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Preview — The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin
Where it crossed the roadway, instead of having a gate it degenerated into mere geometry, a line, an idea of boundary. But the idea was real.
It was in fact a quarantine. The wall shut in not only the landing field but also the ships that came down out of space, and the men that came on the ships, and the worlds they came from, and the rest of the universe. It enclosed the universe, leaving Anarres outside, free. Looked at from the other side, the wall enclosed Anarres: the whole planet was inside it, a great prison camp, cut off from other worlds and other men, in quarantine.
Salas had little math, but as long as Shevek could explain physics in the analogic or experimental modes, he was an eager and intelligent listener.
complex concentric shapes made of wire, which moved and changed slowly and inwardly when suspended from the ceiling. She had made these with scrap wire and tools from the craft-supply depot, and called them Occupations of Uninhabited Space.
Everything that had happened to him was part of what was happening to him now. Takver saw no such obscure concatenations of effect/cause/effect, but then she was not a temporal physicist. She saw time naïvely as a road laid out. You walked ahead, and you got somewhere. If you were lucky, you got somewhere worth getting to.
There are souls, he thought, whose umbilicus has never been cut. They never got weaned from the universe.
The delicate concentric mobiles hanging at different levels overhead moved with the introverted precision, silence, mystery of the organs of the body or the processes of the reasoning mind.
“All you have to do to see life whole is to see it as mortal. I’ll die, you’ll die; how could we love each other otherwise?
It was the verbal mode of the Nioti, past and future rammed into one highly charged, unstable present tense.
“Not at all. The politician and the physicist both deal with things as they are, with real forces, the basic laws of the world.”
Mathematicians and physicists, athletes of intellect, do their great work young.
I’m thinking like an Urrasti, he said to himself. Like a damned propertarian. As if deserving meant anything. As if one could earn beauty, or life!
She incarnated all the sexuality the Ioti repressed into their dreams, their novels and poetry, their endless paintings of female nudes, their music, their architecture with its curves and domes, their candies, their baths, their mattresses. She was the woman in the table.
“The law of evolution is that the strongest survives!” “Yes, and the strongest, in the existence of any social species, are those who are most social. In human terms, most ethical. You see, we have neither prey nor enemy, on Anarres. We have only one another. There is no strength to be gained from hurting one another. Only weakness.”
“But we don’t experience the universe only successively,” Shevek said. “Do you never dream, Mr. Dearri?”
Time goes in cycles, as well as in a line. A planet revolving: you see? One cycle, one orbit around the sun, is a year, isn’t it? And two orbits, two years, and so on. One can count the orbits endlessly—an observer can. Indeed such a system is how we count time. It constitutes the timeteller, the clock. But within the system, the cycle, where is time? Where is beginning or end? Infinite repetition is an atemporal process. It must be compared, referred to some other cyclic or noncyclic process, to be seen as temporal. Well, this is very queer and interesting, you see.
Only within each of the great cycles, where we live, only there is there linear time, evolution, change. So then time has two aspects. There is the arrow, the running river, without which there is no change, no progress, or direction, or creation. And there is the circle or the cycle, without which there is chaos, meaningless succession of instants, a world without clocks or seasons or promises.
The baby, again, the animal, they don’t see the difference between what they do now and what will happen because of it. They can’t make a pulley, or a promise. We can.
“No. It is not wonderful. It is an ugly world. Not like this one. Anarres is all dusty and dry hills. All meager, all dry. And the people aren’t beautiful. They have big hands and feet, like me and the waiter there. But not big bellies. They get very dirty, and take baths together, nobody here does that. The towns are very small and dull, they are dreary. No palaces. Life is dull, and hard work. You can’t always have what you want, or even what you need, because there isn’t enough. You Urrasti have enough. Enough air, enough rain, grass, oceans, food, music, buildings, factories, machines, ...more
“It’s an Iotic verb,” Shevek said. “A game the Urrasti play with probabilities. The one who guesses right gets the other one’s property.” He had long ago ceased to observe Sabul’s ban on mentioning his Iotic studies.
Takver was pregnant. Mostly she was sleepy and benign. “I am a fish,” she said, “a fish in water. I am inside the baby inside me.”
Odo wrote: “A child free from the guilt of ownership and the burden of economic competition will grow up with the will to do what needs doing and the capacity for joy in doing it. It is useless work that darkens the heart. The delight of the nursing mother, of the scholar, of the successful hunter, of the good cook, of the skillful maker, of anyone doing needed work and doing it well—this durable joy is perhaps the deepest source of human affection, and of sociality as a whole.” There was an undercurrent of joy, in that sense, in Abbenay that summer. There was a lightheartedness at work ...more
Having sole charge of her in the mornings (they left her in the nursery only while he taught or did volunteer work), he felt that sense of being necessary which is the burden and reward of parenthood.
He would sit the baby on his knees and address wild cosmological lectures to her, explaining how time was actually space turned inside out, the chronon being thus the everted viscera of the quantum, and distance one of the accidental properties of light.
Living in a society where anyone could move whenever and wherever he wanted, an Anarresti tended to look for his friends where he was, not where he had been.
Shevek saw clearly that Takver had lost her young grace, and looked a plain, tired woman near the middle of her life. He saw this more clearly than anyone else could have seen it. He saw everything about Takver in a way that no one else could have seen it, from the standpoint of years of intimacy and years of longing. He saw her as she was.
prolonging their climax as if delaying the moment of death,
Sadik stood watching it as it turned silently seeking its balance. “I wish,” she said at last, carefully, “that I could share it one night over the bed I sleep in the dormitory.
“Well, I think Tir’s a born artist. Not a craftsman—a creator. An inventor-destroyer, the kind who’s got to turn everything upside down and inside out.
“No wonder he haunts you,” she said. “His play. Your book.” “But I’m luckier. A scientist can pretend that his work isn’t himself, it’s merely the impersonal truth. An artist can’t hide behind the truth. He can’t hide anywhere.”
“I don’t judge you at all. I only ask your help, for which I have nothing to give in return.” “Nothing? You call your theory nothing?” “Weigh it in the balance with the freedom of one single human spirit,” he said, turning to her, “and which will weigh heavier? Can you tell? I cannot.
For we each of us deserve everything, every luxury that was ever piled in the tombs of the dead kings, and we each of us deserve nothing, not a mouthful of bread in hunger. Have we not eaten while another starved? Will you punish us for that? Will you reward us for the virtue of starving while others ate? No man earns punishment, no man earns reward.
Inhabitation of Time.