Monday, April 22, 2024

Names for Things

 If I ask myself why I do certain, in some sense altruistic, things, the answer that seems most apt is "because I don't want to live in a world where..." I don't want to live in a world where no "rational" person voted, or made efforts to conserve energy, just because their contribution made no significant difference; I don't want to live in a world where we turn our backs on the weak, the suffering and the needy, because they are not productive; I don't want to live in a world where we always counted the cost before engaging in acts of helping others. This acknowledges the fact that every decision we make is not just a response to a known and certain world, but is part of co-creating that world for what it is. 

 -- Iain McGilchrist, The Matter With Things, p 1144

As I slowly reread both Ursula K Le Guin's Always Coming Home, and Iain McGilchrists' The Matter With Things, I find myself continually seeing McGilchrist's book as an immensely long footnote: giving in expository form what Le Guin has distilled into vision and story. Just in case you thought it couldn't be made into exposition, that it couldn't be rationally laid out end to end in a single argument: here it is. For those so crippled by the shoes of the modern world as not to be able to walk so far on their own.

I know that in fact McGilchrist read and admired Le Guin, so the fancy maybe isn't so farfetched.

The joy, the pure joy, of having names for things at last. All these gifts. And so little to give back, and that so uncertain, in these troubled times! But no matter. We go on, as we always have, co-creating the world: it's not as if we could stop.

Lots of love, dear ones.


Nimble said...

Yes. I just finished The Dispossessed, a re-read after 30 years. I had forgotten that coming home is an important concept in that book too. And being able to bring only 'empty hands'.

Dale said...

Yes! I reread The Dispossessed last month, and Left Hand of Darkness. It struck me that the book supposedly about property was actually about gender, and the book supposedly about gender was actually about property :-) Possibly what I most like about Le Guin is how she always scoots a little sideways and doesn't quite talk about what she announced as her topic: like those poets who give confusing, apparently irrelevant titles to their poems.