Quotes by Ursula K Le Guin

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The bond between true lovers is as close as we come to what endures forever. more...

What you love, you will love. What you undertake you will complete. You are a fulfiller of hope; you are to be relied on. But seventeen years give little armor against despair...Consider, Arren. To refuse death is to refuse life. more...

All or nothing at all, the true lover says, and that's the truth of it. My love will never die, he says. He claims eternity. And rightly. How can it die when it's life itself? What do we know of eternity but the glimpse we get of it when we enter in that bond? more...

The greatest religious problem today is how to be both a mystic and a militant; in other words how to combine the search for an expansion of inner awareness with effective social action, and how to feel one's true identity in both. more...

The quality of the will to power is, precisely, growth. Achievement is its cancellation. To be, the will to power must increase with each fulfillment, making the fulfillment only a step to a further one. The vaster the power gained the vaster the appetite for more. more...

Writing makes no noise, except groans, and it can be done everywhere, and it is done alone. more...

What you select from, in order to tell your story, is nothing less than everything. What you build up your world from, your local, intelligible rational, coherent world, is nothing less than everything. . . . . All human knowledge is local. Every life, each human life is local, is arbitrary, the infinitesimal momentary glitter of a reflection. more...

All knowledge is partial, infinitesimally partial. Reason is a net thrown out into an ocean. What truth it brings in is a fragment, a glimpse, a scintillation of the whole truth. more...

What children don't understand, and can't understand until they grow up some, is how much the whole fabric and process of human society depends on everybody agreeing to ignore, most of the time, the fact that all of us are, most of the time, inadequate, incompetent, pitiful, and, in fact, naked to our enemies. None of us really has very much in the way of spiritual, moral clothing. We dress ourselves in rags. And we agree to say nothing about it. To a very large extent, it is human charity that clothes us. more...

Primitiveness and civilization are degrees of the same thing. If civilization has an opposite, it is war. more...

Almost everything is double like that for adolescents; their lies are true and their truths are lies, and their hearts are broken by the world. They gyre and fall; they see through everything, and are blind. more...

Virginity is now a mere preamble or waiting room to be got out of as soon as possible; it is without significance. Old age is similarly a waiting room, where you go after life's over and wait for cancer or a stroke. The years before and after the menstrual years are vestigial: the only meaningful condition left to women is that of fruitfulness. more...

It is only when science asks why, instead of simply describing how, that it becomes more than technology. When it asks why, it discovers Relativity. When it only shows how, it invents the atom bomb, and then puts its hands over its eye and says, My God what have I done? more...

Great self-destruction follows upon unfounded fear. more...

Scientific truth will out, you can't hide the sun under a stone. more...

First sentences are doors to worlds. more...

Belief in the lie is the life of the lie. more...

Infinite are the arguments of mages, more...

No darkness lasts forever. And even there, there are stars. more...

Manhood is patience. Mastery is nine time patience more...

Life goes on, even if two-headed and glowing faintly in the dark. more...

My Real Children starts quietly, then suddenly takes you on two roller-coaster rides at once, swooping dizzily through a double panorama and ending in a sort of super Sophie's Choice. A daring tour de force. more...

A story rises from the springs of creation, from the pure will to be; it tells itself; I takes its own course, finds its own way, its own words; and the writer's job is to be its medium. more...

The fish in the creek said nothing. Fish never do. Few people know what fish think about injustice, or anything else. more...

I think the mystery of art lies in this, that artists' relationship is essentially with their work - not with power, not with profit, not with themselves, not even with their audience. more...

When in the Land of Property think like a propertarian. Dress like one, eat like one, act like one, be one. more...

Art is action. The way I live my life to its highest degree is by writing, the practice of art. more...

In reading a novel, any novel, we have to know perfectly well that the whole thing is nonsense, and then, while reading, believe every word of it. Finally, when we're done with it, we may find - if it's a good novel - that we're a bit different from what we were before we read it, that we have changed a little... But it's very hard to say just what we learned, how we were changed. more...

Jungians such as Joseph Campbell have generalised such journeys into a set of archetypal events and images. Though they can be useful in criticism, I mistrust them as fatally reductive. "Ah, the Night Sea Voyage!" we cry, feeling that we have understood something important - but we've merely recognised it. Until we are actually on that voyage, we have understood nothing. more...

There was a wall. It did not look important. It was built of uncut rocks roughly mortared. An adult could look right over it, and even a child could climb it. 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 important. For seven generations there had been nothing in the world more important than that wall. Like all walls it was ambiguous, two-faced. What was inside it and what was outside it depended upon which side of it you were on. more...

There is no kingdom like the forests. more...

Music is another way of thinking, or maybe thinking is another kind of music. more...

It's a rare gift, to know where you need to be, before you've been to all the places you don't need to be. more...

See, the thing is, as a writer you are free. You are about the freest person that ever was. Your freedom is what you have bought with your solitude, your loneliness. more...

Dead anarchists make martyrs, you know, and keep living for centuries. But absent ones can be forgotten. more...

A dangerous book will always be in danger from those it threatens with the demand that they question their assumptions. They'd rather hang on to the assumptions and ban the book. more...

A forest ecology is a delicate one. If the forest perishes, its fauna may go with it. The Athshean word for world is also the word for forest. more...

What's wrong with men?" Tenar inquired cautiously. As cautiously, lowering her voice, Moss replied, "I don't know, my dearie. I've thought on it. Often I've thought on it. The best I can say it is like this. A man's in his skin, see, like a nut in its shell." She held up her long, bent, wet fingers as if holding a walnut. "It's hard and strong, that shell, and it's all full of him. Full of grand man-meat, man-self. And that's all. That's all there is. It's all him and nothing else, inside. more...

If women had power, what would men be but women who can't bear children? And what would women be but men who can?" "Hah!" went Tenar; and presently, with some cunning, she said, "Haven't there been queens? Weren't they women of power?" "A queen's only a she-king," said Ged. She snorted. "I mean, men give her power. They let her use their power. But it isn't hers, is it? It isn't because she's a woman that she's powerful, but despite it. more...

What is a woman's power then?" she asked. "I don't think we know." "When has a woman power because she's a woman? With her children, I suppose. For a while..." "In her house, maybe." She looked around the kitchen. "But the doors are shut," she said, "the doors are locked." "Because you're valuable." "Oh yes. We're precious. So long as we're powerless. more...

Would you really like to live in a society where you have no responsibility and no freedom, no choice, only the false option of obedience to the law, or disobedience followed by punishment? Would you really want to go live in a prison? more...

When he found that the administrators were upset, he laughed. "Do they expect students not to be anarchists?" he said. "What else can the young be? When you are on the bottom, you must organize from the bottom up more...

We need writers who know the difference between the production of a commodity and the practice of an art. more...

We live in capitalism, its power seems inescapable - but then, 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. Very often in our art, the art of words. more...

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

The end justifies the means. But what if there never is an end? All we have is means. more...

A person who believes, as she did, that things fit: that there is a whole of which one is a part, and that in being a part one is whole: such a person has no desire whatever, at any time, to play God. Only those who have denied their being yearn to play at it. more...

You have to help another person. But it's not right to play God with masses of people. To be God you have to know what you're doing. And to do any good at all, just believing you're right and your motives are good isn't enough. more...

When people say, Did you always want to be a writer?, I have to say no! I always WAS a writer. more...

Can true function arise from basic dysfunction? more...

Hardly anybody ever writes anything nice about introverts. Extroverts rule. This is rather odd when you realise that about nineteen writers out of twenty are introverts. We are been taught to be ashamed of not being 'outgoing'. But a writer's job is ingoing. more...

Her concern with landscapes and living creatures was passionate. This concern, feebly called, "the love of nature" seemed to Shevek to be something much broader than love. There are souls, he thought, whose umbilicus has never been cut. They never got weaned from the universe. They do not understand death as an enemy; they look forward to rotting and turning into humus. It was strange to see Takver take a leaf into her hand, or even a rock. She became an extension of it, it of her. more...

Compare the torrent and the glacier. Both get where they are going. more...

There's nothing wrong with me...except acute chronic fear. more...

Oh, never and forever aren't for mortals, love. But we won't be parted till I know it's right that we part. more...

Without war there are no heroes. What harm would that be? Oh, Lavinia, what a woman's question that is. more...

Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art - the art of words. more...

There is a limited number of plots. There is no limit to the number of stories. more...

Every book purchase made from Amazon is a vote for a culture without content and without contentment. more...

Paradise is for those who make paradise. more...

Writers are egotists. All artists are. They ca' be altruists and get their work done. And writers love to whine about the Solitude of the Author's Life, and lock themselves into cork-lined rooms or droop around in bars in order to whine better. But although most writing is done in solitude, I believe that it is done, like all the arts, for an audience. That is to say, with an audience. All the arts are performance arts, only some of them are sneakier about it than others. more...

Love does not just sit there, like a stone; it had to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new. more...

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

It is good to have an end to journey towards, but it is the journey that matters in the end. more...

The power of the harasser, the abuser, the rapist depends above all on the silence of women. more...

If it were proven that there is no God there would be no religion. ...But also if it were proven that there is a God, there would be no religion. more...

Why can I never set my heart on a possible thing? more...

All makers must leave room for the acts of the spirit. But they have to work hard and carefully, and wait patiently, to deserve them. more...

If you evade suffering, you also evade the chance of joy. more...

We decided that it was no good asking what is the meaning of life, because life isn't an answer, life is the question, and you, yourself, are the answer. more...

I have told the story I was asked to tell. I have closed it, as so many stories close, with a joining of two people. What is one man's and one woman's love and desire, against the history of two worlds, the great revolutions of our lifetimes, the hope, the unending cruelty of our species? A little thing. But a key is a little thing, next to the door it opens. If you lose the key, the door may never be unlocked. It is in our bodies that we lose or begin our freedom, in our bodies that we accept or end our slavery. So I wrote this book for my friend, with whom I have lived and will die free. more...

The airport bookstore did not sell books, only bestsellers, which Sita Dulip cannot read without risking a severe systemic reaction. more...

Her work, I really think her work is finding what her real work is and doing it, her work, her own work, her being human, her being in the world. more...

