- Birthday, Books, Quotes, Reading, Writing

“You cannot buy the revolution. You cannot make the revolution. You can only be the revolution. It is in your spirit, or it is nowhere.”

 

Happy birthday, Ursula K. Le Guin! Here are some quotes from the writer.

 

“To learn which questions are unanswerable, and not to answer them: this skill is most needful in times of stress and darkness.”

 

“After all, dictators are always afraid of poets.”

 

“Language is strange.”

 

“The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty: not knowing what comes next.”

 

“Nobody who says, ‘I told you so’ has ever been, or will ever be, a hero.”

 

“It is very hard for evil to take hold of the unconsenting soul.”

 

“Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new.”

 

“I talk about the gods, I an atheist. But I am an artist too, and therefore a liar. Distrust everything I say. I am telling the truth.”

 

“What would that be, a world without war? It would be the real world. Peace was the true life, the life of working and learning and bringing up children to work and learn. War, which devoured work, learning, and children, was the denial of reality.”

 

“Great self-destruction follows upon unfounded fear.”

 

“The individual cannot bargain with the State. The State recognizes no coinage but power: and it issues the coins itself.”

 

“As you read a book word by word and page by page, you participate in its creation, just as a cellist playing a Bach suite participates, note by note, in the creation, the coming-to-be, the existence of the music. And, as you read and re-read, the book of course participates in the creation of you, your thoughts and feelings, the size and temper of your soul.”

 

“The book itself is a curious artifact, not showy in its technology but complex and extremely efficient: a really neat little device, compact, often very pleasant to look at and handle, that can last decades, even centuries. It doesn’t have to be plugged in, activated, or performed by a machine; all it needs is light, a human eye, and a human mind. It is not one of a kind, and it is not ephemeral. It lasts. It is reliable. If a book told you something when you were fifteen, it will tell it to you again when you’re fifty, though you may understand it so differently that it seems you’re reading a whole new book.”

 

“You cannot buy the revolution. You cannot make the revolution. You can only be the revolution. It is in your spirit, or it is nowhere.”

 

“To learn which questions are unanswerable, and not to answer them: this skill is most needful in times of stress and darkness.”

 

“Socrates said, ‘The misuse of language induces evil in the soul.’ He wasn’t talking about grammar. To misuse language is to use it the way politicians and advertisers do, for profit, without taking responsibility for what the words mean. Language used as a means to get power or make money goes wrong: it lies. Language used as an end in itself, to sing a poem or tell a story, goes right, goes towards the truth.A writer is a person who cares what words mean, what they say, how they say it.

Writers know words are their way towards truth and freedom, and so they use them with care, with thought, with fear, with delight. By using words well they strengthen their souls. Story-tellers and poets spend their lives learning that skill and art of using words well. And their words make the souls of their readers stronger, brighter, deeper.”

 

“What sane person could live in this world and not be crazy?”

 

“A writer who wants to write good stuff needs to read great stuff. If you don’t read widely, or read only writers in fashion at the moment, you’ll have a limited idea of what can be done with the English language.”

 

“Ultimately you write alone. And ultimately you and you alone can judge your work. The judgment that a work is complete—this is what I meant to do, and I stand by it—can come only from the writer, and it can be made rightly only by a writer who’s learned to read her own work. Group criticism is great training for self-criticism. But until quite recently no writer had that training, and yet they learned what they needed. They learned it by doing it.”

 

“To make something well is to give yourself to it, to seek wholeness, to follow spirit. To learn to make something well can take your whole life. It’s worth it.”

 

“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.”

 

“We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings.”

 

“All of us have to learn how to invent our lives, make them up, imagine them. We need to be taught these skills; we need guides to show us how. If we don’t, our lives get made up for us by other people.”

 

“My imagination makes me human and makes me a fool; it gives me all the world, and exiles me from it.”

 

John Madera's fiction may be found in Conjunctions, Opium Magazine, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His criticism may be found in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University, John Madera lives in New York City, where he runs Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.

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