Tag Archives: Ursula K. Le Guin

Facts and Opinions that matter this week

CCM Tackaberry skates worn by Jean Béliveau when he scored his 500th goal, on February 11, 1971. These are at the lac aux Castors Pavilion, Mount Royal, Quebec, Canada. Photo by Simon Pierre Barrette via Wikipedia, Creative Commons

READ: Thank you, Jean Béliveau. Photo of the skates Béliveau wore for his 500th goal by Simon Pierre Barrette via Wikipedia, Creative Commons

Facts and Opinions this week features two elegant pieces about people who mattered in the worlds of sports and music: E. Kaye Fulton’s tribute to “glorious gentleman” Jean Béliveau (open), and Brian Brennan’s Brief Encounter with conductor Mario Bernardi, who veered off the beaten path (subscription).

From the academy, don’t miss the essay by economist Warwick Smith, who won a New Philosopher award for The perils of the last human: flaws in modern economics. Our fate is not determined, even by the economy, Smith insists: “The fact that our economic system is a social construct means that we have made a choice, even if an unconscious one, and that we can remake that choice.”

Also from the academy comes a call by John Wright to repair the shattered democracy in some Western countries,  Ideal democracy hears both whispers and shouts.

Rod Mickleburgh marked World AIDS Day with a profile of Julio Montanter, a global leader in the war on HIV/AIDS, and Michael Sasges looked into the history of one of the most popular pieces of season music and the man, John Mason Neale, who popularized O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.

Canadians of a certain age, and people in dozens of countries helped by her work, will remember humanitarian Lotta Hitschmanova, (AKA the “Atomic Mosquito”), profiled on on the 125th anniversary of her birth by Joyce Thierry Llewellyn.

Azerbaijan's Kelaghavi headscarfs are key to Azerbaijan culture. Photo by Retlaw Snellac, Creative Commons

Kelaghavi headscarfs are key to Azerbaijan culture. Photo by Retlaw Snellac, Creative Commons

In reports, we offer a photographic sample  of the cultural ‘intangibles’ UNESCO deems world-class treasures; a crime/science piece about how the cold case of the English King Richard III was solved 529 years after his killing; and a global report on transparency and corruption, in which it seems Nothing is rotten in Denmark.

Facts and Opinions columnists this week turned their attention to the far east and the United States.  Jonathan Manthorpe  nods at Shakespeare with Uneasy lies the head that wears Thailand’s Crown (paywall), and Tom Regan writes on the incendiary issue of police killings, Why the United States is perilous for young men.

We continue our ongoing work on energy and climate change issues, with upcoming stories on a pipeline protest on a British Columbia mountain, a video, and the third in Jim McNiven’s THOUGHTLINES series on oil price changes. Meantime, read Chris Wood’s column From Lima to Burnaby: the ‘Glocal’ Response to Climate (subscription), and drop  by our photo gallery, Pipeline Protest on Burnaby Mountain.

Finally, in case you missed them earlier:

Recent columns include On being a feminist by Tom Regan; Ferguson’s Damned Details, by Deborah Jones; and Jonathan Manthorpe on Zimbabwe, today – The Rise of “Gucci Grace,” Zimbabwe’s “First Shopper — and in Manthorpe’s own past, One man’s thrust for survival in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe.

Electric ink and aromapoetry  feature in Andrew Prescott’s science/arts piece about the much discussed “death of the book;” while Michael Sasges unearthed a research report that casts doubt on the effectiveness of bombing ISIS into submission, reported in  
Verbatim: Bombing to lose; air attacks bolster insurgents.

In arts, fans of the TV series Homeland will appreciate a piece about Carrie Mathison, and mental illness on TV, by Meron Wondemaghen, and an appreciation by Susan Fast: Michael Jackson: Posthuman.  Marguerite Johnson writes on grim fairy tales in Reader beware: the nasty new edition of the Brothers Grimm.

Ursula K. Le Guin’s call to action is worth a second look: F&O’s page includes the transcript and video of the American author’s attack on “ignorance and greed,” and demand for respect for artists in a perilous world in need of writers who “see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being.”

READ: Richard III – case closed, 529 years later. Skeleton of Richard III. University of Leicester photo

READ: Richard III – case closed, 529 years later. Skeleton of Richard III. University of Leicester photo

 

 

If you value our journalism, please help sustain us by buying a day pass or subscription. Facts and Opinions is an online journal of first-rate reporting and analysis, in words and images: choice journalism, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O performs journalism for citizens, funded entirely by readers. We do not carry advertising or solicit donations from foundations or causes.