To exhibit the perfect uselessness of knowing the answer to the wrong question. more...

The light is the left hand of darkness more...

The king was pregnant. more...

Nothing said in words ever came out quite even. Things in words got twisted and ran together, instead of staying straight and fitting together. more...

Anyhow they're always exceptions. But most women, their only relationship to a man is having. Either owning or being owned. more...

You can't crush ideas by suppressing them. You can only crush them by ignoring them. By refusing to think, refusing to change. more...

You are all in jail. Each alone, solitary, with a heap of what he owns. You live in prison, die in prison. It is all I can see in your eyes - the walls, the walls! more...

Saying that, he was suddenly himself again, despite his lunatic hair and eyes: a man whose personal dignity went so deep as to be nearly invisible... It was more than diginity. Integrity? Wholeness? Like a block of wood not carved. The infinite possibility, the unlimited and unqualified wholeness of being of the uncommitted, the nonacting, the uncarved: the being who, being nothing but himself, is everything. more...

She obeys me, but only because she wants to. It's the only justification for obedience, Ged observed. more...

If a book were written all in numbers, it would be true. It would be just. Nothing said in words ever came out quite even. Things in words got twisted and ran together, instead of staying straight and fitting together. But underneath the words, at the center, like the center of the Square, it all came out even. Everything could change, yet nothing would be lost. If you saw the numbers you could see that, the balance, the pattern. You saw the foundations of the world. And they were solid. more...

To make a thief, make an owner; to create crime, create laws. more...

George, it's impossible to correct a defective reality-orientation overnight. more...

Change is freedom, change is life. It's always easier not to think for oneself. Find a nice safe hierarchy and settle in. Don't make changes, don't risk disapproval, don't upset your syndics. It's always easiest to let yourself be governed. There's a point, around age twenty, when you have to choose whether to be like everybody else the rest of your life, or to make a virtue of your peculiarities. Those who build walls are their own prisoners. I'm going to go fulfil my proper function in the social organism. I'm going to go unbuild walls. more...

Go to bed; tired is stupid. more...

Having one king, one god, one belief, they can act single-mindedly. more...

The one thing a writer has to have is a pencil and some paper. That's enough, so long as she knows that she and she alone is in charge of that pencil, and responsible, she and she alone, for what it writes on that paper. more...

If eternity had a season, it would be midsummer. Autumn, winter, spring are all change and passage, but at the height of summer the year stands poised. It's only a passing moment, but even as it passes the heart knows it cannot change. more...

Fantasy is not antirational, but pararational; not realistic but surrealistic, a heightening of reality. In Freud's terminology, it employs primary not secondary process thinking. It employs archetypes which, as Jung warned us, are dangerous things. Fantasy is nearer to poetry, to mysticism, and to insanity than naturalistic fiction is. It is a wilderness, and those who go there should not feel too safe. more...

To see a candle's light one must take it into a dark place. more...

There is not much you can say about a baby unless you are talking with its father or another mother or nurse; infants are not part of the realm of ordinary language, talk is inadequate to them as they are inadequate to talk. more...

I had forgotten how much light there is in the world, till you gave it back to me. more...

Even in merely reading a fairytale, we must let go our daylight convictions and trust ourselves to be guided by dark figures, in silence; and when we come back, it may be very hard to describe where we have been. more...

I hope you are never victims, but I hope you have no power over other people. more...

That I was not dueling with the king, but trying to communicate with him, was itself an incommunicable fact. more...

Genre is a useful concept only when used not evaluatively but descriptively. more...

...fiction is made out of the writer's experience, his whole life from infancy on, everything he's thought and done and seen and read and dreamed. But experience isn't something you go and get - it's a gift, and the only prerequisite for receiving it is that you be open to it. A closed soul can have the most immense adventures, go through a civil war or a trip to the moon, and have nothing to show for all that "experience"; whereas the open soul can do wonders with nothing. more...

Even in the obscure vast history of a planet the time it takes to make a forest counts. It takes a while. And not every planet can do it; it is no common effect, that tangling of the sun's first cool light in the shadow and complexity of innumberable wind-stirred branches. more...

One of the things [fiction] does is lead you to recognize what you did not know before. more...

The island of Gont, a single mountain that lifts its peak a mile above the storm-racked Northeast Sea, is a land famous for wizards. more...

All makers must leave room for acts of the spirit. more...

Capitalism's grow-or-die imperative stands radically at odds with ecology's imperative of interdependence and limit. The two imperatives can no longer coexist with each other; nor can any society founded on the myth that they can be reconciled hope to survive. Either we will establish an ecological society or society will go under for everyone, irrespective of his or her status. more...

It did not matter, after all. He was only one man. One man's fate is not important. "If it is not, what is?" He could not endure those remembered words. more...

I can never get used to the fact, though I know it, that women are born cynics. Men have to learn cynicism. Infant girls could teach it to them. more...

There's a point, around the age of twenty, when you have to choose whether to be like everybody else the rest of your life, or to make a virtue of your peculiarities. more...

Stories are what death thinks he puts an end to. He can't understand that they end in him, but they don't end with him. more...

Nothing is yours. It is to use. It is to share. If you will not share it, you cannot use it. more...

To break a promise is to deny the reality of the past. Therefore it is to deny the hope of a real future. more...

Well, we think that time "passes," flows past us, but what if it is we who move forward, from past to future, always discovering the new? It would be a little like reading a book, you see. The book is all there, all at once, between its covers. But if you want to read the story and understand it, you must begin with the first page, and go forward, always in order. So the universe would be a very great book, and we would be very small readers. more...

One must work with time and not against it. more...

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. more...

O foolish writer. Now moves. Even in storytime, dreamtime, once-upon-a-time, now isn't then. more...

The important thing is not the finding, it is the seeking, it is the devotion with which one spins the wheel of prayer and scripture, discovering the truth little by little. more...

It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters, in the end. more...

The world is in balance <...>. To light a candle is to cast a shadow. more...

If you deny any affinity with another person or kind of person, if you declare it to be wholly different from yourself - as men have done to women, and class has done to class, and nation has done to nation - you may hate it, or deify it; but in either case you have denied its spiritual equality, and its human reality. You have made it into a thing, to which the only relationship is a power relationship. And thus you have fatally impoverished your own reality. You have, in fact, alienated yourself. more...

Science fiction is not predictive; it is descriptive. more...

What the hell is nostalgia doing in a science-fiction film? With the whole universe and all the future to play in, Lucas took his marvelous toys and crawled under the fringed cloth on the parlor table, back into a nice safe hide hole, along with Flash Gordon and the Cowardly Lion and Luke Skywalker and the Flying Aces and the Hitler Jugend. If there's a message there, I don't think I want to hear it. more...

The story - from Rumpelstiltskin to War and Peace - is one of the basic tools invented by the human mind, for the purpose of gaining understanding. There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories. more...

Nobody who says, "I told you so" has ever been, or will ever be, a hero. more...

Children know perfectly well that unicorns are' real, but they also know that books about unicorns, if they are good books, are true books. more...

Anyhow they"re always exceptions. But most women, their only relationship to a man is having. Either owning or being owned. more...

You ca' crush ideas by suppressing them. You can only crush them by ignoring them. By refusing to think, refusing to change. more...

I think the mystery of art lies in this, that artists" relationship is essentially with their work - not with power, not with profit, not with themselves, not even with their audience. more...

Jungians such as Joseph Campbell have generalised such journeys into a set of archetypal events and images. Though they can be useful in criticism, I mistrust them as fatally reductive. "Ah, the Night Sea Voyage!" we cry, feeling that we have understood something important - but we"ve merely recognised it. Until we are actually on that voyage, we have understood nothing. more...

In many college English courses the words "myth" and "symbol" are given a tremendous charge of significance. You just ai' no good unless you can see a symbol hiding, like a scared gerbil, under every page. And in many creative writing course the little beasts multiply, the place swarms with them. What does this Mean? What does that Symbolize? What is the Underlying Mythos? Kids come lurching out of such courses with a brain full of gerbils. And they sit down and write a lot of empty pomposity, under the impression that that's how Melville did it. more...

Morning comes whether you set the alarm or not. more...

It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end. more...

The unread story is not a story; it is little black marks on wood pulp. The reader, reading it, makes it live: a live thing, a story. more...

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

The only questions that really matter are the ones you ask yourself. more...

The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty; not knowing what comes next. more...

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

It is above all by the imagination that we achieve perception and compassion and hope. more...

If science fiction is the mythology of modern technology, then its myth is tragic. more...

We are volcanoes. When we women offer our experience as our truth, as human truth, all the maps change. There are new mountains. more...

To light a candle is to cast a shadow. more...

The children of the revolution are always ungrateful, and the revolution must be grateful that it is so. more...

To oppose something is to maintain it. more...

The creative adult is the child who has survived. more...

It had never occurred to me before that music and thinking are so much alike. In fact you could say music is another way of thinking, or maybe thinking is another kind of music. more...

If you see a whole thing - it seems that it's always beautiful. Planets, lives... But up close a world's all dirt and rocks. And day to day, life's a hard job, you get tired, you lose the pattern. more...

Great artists make the roads; good teachers and good companions can point them out. But there ain't no free rides, baby. more...

If you want your writing to be taken seriously, don't marry and have kids, and above all, don't die. But if you have to die, commit suicide. They approve of that. more...

I doubt that the imagination can be suppressed. If you truly eradicated it in a child, he would grow up to be an eggplant. more...

In so far as one denies what is, one is possessed by what is not, the compulsions, the fantasies, the terrors that flock to fill the void. more...

What sane person could live in this world and not be crazy? more...

I certainly wasn't happy. Happiness has to do with reason, and only reason earns it. What I was given was the thing you can't earn, and can't keep, and often don't even recognize at the time; I mean joy. more...

The artist deals in what cannot be said in words. The artist whose medium is fiction does this in words. The novelist says in words what cannot be said in words. more...

There are no right answers to wrong questions. more...

I do try to separate my personal activism - showing up at a demonstration or something - from what I write. more...

We scarcely know how much of our pleasure and interest in life comes to us through our eyes until we have to do without them; and part of that pleasure is that the eyes can choose where to look. But the ears can't choose where to listen. more...

