Go Back   Freethought Forum > The Marketplace > Arts & Literature

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #851  
Old 01-15-2018, 08:52 PM
Stephen Maturin's Avatar
Stephen Maturin Stephen Maturin is offline
Refreshingly Stupid
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Juggalonia
Posts: VMMLXXXV
Default Re: BREAKING: Sometimes Famous People Die

There are very few truly legendary sportscasters in the world. The late, great Keith Jackson was one of them.
__________________
"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." ~ Louis D. Brandeis

"Psychos don't explode when sunlight hits them, I don't give a fuck how crazy they are." ~ S. Gecko

"What the fuck is a German muffin?" ~ R. Swanson
Reply With Quote
Thanks, from:
beyelzu (01-16-2018), The Man (01-15-2018)
  #852  
Old Yesterday, 12:34 PM
JoeP's Avatar
JoeP JoeP is offline
[thanks] whisperer
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: England/Miisaland
Gender: Male
Posts: XXMMMCDVII
Images: 18
Default Re: BREAKING: Sometimes Famous People Die

Hugh Masekela, South African jazz trumpeter, dies aged 78 | Music | The Guardian

A true icon.
__________________

:roadrun:
Free thought! Please take one!

:unitedkingdom:   :southafrica:   :unitedkingdom::finland:       :eur:       :m&ms::m&ms::twix::twix: (rotated 180°):m&ms::m&ms:
Reply With Quote
Thanks, from:
ceptimus (Yesterday), Kamilah Hauptmann (Yesterday), lisarea (Yesterday), mickthinks (Yesterday), The Man (Yesterday), Watser? (Yesterday)
  #853  
Old Yesterday, 03:00 PM
JoeP's Avatar
JoeP JoeP is offline
[thanks] whisperer
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: England/Miisaland
Gender: Male
Posts: XXMMMCDVII
Images: 18
Default Re: BREAKING: Sometimes Famous People Die

Eh oh.

Teletubbies' Tinky Winky actor Simon Shelton dies aged 52 - BBC News

__________________

:roadrun:
Free thought! Please take one!

:unitedkingdom:   :southafrica:   :unitedkingdom::finland:       :eur:       :m&ms::m&ms::twix::twix: (rotated 180°):m&ms::m&ms:
Reply With Quote
Thanks, from:
Ari (Yesterday), ceptimus (Yesterday), Kamilah Hauptmann (Yesterday), Limoncello (Yesterday), lisarea (Yesterday), The Man (Yesterday), Watser? (Yesterday)
  #854  
Old Yesterday, 06:11 PM
Watser?'s Avatar
Watser? Watser? is offline
Fishy mokey
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Furrin parts
Posts: LMMMCCCXVI
Default Re: BREAKING: Sometimes Famous People Die

I came in here to post that.

__________________
:typingmonkey:
Reply With Quote
Thanks, from:
ceptimus (Yesterday), JoeP (Yesterday), lisarea (Yesterday)
  #855  
Old Yesterday, 11:55 PM
Kamilah Hauptmann's Avatar
Kamilah Hauptmann Kamilah Hauptmann is offline
Illegitimi non carborundum, mater irrumator praetor.
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: MMMDCCCXC
Default Re: BREAKING: Sometimes Famous People Die

Ursula K. Le Guin, Acclaimed for Her Fantasy Fiction, Is Dead at 88 - The New York Times
__________________
Sometimes you herp a derp, sometimes the derp herps you.

:BC: :canada:
Reply With Quote
Thanks, from:
chunksmediocrites (Today), Crumb (Today), erimir (Yesterday), The Man (Today), Watser? (Today)
  #856  
Old Today, 12:04 AM
Crumb's Avatar
Crumb Crumb is offline
Cmurb!
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Cascadia
Gender: Male
Posts: LVMMDCLXXVI
Blog Entries: 22
Images: 355
Default Re: BREAKING: Sometimes Famous People Die

Somehow I have managed to never read any of her books. I guess I should check some out.
__________________
:joecool2: :cascadia: :ROR: :portland: :joecool2:
Reply With Quote
  #857  
Old Today, 12:17 AM
fragment's Avatar
fragment fragment is offline
weird citrus golem
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: New Zealand
Gender: Male
Posts: VDI
Blog Entries: 8
Images: 142
Default Re: BREAKING: Sometimes Famous People Die

Sad news, she's one of my favourites. An original and inspired voice.

