Saturday, November 29, 2014

Ursula LeGuin's important National Book Award Speech

The speech was only six minutes long, it was spoken slowly and with pauses.  Ursual LeGuin spoke upon receiving the National Book Award.  A fantasy writer, for the most part, she is by no means out of touch with what's going on in the world -- the world of publishing, the world of capitalism where the sales departments sometimes have editorial sway.

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

I have been feeling, thinking, despairing because it seems to me that capitalism is a force impossible to combat --  no one seems to be trying and no one can do it alone.  I'm sure that my feelings about the ugliness of capitalism's power in American, and in the world, as everything is seen in terms of financial worth, are not mine alone.  I SO much hope there are many writers out there just as fearful as I am.  LeGuin referred, indirectly but very obviously, to the tug of war between Amazon and Hachette that has, perhaps been resolved.

It's wonderful to hear a quiet, reasoned voice say that capitalism can go the way of the divine rights of kings. The world needs a philosophy far more humane than the profit motive, far more attuned to the ecological disaster the world is headed into.  Perhaps I can allow myself to be a little bit hopeful -- it's a new thought for me.


Lynn Guardino said...

Here, here! I join you in your feelings about the rapid advancement of capitalism and the resultant ruination of society. Black Friday, the perfect example. Greed. All of course on a "local" level but capitalism in action nonetheless. Why aren't people lining up to buy art or the written word instead of large screen t.v.'s that are going to take their power as humans completely away. Wake up everyone.

barbara judge said...

June -- your post promotes the idea of freedom from corporate rule. It will be a long tough road but I do see inklings of change beginning. We can't foretell the future but we also cannot lose hope that we the people will not be bought off by the corporate world. Your post led me to the Guardian newspaper article (online) which details Ursula's speech at the national book awards ceremony. thanks for steering me in that direction. -- barbara

Kass said...

I've watched this speech a couple of times. Her delivery really made me consider what she was saying.