To see that your life is a story while you're in the middle of living it may be a help to living it well. more...

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. Free your mind of the idea of deserving, the idea of earning, and you will begin to be able to think. more...

While we read a novel, we are insane-bonkers. We believe in the existence of people who aren't there, we hear their voices... Sanity returns (in most cases) when the book is closed. more...

The use of imaginative fiction is to deepen your understanding of your world, and your fellow men, and your own feelings, and your destiny. more...

I believe that maturity is not an outgrowing, but a growing up: that an adult is not a dead child, but a child who survived. I believe that all the best faculties of a mature human being exist in the child. . . . that one of the most deeply human, and humane, of these faculties is the power of imagination. more...

If one believes that words are acts, as I do, then one must hold writers responsible for what their words do. more...

There are two kinds of knowledge, local and universal. more...

To learn a belief without the belief is to sing a song without the tune. more...

In our loss and fear we craved the acts of religion, the ceremonies that allow us to admit our helplessness, our dependence on the great forces we do not understand. more...

I think there is no way to write about being alone. To write is to tell something to somebody to communicate to others. . . . Solitude is noncommunication, the absence of others, the presence of a self sufficient to itself. more...

I never knew anybody . . . who found life simple. I think a life or a time looks simple when you leave out the details. more...

In war everybody is a prisoner. more...

My great-aunt. . . . said nobody under 18 had any business reading Dickens. . . . She was right. more...

It is a terrible thing, this kindess that human beings do not lose. Terrible, because when we are finally naked in the dark and cold, it is all we have. We who are so rich, so full of strength, we end up with that small change. We have nothing else to give. more...

In general she had found that the main drawback in being a man was that conversations were less interesting. more...

A man does not make his destiny: he accepts it or denies it. more...

If you evade suffering you also evade the chance of joy. Pleasure you may get, or pleasures, but you will not be fulfilled. You will not know what it is to come home. more...

Now they came back to him, on this night he was seventeen years old. All the years and places of his brief broken life came within mind's reach and made a whole again. He knew once more, at last, after this long, bitter, waisted time, who he was and where he was. But where he must go in the years to come, that he could not see; and he feared to see it. more...

Who knows a man's name, holds that man's life in his keeping. Thus to Ged, who had lost faith in himself, Vetch had given him that gift that only a friend can give, the proof of unshaken, unshakeable trust. more...

Take the tale in your teeth, then, and bite till the blood runs, hoping it's not poison. more...

Yet we were rescued by that fancy, and saved by a myth. more...

Do you see, Arren, how an act is not, as young men think, like a rock that one picks up and throws, and it hits or misses, and that's the end of it. When that rock is lifted, the earth is lighter; the hand that bears it is heavier. When it is thrown, the circuits of the stars respond, and where it strikes or falls the universe is changed. more...

We broke the world to make it whole... more...

When we're done with it, we may find-if it's a good novel-that we're a bit different from what we were before we read it, that we have been changed a little, as if by having meet a new face, crossed a street we've never crossed before. more...

A man wants his virility regarded. A woman wants her femininity appreciated, however indirect and subtle the indications of regard and appreciation. [Here] one is respected and judged only as a human being. It is an appalling experience. more...

We have inhabited both the actual and the imaginary realms for a long time. But we don't live in either place the way our parents or ancestors did. Enchantment alters with age, and with the age. We know a dozen Arthurs now, all of them true. The Shire changed irrevocably even in Bilbo's lifetime. Don Quixote went riding out to Argentina and met Jorge Luis Borges there. Plus c'est la meme chose, plus ca change. more...

I think," Tehanu said in her soft, strange voice, "that when I die, I can breathe back the breath that made me live. I can give back to the world all that I didn't do. All that I might have been and couldn't be. All the choices I didn't make. All the things I lost and spent and wasted. I can give them back to the world. To the lives that haven't been lived yet. That will be my gift back to the world that gave me the life I did live, the love I loved, the breath I breathed. more...

At this point, realism is perhaps the least adequate means of understanding or portraying the incredible realities of our existence. more...

Civilized Man says: I am Self, I am Master, all the rest is other-outside, below, underneath, subservient. I own, I use, I explore, I exploit, I control. What I do is what matters. What I want is what matter is for. I am that I am, and the rest is women & wilderness, to be used as I see fit. more...

Distrust everything I say. I am telling the truth. more...

If a book told you something when you were fifteen, it will tell you it again when you're fifty, though you may understand it so differently that it seems you're reading a whole new book. more...

Sanity returns (in most cases) when the book is closed. more...

One voice speaking truth is a greater force than fleets and armies... more...

If civilization has an opposite, it is war. more...

I suppose the most important thing, the heaviest single factor in one's life, is whether one's born male or female. In most societies it determines one's expectations, activities, outlook, ethics, manners-almost everything. Vocabulary. Semiotic usages. Clothing. Even food. Women... women tend to eat less... It's extremely hard to separate the innate differences from the learned ones. Even where women participate equally with men in the society, they still after all do all the childbearing, and so most of the child-rearing.... more...

In that moment Ged understood the singing of the bird, and the language of the water falling in the basin of the fountain, and the shape of the clouds, and the beginning and end of the wind that stirred the leaves; it seemed to him that he himself was a word spoken by the sunlight. more...

And he began to see the truth, that Ged had neither lost nor won but, naming the shadow of his death with his own name, had made himself whole: a man who, knowing his whole true self, cannot be used or possessed by any power other than himself, and whose life therefore is lived for life's sake and never in the service of ruin, or pain, or hatred, or the dark. more...

Other people's stories may become part of your own, the foundation of it, the ground it goes on. more...

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. more...

It is not human to be without shame and without desire. more...

The word must be heard in silence; there must be darkness to see the stars. more...

Injustice makes the rules, and courage breaks them. more...

Manipulated, one manipulates others. more...

A man who doesn't detest a bad government is a fool. And if there were such a thing as a good government on earth, it would be a great joy to serve it. more...

The old knowledge had been difficult but not distressing. It had been all paradox and myth, and it had made sense. The new knowledge was all fact and reason, and it made no sense. more...

Belief in heaven and hell is a big deal in Judaism , Christianity , and Islam , and some forms of doctrinaire Buddhism . For the rest of us it's simply meaningless. We don't live in order to die, we live in order to live. more...

Ignorant power is a bane! more...

How can people be anything but ignorant when knowledge isn't saved, isn't taught? more...

The desire for power feeds off itself, growing as it devours. more...

What goes too long unchanged destroys itself. more...

Statesmen remember things selectively. more...

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 . more...

Sometimes one's very angry and preaches, but I know that to clinch a point is to close it. To leave the reader free to decide what your work means, that's the real art; it makes the work inexhaustible. more...

One man may as easily destroy, as govern: be King or Anti-King. more...

Elegance is a small price to pay for enlightenment, and I was glad to pay it. more...

Living in a world that is valued only as gain, an ever-expanding world-as-frontier that has no worth of its own, no fullness of its own, you live in danger of losing your own worth to yourself. That's when you begin to listen to the voices from the other side, and to ask questions of failure and the dark. more...

Gradually the healing took place, seeming as it always does that it wasn't taking place. more...

We read books to find out who we are. What other people, real or imaginary, do and think and feel... is an essential guide to our understanding of what we ourselves are and may become. more...

The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pendants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist: a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain. more...

Very seldom do you come upon a space, a time like this, between act and act, when you may stop and simply be. more...

What good is power when you're too wise to use it? more...

Freedom is a heavy load, a great and strange burden for the spirit to undertake. It is not easy. It is not a gift given, but a choice made, and the choice may be a hard one. The road goes upward towards the light; but the laden traveler may never reach the end of it. more...

Even the best weapon is an unhappy tool, hateful to living things. So the follower of the Way stays away from it. Weapons are unhappy tools, not chosen by thoughtful people, to be used only when there is no choice, and with a calm, still mind, without enjoyment. To enjoy using weapons is to enjoy killing people, and to enjoy killing people is to lose your share in the common good. It is right that the murder of many people be mourned and lamented. It is right that a victor in war be received with funeral ceremonies. more...

This is. And thou art. There is no safety. There is no end. The word must be heard in silence. There must be darkness to see the stars. The dance is always danced above the hollow place, above the terrible abyss. more...

Do nothing because it is righteous or praiseworthy or noble to do so; do nothing because it seems good to do so; do only that which you must do and which you cannot do in any other way. more...

I'll make my report as if I told a story, for I was taught as a child on my homeworld that Truth is a matter of the imagination. more...

When I'm writing I don't dream much; it's like the dreaming gets used in the writing. more...

...If at moments the facts seem to alter with an altered voice, why then you can choose the fact you like best; yet none of them are false, and it is all one story. more...

Art is craft: all art is always and essentially a work of craft: but in the true work of art, before the craft and after it, is some essential durable core of being, which is what the craft works on, and shows, and sets free. The statue in the stone. How does the artist find that, see it, before it's visible? That is a real question. more...

It is hard, I found, to be called traitor. Strange how hard it is, for it's an easy name to call another man. more...

The same old hypocrisy. Life is a fight, and the strongest wins. All civilization does is hide the blood and cover up the hate with pretty words! more...

You can go home again ... so long as you understand that home is a place where you have never been. more...

It is of the nature of idea to be communicated: written, spoken, done. The idea is like grass. It craves light, likes crowds, thrives on crossbreeding, grows better for being stepped on. more...

The search for pleasure is circular, repetitive, atemporal. The variety seeking of the spectator, the thrill hunter, the sexually promiscuous, always ends in the same place. It has an end. It comes to the end and has to start over. It is not a journey and return, but a closed cycle, a locked room, a cell. more...

Where there's property, there's theft. more...

Fiction writers, at least in their braver moments, do desire the truth: to know it, speak it, serve it. But they go about it in a peculiar and devious way, which consists in inventing persons, places, and events which never did and never will exist or occur, and telling about these fictions in detail and at length and with a great deal of emotion, and then when they are done writing down this pack of lies, they say, There! That's the truth! more...

If civilization has an opposite, it is war. Of these two things, you have either one, or the other. Not both. more...

Men who fight wars in winter don't live till spring. more...