Crumb, The Dispossessed and Left Hand of Darkness are essential reading, IMO. I've enjoyed other books in the Hainish Cycle too. I enjoyed the original Earthsea trilogy when I was a kid, and they stand up as an adult reader too.
__________________
the new self :euterpe:
Reply With Quote
Thanks, from:
chunksmediocrites (Today), Crumb (Today), Kamilah Hauptmann (Today), The Man (Today), Watser? (Today)
  #858  
Old Today, 12:26 AM
Watser?'s Avatar
Watser? Watser? is offline
Fishy mokey
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Furrin parts
Posts: LMMMCCCXVI
Default Re: BREAKING: Sometimes Famous People Die

Wow, what a day...

Left Hand of Darkness seconded.
__________________
:typingmonkey:
Reply With Quote
Thanks, from:
Crumb (Today)
  #859  
Old Today, 12:58 AM
The Man's Avatar
The Man The Man is offline
Oh, brilliant.
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Florida
Gender: Bender
Posts: MVCCCXCIV
Default Re: BREAKING: Sometimes Famous People Die

Ah, for fuck's sake. She'd been my favourite living author. If I were in a more coherent frame of mind, I'd write a much longer tribute, but... well, I'll try to collect some observations about a few selected works. I don't know how comprehensible or well organised this will end up being, but hopefully it'll explain at least some of what made her so unique.

First of all, her novels are almost unique among science-fiction and fantasy novels in that violence rarely ever appears, and when it does, it rarely if ever solves anything. Her novels also rarely have outright villains. There are occasionally political forces that are depicted as malign influences - neither of Urras' dominant political entities is depicted particularly favourably, but the people living on Urras are mostly just trying to get by as best they can. Similarly, there are a few characters who act as antagonists in The Left Hand of Darkness, but in most cases, it's not out of malice; it's merely out of a genuine difference of opinion.

That seems almost quaint these days, but at the same time, I'd say it's an entirely necessary counterbalance to the cynicism of the modern age. An awful lot of modern science fiction is largely about why humanity sucks. Le Guin instead writes in the venerable tradition of Star Trek and other utopian science fiction: it's about how humanity can do better.

The Dispossessed is, quite honestly, the single greatest work of utopian science fiction I've ever read. The expected literary qualities are major contributing factors - characterisation, plotting, world-building, prose - but what puts it above all the others is, simply, its realism. It's a vision of how humanity can do much better, but it doesn't pretend that we can ever be perfect. Anarres is, overall, a vast improvement on modern human society, but the novel doesn't pretend that any society will ever be perfect. Violence, sexism, and various other social ills are, for all practical purposes, absent, but while the society purports to be anarchist, offering perfect freedom and equality for all who live there, as the novel progresses it becomes apparent that Anarres has nonetheless developed a de facto government that restricts dissenters' freedom in meaningful ways. And yet, when contrasted with the dominant political entities of Urras (which are not at all subtly veiled analogues of the United States and the Soviet Union) - and, of course, with our own world - it still is unquestionably a utopia.

Her other indispensable novel-length contribution to the genre, to my mind, is The Left Hand of Darkness, which, in addition to being a superb artistic creation on every conceivable level, also serves as a book-length attack on preconceived notions of gender. Society still hasn't caught up. Popular culture still has at best minimal awareness of the existence of non-binary gender identities. The society depicted in Left Hand consists entirely of non-binary gender identities. It's a superb conceit for a novel: the adults of the otherwise humanoid species in the novel's setting are androgynous for three weeks out of the month, and for the fourth (referred to as kemmer, which also gives them an extreme urge to copulate), they're either male or female - and each individual can be either one in any given month. Much of the novel is an examination of how radically different this (alongside the extreme austerity of its climate) makes their culture from any existing human culture, and as a result, it's one of the few novels I've read where the aliens actually do come across as genuinely alien. The novel also depicts substantial influence from Taoism (Le Guin was one of the most notable Western Taoists, and even produced her own edition of the Tao te Ching, though she didn't consider it a translation).

