a hawk
above what hides in silence in the tree.
The cottonwoods in their simplicity
talk softly on, as hidden waters  talk
an almost silent singing in the tree
that says, here is another way to be.


I will grow fingernails
to scratch the scab
that stops the sore's lips on  the scream
the pusty whistle of escape
EEEEEeeeoooooo steamboat annie  comin roun the bend
I will grow fingernails
ten feet long and walk on them like stilts
& breathe steam out of my nostrils
& split boards with my eye
don't get near me with your martial arts
unless you want to get split right down between the balls
neat as a colone's chicken
                  I got Real Bad Vibes
I have neen talking to my father
who died in 1960
he's 101 years old not feeling very perky
he get's left out of things
locked out.
                I will grow fingernails
and claw down the Lubyanka
stone by stone by stone.
                                     Yeah. Sure.
Listen, my vibrations areso bad
they're Richter  8-7
look out there in Daly City.
My toenails are growing too.
i can dig up graveyards with them
and dance on the burning ground.
I use the urns for footballs
& my tongue hangs out a yard.
I am WUMMUN, ta doody boo-bah,
but even worse than that I'm me
and feeling mean
                           God's stomach
rumbles like a drum
when I jump on it
when I dance on his chest he snores
when I dance on his giut he farts,
when I dance on his cock he comes
when I dance on his eyes he wakes and all the stones fall down
                    ashes, ashes

all fall down.

                    Get up and dance, creation!


In bed in the fist salt light
with the east ear I hear birds
waking and with the right
Ocean breaking inward from the night.

image by Clifford Harper

poems can be found in:-

Finding my Elegy - New and Selected Poems
- Ursula  K. Le Guin

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