It is useless work that darkens the heart. more...

It is yin and yang. Light is the left hand of darkness ... how did it go? Light, dark. Fear, courage. Cold, warmth. Female, male. It is yourself ... both and one. A shadow on snow. more...

Success is somebody else's failure. more...

No society can change the nature of existence. We can't prevent suffering. This pain and that pain, yes, but not Pain. A society can only relieve social suffering, unnecessary suffering. The rest remains. The root, the reality. more...

Truth is a matter of the imagination. The soundest fact may fail or prevail in the style of its telling: like that singular organic jewel of our seas, which grows brighter as one woman wears it and, worn by another, dulls and goes to dust. more...

Those who build walls are their own prisoners. more...

It was easy to share when there was enough, even barely enough, to go round. But when there was not enough? Then force entered in; might making right; power, and its tool, violence, and its most devoted ally, the averted eye. more...

No matter how intelligent a man is, he can't see what he doesn't know how to see. more...

Darkness is only in the mortal eye, that thinks it sees, but sees not. more...

Revolution is our obligation: our hope of evolution. more...

It's the self that suffers, and there's a place where the self-ceases. I don't know how to say it. But I believe that the reality-the truth that I recognize in suffering as I don't in comfort and happiness-that the reality of pain is not pain. If you can get through it. If you can endure it all the way. more...

When the enemy enthusiastically embraces you, and the fellow countrymen bitterly reject you, it is hard not to wonder if you are, in fact, a traitor. more...

Honestly, orthodoxy concerns me about as much as it concerns your average jackrabbit. I only follow rules that take me where I want to go. If there aren't any rules, I make up my own (and follow them strictly). more...

Writers need to learn their trade, and how to negotiate the increasingly difficult marketplace. The trade can be taught and learned just as the craft can. But a workshop where the trade is the principal focus of interest is not a writing workshop. It is a business class. more...

As you see, I bear some resentment and some scars from the years of anti-genre bigotry. My own fiction, which moves freely around among realism, magical realism, science fiction, fantasy of various kinds, historical fiction, young adult fiction, parable, and other subgenres, to the point where much of it is ungenrifiable, all got shoved into the Sci Fi wastebasket or labeled as kiddilit-subliterature. more...

For fantasy is true, of course. It isn't factual, but it is true. Children know that. Adults know it too, and that is precisely why many of them are afraid of fantasy. They know that its truth challenges, even threatens, all that is false, all that is phony, unnecessary, and trivial in the life they have let themselves be forced into living. They are afraid of dragons, because they are afraid of freedom. more...

Ah, genre. A word only a Frenchman could love. more...

Planets were very large places, on any scale but that of the spaces in between them. more...

When you work in form, be it a sonnet or villanelle or whatever, the form is there and you have to fill it. And you have to find how to make that form say what you want to say. But what you find, always-I think any poet who's worked in form will agree with me-is that the form leads you to what you want to say. more...

For a fiction writer, a storyteller, the world is full of stories, and when a story is there, it's there, and you just reach up and pick it. more...

There are very real differences between science fiction and realistic fiction, between horror and fantasy, between romance and mystery. Differences in writing them, in reading them, in criticizing them. Vive les differences! They're what gives each genre its singular flavor and savor, its particular interest for the reader-and the writer. more...

We sleep researchers like cats, you know; they sleep a lot! more...

Have you never thought how danger must surround power as shadow does light? more...

A wrong that cannot be repaired must be transcended. more...

Genre fiction was looked at as a ghetto, but I wonder now if realist fiction, sealing itself off in the glum suburbs of a dysfunctional society, denying the use of imagination, was the ghetto. more...

Men call women faithless, changeable, and though they say it in jealousy of their own ever-threatened sexual honor, there is some truth in it. We can change our life, our being; no matter what our will is, we are changed. As the moon changes yet is one, so we are virgin, wife, mother, grandmother. For all their restlessness, men are who they are; once they put on the man's toga they will not change again; so they make a virtue of that rigidity and resist whatever might soften it and set them free. more...

A machine is more blameless, more sinless even than any animal. It has no intentions whatsoever but our own. more...

Most civilisations, perhaps, look shinier in general terms and from several light-years away. more...

A man who saw a miracle would reject his eyes' witness, if those with him saw nothing. more...

Things don't have purposes, as if the universe were a machine, where every part has a useful function. What's the function of a galaxy? I don't know if our life has a purpose and I don't see that it matters. What does matter is that we're a part. Like a thread in a cloth or a grass-blade in a field. It is and we are. What we do is like wind blowing on the grass. more...

So the first step out of childhood is made all at once, without looking before or behind, without caution, and nothing held in reserve. more...

There was one person who greatly and directly benefited my career-my agent Virginia Kidd. From 1968 to the late nineties she represented all my work, in every field except poetry. I could send her an utterly indescribable story, and she'd sell it to Playboy or the Harvard Law Review or Weird Tales or The New Yorker-she knew where to take it. She never told me what to write or not write, she never told me, That won't sell, and she never meddled with my prose. more...

Well, the secret to writing is writing. It's only a secret to people who don't want to hear it. Writing is how you be a writer. more...

Dreams take short cuts. more...

I believe that maturity is not an outgrowing, but a growing up: that an adult is not a dead child, but a child who survived. more...

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. more...

Is it the gods who set this fire in our hearts, or do we each make our fierce desire into a god? more...

It always seemed to me they're sort of alike ... magic and music. Spells and tunes. For one thing, you have to get them just exactly right. more...

The counsel of the dead is not profitable to the living. more...

Suffering is dysfunctional, except as a bodily warning against danger. Psychologically and socially it's merely destructive. more...

You know, I don't think a lot about why one book connects with its readers and another doesn't. Probably because I don't want to start thinking, "Am I popular?" I spent way too much time thinking about that in high school. more...

It is not altogether a bad thing to have criminal ancestors. An arsonist grandfather may bequeath one a nose for smelling smoke. more...

Despair speaks evenly, in a quiet voice. more...

Greed puts out the sun. more...

I came into science fiction at a very good time, when the doors were getting thrown open to all kinds of more experimental writing, more literary writing, riskier writing. It wasn't all imitation Heinlein or Asimov. And of course, women were creeping in, infiltrating. Infesting the premises. more...

To think that realistic fiction is by definition superior to imaginative fiction is to think imitation is superior to invention. more...

Sometimes a god comes.... He brings a new way to do a thing, or a new thing to be done. A new kind of singing, or a new kind of death. He brings this across the bridge between the dream-time and the world-time. When he has done this, it is done. You cannot take things that exist in the world and try to drive them back into the dream, to hold them inside the dream with walls and pretenses. That is insanity. What is, is. There is no use pretending, now, that we do not know how to kill one another. more...

If I had to pick a hero, it would be Charles Darwin-the size of his mind, which included all that scientific curiosity and knowledge seeking, and the ability to put it all together. There is a genuine spirituality about Darwin's thinking. more...

To know there is a choice is to have to make the choice: change or stay: river or rock. more...

All men were alien one to another, at times, not only aliens. more...

Whenever they tell me children want this sort of book and children need this sort of writing, I am going to smile politely and shut my earlids. I am a writer, not a caterer. There are plenty of caterers. But what children most want and need is what we and they don't know they want and don't think they need, and only writers can offer it to them. more...

All times are changing times, but ours is one of massive, rapid moral and mental transformation. Archetypes turn into millstones, large simplicities get complicated, chaos becomes elegant, and what everybody knows is true turns out to be what some people used to think. more...

Truth, as ever, avoids the stranger. more...

Sleeping people are so remote.... Right here, but out of communication. That's what strikes humans as uncanny about sleep. Its utter privacy. The sleeper turns his back on everyone. more...

Morality is an utterly meaningless term unless defined as the good one does to others, the fulfilling of one's function in the sociopolitical whole. more...

What is more arrogant than honesty? more...

I'd rather get bad news from an honest man than lies from a flatterer. more...

I'm not a quester or a searcher for the truth. I don't really think there is one answer, so I never went looking for it. My impulse is less questing and more playful. I like trying on ideas and ways of life and religious approaches. I'm just not a good candidate for conversion. more...

Our model of the cosmos must be as inexhaustible as the cosmos. A complexity that includes not only duration but creation, not only being but becoming, not only geometry but ethics. It is not the answer we are after, but only how to ask the question. more...

Nothing remains the same from one moment to the next, you can't step into the same river twice. Life-evolution-the whole universe of space/time, matter/energy-existence itself-is essentially change. more...

Between thought and spoken word is a gap where intention can enter, the symbol be twisted aside, and the lie come to be. more...

There are things that outweigh comfort, unless one is an old woman or a cat. more...

The historic function of a Senator from Oregon is to drive all the other Senators mad. more...

Now perhaps an excessive dread of overpopulation-overcrowding-reflects not an outward reality, but an inward state of mind. If you feel overcrowded when you're not, what does that mean? Maybe that you're afraid of human contact-of being close to people, of being touched. more...

Wrongs done could not be righted, but at least they were not still being done. more...

The danger in trying to do good is that the mind comes to confuse the intent of goodness with the act of doing things well. more...

If success in selling is my primary interest, I am not primarily a writer, but a salesperson. If I teach success in selling as the writer's primary objective, I am not teaching writing; I'm teaching, or pretending to teach, the production and marketing of a commodity. more...

The more defensive a society, the more conformist. more...

To claim power over what you do not understand is not wise, nor is the end of it likely to be good. more...

It's not a weapon or a woman can make a man, or magery either, or any power, anything but himself. more...

Realism is a very sophisticated form of literature, a very grown-up one. And that may be its weakness. But fantasy seems to be eternal and omnipresent and always attractive to kids. more...

The notion that a story has a message assumes that it can be reduced to a few abstract words, neatly summarized in a school or college examination paper or a brisk critical review. more...

We of Es Toch tell a little myth, which says that in the beginning the Creator told a great lie. For there was nothing at all, but the Creator spoke, saying, It exists. And behold, in order that the lie of God might be God's truth, the universe at once began to exist. more...

I was in too much haste, and now have no time left. I traded all the sunlight and the cities and the distant lands for a handful of power, for a shadow, for the dark. more...