She has probably dozens of other noteworthy works, and I must confess to having read to far too few of them. Earthsea is also justifiably considered a classic (though I'll cop to not having read this series in its entirety yet, either), but the other work I want to discuss is her short story "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas", which is one of three science fiction stories I can think of off the top of my head that is absolutely perfect (the other two are "There Will Come Soft Rains" by Ray Bradbury and "Harrison Bergeron" by Kurt Vonnegut).

I'm going to provide a spoiler warning here, but if you haven't read it, it's on the Internet here (though unfortunately, with occasional typos), and you should really just go read it now. It won't take long; probably five minutes. Moreover, the twist of the story is by now so well known that it probably doesn't qualify as a spoiler any more than Rosebud in Citizen Kane does.

Anyhow, the idea behind the story is that the titular setting, Omelas, is seemingly perfect; everyone is happy, no one wants for anything, and there is essentially no conflict. But it carries with it a terrible secret: in order to maintain this state of affairs, it requires a child to be kept in horrifying misery. The title refers to the people who discover this and just... walk away.

The story doesn't examine what happens to them, or where they go. And the narrator directly admonishes the reader for believing it's impossible for a seemingly perfect society not to have a dark secret. Some of the most profound lines I've ever read in literature are found in this story to this effect:

Quote:
The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist: a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain. If you can't lick 'em, join 'em. If it hurts, repeat it. But to praise despair is to condemn delight, to embrace violence is to lose hold of everything else. We have almost lost hold; we can no longer describe happy man, nor make any celebration of joy.
The story continues in this vein for some time before coming to the city's dark secret. I'd held off describing one of the finest features of Le Guin's work thus far, which is her prose. She is one of the finest writers of prose of the twentieth century, alongside Pynchon, Joyce, and perhaps De Lillo. Besides those three, I can't think of anyone else I've read whom I'd place in her calibre. There are certainly plenty of others, with Orwell the standout example, who were extremely skilled with prose, but Le Guin was one of the few authors who genuinely made prose sing - who, essentially, turned it into poetry. We see this above and throughout all her greatest works.

"The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" doesn't answer all the questions it raises - arguably, it leaves most unanswered. Beyond the obvious ones - where are the people of the title going? What happens to them? - there are more philosophical ones: Are they admirable, or are they cowards? Does their act of departing the city relieve them of complicity in child abuse, or are they simply turning their eyes in a different fashion? It's possible that they are physically unable to help the child in some fashion, but the narration doesn't specify either way. The story has applicability to phenomena like the bystander effect and labour abuses, and this, of course, is one of its many beauties. And the story is also a direct attack on our cynicism, and this, too, is one of its many beauties. But I cannot hope to speak to them all.

While Earthsea is justifiably also considered a classic, The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed are probably her most revolutionary book-length works, and are likely to be the cornerstone of her legacy. I must also confess that it's long been one of my dreams to see both adapted to the screen. I haven't abandoned that dream, but it's rather disappointing to know now that she won't live to see them.

There was probably no one else like her in literature. Her works were ground-breaking in far more ways than I could have hoped to capture in the above text; while other authors now follow in her footsteps, there are, frankly, far too few of them, and I doubt any of them will ever replicate her strengths exactly. An irreplaceable loss.

Cmurb: Sneaky in-between posters already mentioned most of the works I would've mentioned, but hopefully this has still been a useful response by providing further explication of why they're such essential reading. I think I personally will put The Word for World Is Forest on my reading list, as that seems to be another of her most acclaimed works.

