|RIP Ursula K. Le Guin (1929-2018)|
Ursula K. Le Guin died on Monday at the age of 88. She was, as I’ve said before, “a national – nay, international, nay, intergalactic – treasure.”
I’ve often wondered why people mourn celebrities the way we do in our celebrity-obsessed age. After all, I didn’t know Le Guin personally. Sadly, I never even met her once. But I have to admit that her death has hit me pretty hard this week. (I’m not the only one: see this list of SFF authors’ commemorations).
Le Guin combined literary beauty with philosophical depth in a way nobody else ever did, nor, I suspect, ever will again. She could make you feel as deeply as she could make you think. She could wiggle into your consciousness to plant seeds of questions and ways of seeing you had no way of imagining, at least not before she had cast her authorial spell. She possessed the ansible that could communicate directly with the reader’s deepest core of being. Her dreams could change your reality.
I think Le Guin’s work has meant a lot to me because Le Guin was not merely an entertainer. She was an educator. Her work contains profound lessons for those open to learning them. I thought that the best way to commemorate her on this blog would be to list some of the lessons she has taught us and will continue to teach us as long as people keep reading her work. (It is a bittersweet coincidence that I will for the first time be introducing students to The Left Hand of Darkness in my philosophy and science fiction course this semester).