If they come prying they can leave curious. more...

There's no way to use power for good. more...

It was men's ambitions, they said, that had perverted all the arts to ends of gain. more...

By such literalism, fundamentalism, religions betrayed the best intentions of their founders. Reducing thought to formula, replacing choice by obedience, these preachers turned the living word into dead law. more...

There's seldom as much hurry as I used to think there was. more...

What is an anarchist? One who, choosing, accepts the responsibility of choice. more...

Nobody who says, 'I told you so' has ever been, or will ever be, a hero. more...

Light is the left hand of darkness and darkness the right hand of light. Two are one, life and death, lying together like lovers in kemmer, like hands joined together, like the end and the way. more...

Truth is a matter of the imagination. more...

Children know perfectly well that unicorns aren't real, but they also know that books about unicorns, if they are good books, are true books. more...

As a man's real power grows and his knowledge widens, ever the way he can follow grows narrower: until at last he chooses nothing,but does only and wholly what he must do... more...

Science fiction is not prescriptive; it is descriptive. more...

We like to think we live in daylight, but half the world is always dark, and fantasy, like poetry, speaks the language of the night. more...

And though I came to forget or regret all I have ever done, yet would I remember that once I saw the dragons aloft on the wind at sunset above the western isles; and I would be content. more...

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. more...

When I was young, I had to choose between the life of being and the life of doing. And I leapt at the latter like a trout to a fly. But each deed you do, each act, binds you to itself and to its consequences, and makes you act again and yet again. Then very seldom do you come upon a space, a time like this, between act and act, when you may stop and simply be. Or wonder who, after all, you are. more...

They can send death at once, but life is slower... more...

Excess is excrement, ... Excrement retained in the body is a poison. more...

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. more...

Sometimes you must go against the wheel's turn. more...

It is no secret. All power is one in source and end, I think. Years and distances, stars and candles, water and wind and wizardry, the craft in a man's hand and the wisdom in a tree's root: they all arise together. My name, and yours, and the true name of the sun, or a spring of water, or an unborn child, all are syllables of the great word that is very slowly spoken by the shining of the stars. There is no other power. No other name. more...

Writers are egotists. All artists are. They can't be altruists and get their work done. And writers love to whine about the Solitude of the Author's Life, and lock themselves into cork-lined rooms or droop around in bars in order to whine better. But although most writing is done in solitude, I believe that it is done, like all the arts, for an audience. That is to say, with an audience. All the arts are performance arts, only some of them are sneakier about it than others. more...

To hear, one must be silent. more...

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 skilful 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. more...

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

This is the treason of the artist: a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain. more...

True understanding is the spur of genius more...

My world, my Earth is a ruin. A planet spoiled by the human species. We multiplied and fought and gobbled until there was nothing left, and then we died. We controlled neither appetite nor violence; we did not adapt. We destroyed ourselves. But we destroyed the world first. more...

What is love of one's country; is it hate of one's uncountry? Then it's not a good thing. Is it simply self-love? That's a good thing, but one musn't make a virtue of it, or a profession...Insofar as I love life, I love [my country], but that sort of love does not have a boundary-line of hate. And beyond that, I am ignorant, I hope. more...

There is neither source nor end, for all things are in the Center of Time. As all the stars may be reflected in a round raindrop falling in the night: so too do all the stars reflect the raindrop. There is neither darkness nor death, for all things are, in the Light of the Moment, and their end and their beginning are one. more...

The thing about working with time, instead of against it, he thought, is that it is not wasted. Even pain counts. more...

I am no more lonely than the loon on the pond that laughs so loud. more...

The worst walls are never the ones you find in your way. The worst walls are the ones you put there . more...

You must not change one thing, one pebble, one grain of sand, until you know what good and evil will follow on that act. more...

In innocence there is no strength against evil, said Sparrowhawk, a little wryly. But there is strength in it for good. more...

Only in silence the word, only in dark the light, only in dying life: bright the hawk's flight on the empty sky. more...

By and large books are mankind's best invention. more...

The sunlights differ, but there is only one darkness. more...

A writer is a person who cares what words mean, what they say, how they say it... By using words well they strengthen their souls. more...

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. more...

Age and illness made one a dualist more...

Hate gets going, it goes round, it gets older and tighter and older and tighter, until it holds a person inside it like a fist holds a stick. more...

The preservation of life seems to be rather a slogan than a genuine goal of the anti-abortion forces; what they want is control. Control over behavior: power over women. Women in the anti-choice movement want to share in male power over women, and do so by denying their own womanhood, their own rights and responsibilities. more...

The misogyny that shapes every aspect of our civilization is the institutionalized form of male fear and hatred of what they have denied and therefore cannot know, cannot share: that wild country, the being of women. more...

At the pit's bottom is no anger. more...

Reason is a faculty far larger than mere objective force. When either the political or the scientific discourse announces itself as the voice of reason, it is playing God, and should be spanked and stood in the corner. more...

The Earth is beautiful, and bright, and kindly, but that is not all. The Earth is also terrible, and dark, and cruel. The rabbit shrieks dying in the green meadows. The mountains clench their great hands full of hidden fire. There are sharks in the sea, and there is cruelty in men's eyes. more...

You will die. You will not live forever. Nor will any man nor any thing. Nothing is immortal. But only to us is it given to know that we must die. And that is a great gift: the gift of selfhood. For we have only what we know we must lose, what we are willing to lose... That selfhood which is our torment, and our treasure, and our humanity, does not endure. It changes; it is gone, a wave on the sea. Would you have the sea grow still and the tides cease, to save one wave, to save yourself? more...

We're each of us alone, to be sure. What can you do but hold your hand out in the dark? more...

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

Where does your soul go, when you die in Hell? more...

What else can the young be? When you are on the bottom, you must organize from the bottom up more...

The law of evolution is that the strongest survives. more...

Those who build walls are their own prisoners. I'm going to go fulfill my proper function in the social organism. I'm going to unbuild walls. more...

Love is the true condition of human life. more...

Love's just one of the ways through, and it can go wrong, and miss. Pain never misses. But therefore we don't have much choice about enduring it! We will, whether we want to or not. more...

Fiction-and poetry and drama- cleanse the doors of perception. more...

I don't think 'science fiction' is a very good name for it, but it's the name that we've got. It is different from other kinds of writing, I suppose, so it deserves a name of its own. But where I can get prickly and combative is, if I'm just called a sci-fi writer. I'm not. I'm a novelist and poet. Don't shove me into your damn pigeonhole, where I don't fit, because I'm all over. My tentacles are coming out of the pigeonhole in all directions. more...

The place they go towards is a place even less imaginable to us than the city of happiness. I cannot describe it at all. It is possible it does not exist. But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas. more...

Odonianism is anarchism. Not the bomb-in-the-pocket stuff, which is terrorism, whatever name it tries to dignify itself with, not the social-Darwinist economic 'libertarianism' of the far right; but anarchism, as prefigured in early Taoist thought, and expounded by Shelley and Kropotkin, Goldman and Goodman. Anarchism's principal target is the authoritarian State (capitalist or socialist); its principle moral-practical theme is cooperation (solidarity, mutual aid). It is the most idealistic, and to me the most interesting, of all political theories. more...

It is a real wilderness, and those who go there should not feel too safe. more...

It win be a device that will permit communication without any time interval between two points in space. The device will not transmit messages, of course; simultaneity is identity. But to our perceptions, that simultaneity will function as a transmission, a sending. So we will be able to use it to talk between worlds, without the long waiting for the message to go and the reply to return that electromagnetic impulses require. It is really a very simple matter. Like a kind of telephone. more...

We have been civilized for a thousand millennia. We have histories of hundreds of those millennia. We have tried everything. Anarchism, in all its forms, with the rest. But I have not tried it. They say there is nothing new under any sun. But if each life is not new, each single life, then why are we born? more...

Public speaking is done in the public tongue, the national or tribal language; and the language of our tribe is the men's language. Of course women learn it. We're not dumb. If you can tell Margaret Thatcher from Ronald Reagan, or Indira Gandhi from General Somoza, by anything they say, tell me how. This is a man's world, so it talks a man's language. more...

If you have to find devices to coax yourself to stay focused on writing, perhaps you should not be writing what you're writing. And if this lack of motivation is a constant problem, perhaps writing is not your forte. I mean, what is the problem? If writing bores you, that is pretty fatal. If that is not the case, but you find that it is hard going and it just doesn't flow, well, what did you expect? It is work; art is work. more...

What she needs, at least one thing she needs, is companionship. After all why should she eat? Who needs her to be alive? What we call psychosis is sometimes simply realism. But human beings can't live on realism alone. more...

In the airport, luggage-laden people rush hither and yon through endless corridors, like souls to each of whom the devil has furnished a different, inaccurate map of the escape route from hell. more...

I went to the springs while the sun was still up, and sitting on a rocky outcrop above the cave mouth I watched the light grow reddish across the misty pools, and listened to the troubled voice of the water. After a while I moved farther up the hill, where I could hear birds singing near and far in the silence of the trees. The presence of the trees was very strong...The big oaks stood so many, so massive in their other life, in their deep, rooted silence: the awe of them came on me, the religion. more...

Little mirrors were attached to the front of their cars, at which they glanced to see where they had been; then they stared ahead again. I had thought that only beetles had this delusion of Progress. more...

I think hard times are coming. We will need writers who can remember freedom. Poets, visionaries, the realists of a larger reality. more...

Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings more...

Success is somebody else's failure. Success is the American Dream we can keep dreaming because most people in most places, including thirty million of ourselves, live wide awake in the terrible reality of poverty. more...

Almost anything carried to a logical extreme becomes depressing. more...

In the tale, in the telling, we are all one blood. Take the tale in your teeth, then, and bite till the blood runs, hoping it's not poison; and we will all come to the end together, and even to the beginning: living, as we do, in the middle. more...

Skill in writing frees you to write what you want to write. It may also show you what you want to write. Craft enables art. more...

Do remember, though, that unless you're a playwright, the result [dialogue] isn't what you want; it's only an element of what you want. Actors embody and re-create the words of drama. In fiction, a tremendous amount of story and character may be given through the dialogue, but the story-world and its people have to be created by the storyteller. If there's nothing in it but disembodied voices, too much is missing. more...