Click here to purchase a $1 day pass or subscription, from at $2.95 per month to $19.95 annually. Subscribe by email using the form on the right to our free FRONTLINES blog. Find news in REPORTS; commentary, analysis, magazine and arts writing in OPINION/FEATURES, and image galleries in PHOTO-ESSAYS.  Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and check our Contents page for regular updates.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Current Affairs Also tagged , , , , , , , , |

Verbatim: Ursula K. Le Guin’s call to action

Ursula K. Le Guin in 2012. Photo by OnceAndFutureLaura via Flickr, Creative Commons

Ursula K. Le Guin in 2012. Photo by OnceAndFutureLaura via Flickr, Creative Commons

November 20, 2014

American author Ursula K. Le Guin on Wednesday slammed the U.S. publishing industry’s “ignorance and greed,” and issued a cri de coeur on behalf of artists in a world where “hard times are coming” and writers will be needed who offer hope and freedom, and “see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being.”

Le Guin won this year’s prestigious Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, given by the U.S. National Book Foundation to recognize “individuals who have made an exceptional impact on this country’s literary heritage.”

The award was announced in September, but presented at a gala on Wednesday, and Le Guin’s frank acceptance speech is garnering global attention for its demand for action. “The profit motive often is in conflict with the aims of art,” she said. “We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings.”

Ursula K. Le Guin. Photo by Marion Wood Kolisch/National Book Foundation

Ursula K. Le Guin. Photo by Marion Wood Kolisch/National Book Foundation

An excerpt, from a transcript from an activist with the Electronic Frontier Foundation:

Thank you Neil (Gaiman, who presented the award), and to the givers of this beautiful reward, my thanks from the heart. My family, my agent, editors, know that my being here is their doing as well as mine, and that the beautiful reward is theirs as much as mine. And I rejoice at accepting it for, and sharing it with, all the writers who were excluded from literature for so long, my fellow authors of fantasy and science fiction — writers of the imagination, who for the last 50 years watched the beautiful rewards go to the so-called realists.

I think hard times are coming when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine some real grounds for hope. We will need writers who can remember freedom. Poets, visionaries — the realists of a larger reality.

Right now, I think we need writers who know the difference between the production of a market commodity and the practice of an art. Developing written material to suit sales strategies in order to maximize corporate profit and advertising revenue is not quite the same thing as responsible book publishing or authorship. (Thank you, brave applauders.)

Yet I see sales departments given control over editorial; I see my own publishers in a silly panic of ignorance and greed, charging public libraries for an ebook six or seven times more than they charge customers. We just saw a profiteer try to punish a publisher for disobedience and writers threatened by corporate fatwa, and I see a lot of us, the producers who write the books, and make the books, accepting this. Letting commodity profiteers sell us like deodorant, and tell us what to publish and what to write. (Well, I love you too, darling.)

Books, you know, they’re not just commodities. The profit motive often is in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art — the art of words.

I have had a long career and a good one. In good company. Now here, at the end of it, I really don’t want to watch American literature get sold down the river. We who live by writing and publishing want — and should demand — our fair share of the proceeds. But the name of our beautiful reward is not profit. It’s name is freedom.

The award is not typically given to science fiction and fantasy writers. But the foundation said Le Guin deserved it because, for four decades, she “defied conventions of narrative, language, character, and genre, as well as transcended the boundaries between fantasy and realism, to forge new paths for literary fiction.”

“Le Guin’s fully imagined worlds challenge readers to consider profound philosophical and existential questions about gender, race, the environment, and society. Her boldly experimental and critically acclaimed novels, short stories, and children’s books, written in elegant prose, are popular with millions of readers around the world.”

The announcement quoted Foundation’s Executive Director Harold Augenbraum: “She has shown how great writing will obliterate the antiquated — and never really valid — line between popular and literary art. Her influence will be felt for decades to come.”

Other award recipients have included John Ashbery, Joan Didion, E.L. Doctorow, Maxine Hong Kingston, Elmore Leonard, Norman Mailer, Toni Morrison, and Tom Wolfe. 

— Deborah Jones

  

 

References and further reading:

Ursula K. Le Guin’s site: http://www.ursulakleguin.com/UKL_info.html 

 

You’ll find lots of great free stories inside our site, but much of our original work is behind a paywall — we do not sell advertising, and reader payments are essential for us to continue our work. Journalism to has value, and we need and appreciate your support (a day pass is $1 and a monthly subscription is less than a cup of coffee). 

Facts and Opinions is an online journal of select and first-rate reporting and analysis, in words and images: a boutique for slow journalism, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O performs journalism for citizens, funded entirely by readers. We do not carry advertising or solicit donations from foundations or causes.

 

Posted in Also tagged , |