Finally, it might also be worth providing a link to give her the final words - this interview with her from just last month proves she maintained as sharp a mind as ever right up to the end.
__________________


“All for ourselves, and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind.” -Adam Smith

“If you took the most ardent revolutionary, vested him in absolute power, within a year he would be worse than the Tsar himself.” -Mikhail Bakunin

FG · last.fm · soundcloud

Last edited by The Man; Today at 01:56 AM.
Reply With Quote
Thanks, from:
Crumb (Today), Kamilah Hauptmann (Today)
  #860  
Old Today, 12:58 AM
chunksmediocrites's Avatar
chunksmediocrites chunksmediocrites is offline
ne plus ultraviolet
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Portland Oregon USA
Gender: Male
Posts: MVCMLIII
Images: 294
Default Re: BREAKING: Sometimes Famous People Die

Ms. Le Guin's writing was amazing and inspiring. I love in the EarthSea series how she writes sparingly, but with a few lines creates a fascinating world; I can see the ground beneath the cedar dappled in sunlight when she describes it, taste the cool air by the spring. It likely helped that I read them first at 12, ransacking my much older brother's sci-fi and fantasy paperbacks left behind when he headed off to college, but I re-read them several times as an adult and they held up very well. Memorable and strong characters with emotional depth, in powerful stories.
Her Sci-fi is also excellent. And she was a Portland OR resident; we have a book of poems she wrote to go along with photographs of Thurman Street in the early 1980's just as she saw a wave of gentrification/ development start in the area.
Thank you, Ms. Le Guin!
__________________
Reply With Quote
Thanks, from:
Crumb (Today), The Man (Today), Watser? (Today)
  #861  
Old Today, 01:03 AM
Kamilah Hauptmann's Avatar
Kamilah Hauptmann Kamilah Hauptmann is offline
Illegitimi non carborundum, mater irrumator praetor.
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: MMMDCCCXC
Default Re: BREAKING: Sometimes Famous People Die

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Man View Post
Ah, for fuck's sake. She'd been my favourite living author. If I were in a more coherent frame of mind, I'd write a lengthy tribute, but... + 1409 more words
Please forgive me for finding that amusing. :hide:
__________________
Sometimes you herp a derp, sometimes the derp herps you.

:BC: :canada:
Reply With Quote
  #862  
Old Today, 01:09 AM
The Man's Avatar
The Man The Man is offline
Oh, brilliant.
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Florida
Gender: Bender
Posts: MVCCCXCIV
Default Re: BREAKING: Sometimes Famous People Die

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kamilah Hauptmann View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Man View Post
Ah, for fuck's sake. She'd been my favourite living author. If I were in a more coherent frame of mind, I'd write a lengthy tribute, but... + 1409 more words
Please forgive me for finding that amusing. :hide:
It's fine. My post turned out longer than I'd expected it to (and I amended the text you quoted to reflect that fact before discovering you'd already quoted it), but ordinarily, I don't consider 1409 words to be a particularly long piece of writing; it doesn't usually take me long to write that much (and even in my current state, that post couldn't have taken me more than an hour and three minutes, as indicated by the time stamps. Also, I suspect your word count includes my excerpt from "Omelas", though I didn't double-check this; that's probably at least 100 words). Regardless, covering everything I'd like to cover about her works, even at a cursory level, would probably have at least quadrupled the word count. I wouldn't have been surprised if, were I in a better frame of mind, I could write 10,000 words about her novels just from memory. (Of course, that would take me more than an hour.)
__________________


“All for ourselves, and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind.” -Adam Smith

“If you took the most ardent revolutionary, vested him in absolute power, within a year he would be worse than the Tsar himself.” -Mikhail Bakunin

FG · last.fm · soundcloud
Reply With Quote
Reply

  Freethought Forum > The Marketplace > Arts & Literature


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

 

All times are GMT +1. The time now is 02:54 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.2
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Page generated in 0.22532 seconds with 15 queries