What's needed in this case is conscious and serious practice in hearing, and using, and being used by, other people's voices. more...

If you're a fiction writer, though, I can tell you how to let people talk through you. Listen. Just be quiet, and listen. Let the character talk. Don't censor, don't control. Listen, and write. more...

You sit down and you do it, and you do it, and you do it, until you have learned to do it. more...

Readers, after all, are making the world with you. You give them the materials, but it's the readers who build that world in their own minds. more...

Sure, it's simple, writing for kids... Just as simple as bringing them up. more...

I have never heard a dancer asking for advice about how to stay focused on her footwork, or a painter complaining about the dull day-to-day task of painting. What task worth doing isn't worth daily effort? Do you think Michelangelo was having fun the whole time he was on his back painting the Sistine Chapel's ceiling. more...

Grieving, like being blind, is a strange business; you have to learn how to do it. We seek company in mourning, but after the early bursts of tears, after the praises have been spoken, and the good days remembered, and the lament cried, and the grave closed, there is no company in grief. It is a burden borne alone. more...

Part of the particular interest and beauty of science fiction and fantasy: writer and reader collaborate in world-making. more...

True myths may serve for thousands of years as an inexhaustible source of intellectual speculation, religious joy, ethical inquiry, and artistic renewal. The real mystery is not destroyed by reason. The fake one is. You look at it and it vanishes. You look at the Blonde Hero-really look-and he turns into a gerbil. But you look at Apollo, and he looks back at you. The poet Rilke looked at a statue of Apollo about fifty years ago, and Apollo spoke to him. "You must change your life," he said. When the true myth rises into consciousness, that is always its message. You must change your life. more...

I have decided that the trouble with print is, it never changes its mind. more...

The model of modern Western civilization is the virus: the pure bit of information, which turns its environment into endless reproductions of itself. more...

Secondhand experience breaks down a block from the car lot. more...

Abstractions about right and wrong, whether they are as old as Thou Shalt Not Kill or as modern as Do Your Own Thing, often serve only to confuse and weaken genuine moral decision. more...

Virginity is now a mere preamble or waiting room to be got out of as soon as possible; it is without significance. more...

The pornography of violence of course far exceeds, in volume and general acceptance, sexual pornography, in this Puritan land of ours. more...

The great authors share their souls with us- "literally. more...

If we can get that realistic feminine morality working for us, if we can trust ourselves and so let women think and feel that an unwanted child or an oversize family is wrong - not ethically wrong, not against the rules, but morally wrong, all wrong, wrong like a thalidomide birth, wrong like taking a wrong step that will break your neck - if we can get feminine and human morality out from under the yoke of a dead ethic, then maybe we'll begin to get somewhere on the road that leads to survival. more...

The world is in balance . To light a candle is to cast a shadow. more...

The Earth is beautiful, and bright, and kindly, but that is not all. The Earth is also terrible, and dark, and cruel. more...

If you deny any affinity with another person or kind of person, if you declare it to be wholly different from yourself more...

Legends of prediction are common throughout the whole Household of Man. Gods speak, spirits speak, computers speak. Oracular ambiguity or statistical probability provides loopholes, and discrepancies are expunged by Faith. more...

The pornography of violence of course far exceeds, in volume and general acceptance, sexual pornography, in this Puritan land of ours. Exploiting the apocalypse, selling the holocaust, is a pornography. For the ultimate selling job on ultimate violence one must read those works of fiction issued by our government as manuals of civil defense, in which you learn that there's nothing to be afraid of if you've stockpiled lots of dried fruit. more...

Translation is entirely mysterious. Increasingly I have felt that the art of writing is itself translating, or more like translating than it is like anything else. What is the other text, the original? I have no answer. I suppose it is the source, the deep sea where ideas swim, and one catches them in nets of words and swings them shining into the boat... where in this metaphor they die and get canned and eaten in sandwiches. more...

To me the female principle is, or at least historically has been, basically anarchic. It values order without constraint, rule by custom not by force. It has been the male who enforces order, who constructs power structures, who makes, enforces, and breaks laws. more...

Our roots are in the dark; the earth is our country. Why did we look up for blessing - instead of around, and down? What hope we have lies there. Not in the sky full of orbiting spy-eyes and weaponry, but in the earth we have looked down upon. Not from above, but from below. Not in the light that blinds, but in the dark that nourishes, where human beings grow human souls. more...

The artist deals with what cannot be said in words. more...

He had grown up in a country run by politicians who sent the pilots to man the bombers to kill the babies to make the world safer for children to grow up in. more...

Meeting writers is always so disappointing. I got over wanting to meet live writers quite a long time ago. There is this terrific book that has changed your life, and then you meet the author, and he has shifty eyes and funny shoes and he won't talk about anything except the injustice of the United States income tax structure toward people with fluctuating income, or how to breed Black Angus cows, or something. more...

Writers are egotists. All artists are. They can't be altruists and get their work done. And writers love to whine about the Solitude of the Author's Life, and lock themselves into cork-lined rooms or droop around in bars in order to whine better. But although most writing is done in solitude, I believe that it is done, like all the arts, for an audience. That is to say, with an audience. All the arts are performance arts, only some of them are sneakier about it than others. more...

The menopause is probably the least glamorous topic imaginable; and this is interesting, because it is one of the very few topics to which cling some shreds and remnants of taboo. A serious mention of menopause is usually met with uneasy silence; a sneering reference to it is usually met with relieved sniggers. Both the silence and the sniggering are pretty sure indications of taboo. more...

Certainly the effort to remain unchanged, young, when the body gives so impressive a signal of change as the menopause, is gallant; but it is a stupid, self-sacrificial gallantry, better befitting a boy of twenty than a woman of forty-five or fifty. Let the athletes die young and laurel-crowned. Let the soldiers earn the Purple Hearts. Let women die old, white-crowned, with human hearts. more...

Alone, no one wins freedom. more...

Any artist must expect to work amid the total, rational indifference of everybody else to their work, for years, perhaps for life ... more...

Artists are people who are not at all interested in the facts - only in the truth. more...

Art and Entertainment are the same thing, in that the more deeply and genuinely entertaining a work is, the better art it is. To imply that Art is something heavy and solemn and dull, and Entertainment is modest but jolly and popular, is neo-Victorian idiocy at its worst. more...

Art, like sex, cannot be carried on indefinitely solo; after all, they have the same enemy, sterility. more...

What the brain does by itself is infinitely more fascinating and complex than any response it can make to chemical stimulation. more...

If you deny any affinity with another person or kind of person, if you declare it to be wholly different from yourself - as men have done to women, and class has done to class, and nation has done to nation - you may hate it or deify it; but in either case you have denied its spiritual equality and its human reality. You have made it into a thing, to which the only possible relationship is a power relationship. And thus you have fatally impoverished your own reality. more...

Sometimes I not only stand there and take it, I even smile at them and say I'm sorry. When I feel that smile coming onto my face, I wish I could take my face off and stamp on it. more...

Fantasy is a literature particularly useful for embodying and examining the real difference between good and evil. In an America where our reality may seem degraded to posturing patriotism and self-righteous brutality, imaginative literature continues to question what heroism is, to examine the roots of power, and to offer moral alternatives. Imagination is the instrument of ethics. There are many metaphors besides battle, many choices besides war, and most ways of doing good do not, in fact, involve killing anybody. Fanstasy is good at thinking about those other ways. more...

Dragons are more dangerous, and a good deal commoner, than bears. Fantasy is nearer to poetry, to mysticism, and to insanity than naturalistic fiction is. It is a real wilderness, and those who go there should not feel too safe. more...

The question is always the same with a dragon: will he talk with you or will he eat you? more...

Absolute freedom is absolute responsibility. more...

The future has become uninhabitable. Such hopelessness can arise, I think, only from an inability to face the present, to live in the present, to live as a responsible being among other beings in this sacred world here and now, which is all we have, and all we need, to found our hope upon. more...

Hope is a slow business. more...

Safety lies in catering to the in-group. We are not all brave. All I would ask of writers who find it hard to question the universal validity of their personal opinions and affiliations is that they consider this: Every group we belong to - by gender, sex, race, religion, age - is an in-group, surrounded by an immense out-group, living next door and all over the world, who will be alive as far into the future as humanity has a future. That out-group is called other people. It is for them that we write. more...

The reason literacy is important is that literature is the operating instructions. The best manual we have. The most useful guide to the country we're visiting, life. more...

The borderline between prose and poetry is one of those fog-shrouded literary minefields where the wary explorer gets blown to bits before ever seeing anything clearly. It is full of barbed wire and the stumps of dead opinions. more...

What good is music? None ... and that is the point. To the world and its states and armies and factories and Leaders, music says, 'You are irrelevant'; and, arrogant and gentle as a god, to the suffering man it says only, 'Listen.' For being saved is not the point. Music saves nothing. Merciful, uncaring, it denies and breaks down all the shelters, the houses men build for themselves, that they may see the sky. more...

When the genuine myth rises into consciousness, that is always its message. You must change your life. more...

What is love of one's country; is it hate of one's uncountry? Then it's not a good thing. more...

You cannot blame everything on the enemy. more...

Science fiction properly conceived, like all serious fiction, however funny, is a way of trying to describe what is in fact going on, what people actually do and feel, how people relate to everything else in this vast sack, this belly of the universe, this womb of things to be and tomb of things that were, this unending story. more...

If you want to know all about the sea ... and ask the sea itself, what does it say? Grumble grumble swish swish. It is too busy being itself to know anything about itself. more...

there are times when you have to speak because silence is betrayal. more...

Fake realism is the escapist literature of our time. And probably the ultimate escapist reading is that masterpiece of total unreality, the daily stock market report. more...

It is hard to swear when sex is not dirty and blasphemy does not exist. more...

Prose writers are interested mostly in life and commas. more...

as a writer you are free. You are about the freest person that ever was. Your freedom is what you have bought with your solitude, your loneliness. You are in the country where you make up the rules, the laws. You are both dictator and obedient populace. It is a country nobody has ever explored before. It is up to you to make the maps, to build the cities. Nobody else in the world can do it, or ever could do it, or ever will be able to do it again. more...

