01 August 2009

Le Guin on Art and Madness

"Science fiction is not predictive; it is descriptive.

"Predictions are uttered by prophets (free of charge), by clairvoyants (who usually charge a fee, and are therefore more honored in their day than prophets), and by futurologists (salaried). Prediction is the business of prophets, clairvoyants, and futurologists. It is not the business of novelists. A novelist’s business is lying.

"They may use all kinds of facts to support their tissue of lies. They may describe the Marshalsea Prison, which was a real place, or the battle of Borodino, which really was fought, or the process of cloning, which really takes place in laboratories, or the deterioration of a personality, which is described in real textbooks of psychology, and so on. This weight of verifiable place-event-phenomenon-behavior makes the reader forget that he is reading a pure invention, a history that never took place anywhere but in that unlocalized region, the author’s mind. In fact, while we read a novel, we are insane – bonkers. We believe in the existence of people who aren’t there, we hear their voices, we watch the battle of Borodino with them, we may even become Napoleon. Sanity returns (in most cases) when the book is closed.

"Is it any wonder that no truly respectable society has ever trusted its artists?"

- Ursula K. Le Guin

1 comment:

Lifehiker said...

I love Ursula Le Guin. Write on, Ursula!