Lying is the misuse of language. We know that. We need to remember that it works the other way round too. Even with the best intentions, language misused, language used stupidly, carelessly, brutally, language used wrongly, breeds lies, half-truths, confusion. In that sense you can say that grammar is morality. And it is in that sense that I say a writer's first duty is to use language well. more...

No matter how successful, beloved, influential her work was, when a woman author dies, nine times out of ten, she gets dropped from the lists, the courses, the anthologies, while the men get kept. ... If she had the nerve to have children, her chances of getting dropped are higher still. ... So if you want your writing to be taken seriously, don't marry and have kids, and above all, don't die. But if you have to die, commit suicide. They approve of that. more...

What is a body that casts no shadow? Nothing, a formlessness, two-dimensional, a comic-strip character. If I deny my own profound relationship with evil I deny my own reality. I cannot do, or make; I can only undo, unmake. more...

The backside of heroism is often rather sad; women and servants know that. They know also that the heroism may be no less real for that. But achievement is smaller than men think. What is large is the sky, the earth, the sea, the soul. more...

A moral choice in its basic terms appears to be a choice that favors survival: a choice made in favor of life. more...

Crankish attacks on the freedom to read are common at present. When backed and coordinated by organized groups, they become sinister. more...

There are dance artists, painting artists and writing artists. Authors are writing artists. You can practice art in whatever medium you choose, and words are mine. more...

I have no control over my writing. I have lots of good intentions, but no control. There's a story that wants to be told. more...

After a long time spent learning how to write as a woman instead of as an honorary man, I was able to come back to Earthsea and write the next three books in another and newer tradition: that of questioning, rather than accepting, the gendering of power as male. more...

If your voice is heard by more people because you've earned some kind of name and fame, your silence on an issue of urgent moral importance is even more of a betrayal. Privilege is obligation. more...

... the habit of literature [is] the best defense against believing the half-truths of ideologues and the lies of demagogues. more...

We read books to find out who we are. more...

To see a candle's light, one must take it into a dark place. This is the same as to see the good and be grateful, one must compare and contrast it with something worse - not better! more...

No man, no power, can bind the action of wizardry or still the words of power. For they are the very words of Making, and one who could silence them could unmake the world. more...

Life rises out of death, death rises out of life; in being opposite they yearn to each other, they give birth to each other and are forever reborn. And with them, all is reborn, the flower of the apple tree, the light of the stars. In life is death. In death is rebirth. What then is life without death? Life unchanging, everlasting, eternal?-What is it but death-death without rebirth? more...

You fear them because you fear death, and rightly: for death is terrible and must be feared,' the mage said...'And life is also a terrible thing,' Ged said, 'and must be feared and praised. more...

Death and life are the same thing-like the two sides of my hand, the palm and the back. And still the palm and the back are not the same...They can be neither separated, nor mixed. more...

She'll die.' 'Aye. That's a consequence of being alive. more...

But you must not change one thing, one pebble, one grain of sand, until you know what good and evil will follow on that act. The world is in balance, in Equilibrium. A wizard's power of Changing and Summoning can shake the balance of the world. It is dangerous, that power...It must follow knowledge, and serve need. more...

I always wondered why the makers leave housekeeping and cooking out of their tales. Isn't it what all the great wars and battles are fought for - so that at day's end a family may eat together in a peaceful house? more...

I know people, I know towns, farms, hills and rivers and rocks, I know how the sun at sunset in autumn falls on the side of a certain plowland in the hills; but what is the sense of giving a boundary to all that, of giving a name and ceasing to love where the name ceases to apply? more...

He was appalled by the examination system, when it was explained to him, he could not imagine a greater detterent to the natural wish to learn than this pattern of cramming in information and disgorging it on demand. more...

But it doesn't take a thousand men to open a door, my lord." "It might to keep it open. more...

What is life without incompatible realities? more...

From that time forth he believed that the wise man is one who never sets himself apart from other living things, whether they have speech or not, and in later years he strove long to learn what can be learned, in silence, from the eyes of animals, the flight of birds, the great slow gestures of trees. more...

Living, being in the world, was a much greater and stranger thing than she had ever dreamed. more...

I believe that all novels, ... deal with character, and that it is to express character - not to preach doctrines, sing songs, or celebrate the glories of the British Empire, that the form of the novel, so clumsy, verbose, and undramatic, so rich, elastic, and alive, has been evolved ... The great novelists have brought us to see whatever they wish us to see through some character. Otherwise they would not be novelists, but poet, historians, or pamphleteers. more...

I write with all my heart more...

I think hard times are coming when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine some real grounds for hope. We will need writers who can remember freedom. Poets, visionaries-the realists of a larger reality. more...

The artist deals with what cannot be said in words. The artist whose medium is fiction does this in words. The novelist says in words what cannot be said in words. more...

But need alone is not enough to set power free: there must be knowledge. more...

He knew now, and the knowledge was hard, that his task had never been to undo what he had done, but to finish what he had begun. more...

Fire and fear, good servants, bad lords. more...

Capitalism's grow-or-die imperative stands radically at odds with ecology's imperative of interdependence and limit. The two imperatives can no longer coexist with each other; nor can any society founded on the myth that they can be reconciled hope to survive. Either we will establish an ecological society or society will go under for everyone, irrespective of his or her status. more...

Do you know how to read?" "No. It is one of the black arts." He nodded. "But a useful one," he said. more...

A profound love between two people involves, after all, the power and chance of doing profound hurt. more...

Reading is performance. The reader-the child under the blanket with a flashlight, the woman at the kitchen table, the man at the library desk-performs the work. The performance is silent. The readers hear the sounds of the words and the beat of the sentences only in their inner ear. Silent drummers on noiseless drums. An amazing performance in an amazing theater. more...

In many college English courses the words "myth" and "symbol" are given a tremendous charge of significance. You just ain't no good unless you can see a symbol hiding, like a scared gerbil, under every page. And in many creative writing course the little beasts multiply, the place swarms with them. What does this Mean? What does that Symbolize? What is the Underlying Mythos? Kids come lurching out of such courses with a brain full of gerbils. And they sit down and write a lot of empty pomposity, under the impression that that's how Melville did it. more...

But now his dry and silent grieving for his lost wife must end, for there she stood, the fierce, recalcitrant, and fragile stranger, forever to be won again. more...

The explorer who will not come back or send back his ships to tell his tale is not an explorer, only an adventurer; and his sons are born in exile. more...

Maybe when you meet the people you are supposed to meet you know it, without knowing it. more...

And I needed a rock. Something to hold onto, to stand on. Something solid. Because everything was going soft, turning into mush, into marsh, into fog. Fog closing in on all sides. I didn't know where I was at all. more...

Great artists make the roads; good teachers and good companions can point them out. But there ain't no free rides, baby. No hitchhiking. And if you want to strike out in any new direction - you go alone. With a machete in your hand and the fear of God in your heart. more...

I've got some gift for languages. You follow your gift. But Latin's not easy. more...

I don't write tracts, I write novels. I'm not a preacher, I'm a fiction writer. more...

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

As great scientists have said and as all children know, it is above all by the imagination that we achieve perception, and compassion, and hope. more...

When action grows unprofitable, gather information; when information grows unprofitable, sleep. more...

I get a lot of moral guidance from reading novels, so I guess I expect my novels to offer some moral guidance, but they're not blueprints for action, ever. more...

Inventions have long since reached their limit, and I see no hope for further development. more...

I don't teach writing classes anymore, and I'm really glad I don't, because I would feel very strange about telling people, 'Go out there and be a writer, and make a living from it.' more...

He is far too intelligent to become really cerebral. more...

There's a good deal in common between the mind's eye and the TV screen, and though the TV set has all too often been the boobtube, it could be, it can be, the box of dreams. more...

Writers have to get used to launching something beautiful and watching it crash and burn. They also have to learn when to let go control, when the work takes off on its own and flies, farther than they ever planned or imagined, to places they didn't know they knew. more...

A writer either speaks to adults and bores kids, or speaks to kids and upsets adults. more...

To read and to write. Some writers have to be told to write. They think their job is to meet agents and have experiences and they can just be rich and famous. Their job is to write. Some really don't realize that. And you can't write unless you read. more...

Owning is owing, having is hoarding. more...

Fantasy is probably the oldest literary device for talking about reality. more...

My soul is ten thousand miles wide and extremely invisibly deep. It is the same size as the sea, and you cannot, you cannot cram it into beer cans and fingernails and stake it out in lots and own it. It will drown you all and never even notice. more...

I do not care what comes after; I have seen the dragons on the wind of morning. more...

Belief is the wound that knowledge heals. more...

When you light a candle, you also cast a shadow. more...

To be whole is to be part; true voyage is return. more...

To be oneself is a rare thing, and a great one. more...

A man would know the end he goes to, but he cannot know it if he does not turn, and return to his beginning, and hold that beginning in his being. If he would not be a stick whirled and whelmed in the stream, he must be the stream itself, all of it, from its spring to its sinking in the sea. more...

The story is not in the plot but in the telling. more...

The wise needn't ask, the fool asks in vain. more...

No, I don't mean love, when I say patriotism. I mean fear. The fear of the other. And its expressions are political, not poetical: hate, rivalry, aggression. more...

Progress means nothing to presence. more...

Happiness is based on a just discrimination of what is necessary, what is neither necessary nor destructive, and what is destructive. In the middle category, however - that of the unnecessary but undestructive, that of comfort, luxury, exuberance, etc more...

I use a whole lot of half-assed semicolons; there was one of them just now; that was a semicolon after 'semicolons,' and another one after 'now. more...

People who deny the existence of dragons are often eaten by dragons. From within. more...

As a kitten does what all other kittens do, so a child wants to do what other children do, with a wanting that is as powerful as it is mindless. Since we human beings have to learn what we do, we have to start out that way, but human mindfulness begins where that wish to be the same leaves off. more...

To oppose something is to maintain it... You must go somewhere else; you must have another goal; then you walk a different road. more...

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. more...

I am living in a nightmare, from which from time to time I wake in sleep. more...

There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories. more...

Everything gives way before the recurring torment and festivity of passion. more...

The machine conceals the machinations. more...

But it is one thing to read about dragons and another to meet them. more...

And I speak of spiritual suffering! Of people seeing their talent, their work, their lives wasted. Of good minds submitting to stupid ones. Of strength and courage strangled by envy, greed for power, fear of change. Change is freedom, change is life more...

There are souls, he thought, whose umbilicus has never been cut. They never got weaned from the universe. They do not understand death as an enemy; they look forward to rotting and turning into humus. more...

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...There is no strength to be gained from hurting one another. Only weakness. more...

Not even need and love can defeat fate... more...

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

Claude Levi-Strauss has been a great source of fruitful irritation to my mind. more...

In art, 'good enough' is not good enough. more...

Sci-fi uses the images that sf - starting with H.G. Wells - made familiar: space travel, aliens, galactic wars and federations, time machines, et cetera, taking them literally, not caring if they are possible or even plausible. It has no interest in or relation to real science or technology. It's fantasy in space suits. Spectacle. Wizards with lasers. Kids with ray guns. I've written both, but I have to say I respect science fiction enough that I wince when people call it sci-fi. more...

Science fiction - and the correct shortcut is 'sf' - uses actual scientific facts or theories for the source ideas or framework of the story. It has some scientific content, however speculative. If it breaks a law of physics, it knows it's doing so and follows up the consequences. If it invents a society of aliens, it does so with some respect for and knowledge of the social sciences and what you might call social probabilities. And some of it is literarily self-aware enough to treat its metaphors as metaphors. more...

Science fiction is not predictive; it is descriptive.... Prediction is the business of prophets, clairvoyants, and futurologists. It is not the business of novelists. A novelist's business is lying.... Open your eyes; listen, listen. That is what the novelists say. But they don't tell you what you will see and hear. All they can tell you is what they have seen and heard, in their time in this world, a third of it spent in sleep and dreaming, another third of it spent in telling lies. more...

Those who dislike fantasy are very often equally bored or repelled by science. They don't like either hobbits, or quasars; they don't feel at home with them; they don't want complexities, remoteness. If there is any such connection, I'll bet that it is basically an aesthetic one more...

As a writer, you are free. more...

Even a poet cannot get everything right. more...

Literacy is so you can read the operating instructions. more...

The living tongue that tells the word, the living ear that hears it, bind and bond us in the communion we long for in the silence of our inner solitude. more...

We will not know our own injustice if we cannot imagine justice. We will not be free if we do not imagine freedom. We cannot demand that anyone try to attain justice and freedom who has not had a chance to imagine them as attainable. more...

Besides, when you say you're a feminist it annoys the bigots and the old farts and the prissy ladies so much, it's kind of irresistible. more...

I don't believe that a writer 'gets' (takes into the head) an 'idea' (some sort of mental object) 'from' somewhere, and then turns it into words, and writes them on paper. At least in my experience, it doesn't work that way. The stuff has to be transformed into oneself, it has to be composted, before it can grow into a story. more...

Love does not obey the mind, and turns to hate when forced. more...

All knowledge is local, all truth is partial. No truth can make another truth untrue. All knowledge is part of the whole knowledge. Once you have seen the larger pattern, you cannot go back to seeing the part as the whole. more...

Translation is entirely mysterious. Increasingly I have felt that the art of writing is itself translating, or more like translating than it is like anything else more...

I do' think "science fiction" is a very good name for it, but it's the name that we"ve got. It is different from other kinds of writing, I suppose, so it deserves a name of its own. But where I can get prickly and combative is, if I'm just called a sci-fi writer. I'm not. I'm a novelist and poet. Do' shove me into your damn pigeonhole, where I do' fit, because I'm all over. My tentacles are coming out of the pigeonhole in all directions. more...

I don't want to be a propagandist, no matter how good the cause. I want to tell stories. It's just that the stories have to square with my consciousness as a woman and my conscience as a human being. more...

You must come to terms with your wholeself. the wholeness which exceeds all our virtue and all our vice. more...

There is no information about corporations. There is only disinformation. more...

The reader can't take much for granted in a fiction where the scenery can eat the characters. more...

A panda walks into a tea room and ordered a salad and ate it. Then it pulled out a pistol, shot the man in the next table dead, and walked out. Everyone rushed after it, shouting "Stop! Stop! Why did you do that?" "Becuase I am a panda," said the panda. "That's what pandas do. If you don't believe me, look in the dictionary." So they looked in the dictionary and sure enough they found Panda: Racoon-like animal of Asia. Eats shoots and leaves. more...

I gather that a lot of the "pots" in the great museum in Baghdad, which we allowed to be looted and then gutted, are now for sale to the highest bidder on the art and archeology black market. This is good capitalism, I guess, while a museum, being a public trust and accessible to all, is anticapitalist, pretty damn near socialist in fact. more...

Growing up during World War II certainly affected my whole view of life, but I hardly know how, it goes so deep. What's hard to explain now is that, though we were never invaded, and bombed only once and ineffectively on the coast of Oregon, everybody in the country was in that war. Everything we did was influenced by it - eating, traveling, dressing, thinking - everything in daily life. more...

I know that nobody who hasn't been in battle or under attack can know what war is. But even in terms of being safe at home, it's also true that many Americans who think they know what being at war is, don't. Including, of course, George W. Bush and his people. They don't have a clue. more...

To have a choice at all is to be privileged. more...

Much arrogance is necessary equipment for an artist, I think. Not sufficient, but necessary. It carries one across the gaps. more...

The label YA actually means nothing except that the protagonists, or some of them, are young. Publishers like it because it is a secure marketing niche. But the cost of security is exclusion from literary consideration. more...

I think what's happening is, it's all - fantasy, science fiction, ghosts, trolls, whatever - finally being called, being admitted to be literature. The way it used to be, before the Realists and the bloody Modernists took over. more...

I have become very critical of the whole book award system and could preach on that subject for quite a while, but I do know what an award can mean to a writer early in her career. It can give an essential validation. more...

It's probably simply a matter of temperament that I never stopped to wonder if I could "match" what I had done, never choked off my writing by competing with myself, or with anybody else for that matter. My ambition was absolutely centered on the work itself, never on what it would bring me, or "who" it would make me. I never cared about that at all. more...

There's a great fear of the imagination. It's a dangerous thing. It's out of control, it's subversive. more...

Summon up a supper, he said. Oh, I could. On golden plates, if you like. But that's illusion, and when you eat illusions you end up hungrier than before. more...

Is it different, then, for men and for women? What isn't, dearie? more...

Belief in heaven and hell is a big deal in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and some forms of doctrinaire Buddhism. For the rest of us it's simply meaningless. We don't live in order to die, we live in order to live. more...

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. more...

What's to gain by silence? more...

Long ago we parted, said the slight, still man of the Fiia. Longer ago we were one. What we are not, they are. What we are, they are not. Think of the sunlight and the grass and the trees that bear fruit, Semley; think that not all roads that lead down lead up as well. more...

The High-Intelligence Life Forms of the planet, of which there were at least three species, all of low technological achievement, they would ignore or enslave or extirpate, whichever was most convenient. For to an aggressive people only technology mattered. more...

It did not matter, after all. He was only one man. One man's fate is not important. If it is not, what is? He could not endure those remembered words. more...

He detested them for forcing helplessness upon him. more...

Between thought and spoken word is a gap where intention can enter, the symbol twisted aside, and the lie come to be. more...

He liked the vast openness of sky and prairie, and found loneliness a pleasure with so immense a domain to be alone in. more...

The juniper-scented liquor had volatilized his thoughts; he should be thinking that madness caused this man to call himself a king, but was thinking rather that kingship had driven this man mad. more...

It seemed, at least, that they had not taught the boy to lie. But they had not taught him to know truth from lies. more...

They prevented men from doing anything. But they did nothing themselves. They did not rule, they only blighted. more...

You thought, as a boy, that a mage is one who can do anything. So I thought, once. So did we all. And the truth is that as a man's real power grows and his knowledge widens, ever the way he can follow grows narrower: until at last he chooses nothing, but does only and wholly what he must do... more...

It is light that defeats the dark. more...

He had almost yielded, but not quite. He had not consented. It is very hard for evil to take hold of the unconsenting soul. more...

All I know is the dark, the night underground. And that's all there really is. That's all there is to know, in the end. The silence, and the dark. You know everything, wizard. But I know one thing-the one true thing! more...

As she stumbled forward she cried out in her mind, which was as dark, as shaken as the subterranean vault, Forgive me. O my Masters, O unnamed ones, most ancient ones, forgive me, forgive me! There was no answer. There had never been an answer. more...

Young he was not, so that one had to call him old, but the word did not suit him. more...

Those were men in whom great strength and knowledge served the will to evil and fed upon it. Whether the wizardry that serves a better end may always prove the stronger, we do not know. We hope. more...

No, I don't understand him, but he is worth listening to. more...

He resolved not to speak again until he had controlled his temper. more...

But you knew them to be evil men- Was I to join them therefore? To let their acts rule my own? I will not make their choices for them, nor will I let them make mine for me! more...

Is it a wicked thing, then? I should call it a misunderstanding, rather. A misunderstanding of life. Death and life are the same thing-like the two sides of my hand, the palm and the back. And still the palm and the back are not the same...They can be neither separated, nor mixed. more...

Well, he said. Strange roads have strange guides. Let's go on. more...

The first lesson on Roke, and the last is, Do what is needful! And no more. The lessons in between, then, must consist in learning what is needful. They do. more...

What harm have the trees done them? he said. Must they punish the grass for their own faults? Men are savages, who would set a land afire because they have a quarrel with other men. more...

To see a candle's light, one must take it into a dark place. more...

There's nothing to fear, Lebannen, he said gently, mockingly. They were only the dead. more...

And I know that all I understand about living is having your work to do, and being able to do it. That's the pleasure, and the glory, and all. And if you can't do the work, or it's taken from you, then what's any good? You have to have something.... more...

Is power that-an emptiness? more...

She obeys me, but only because she wants to. It's the only justification for obedience, Ged observed. more...

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). more...

A man wants his virility regarded, a woman wants her femininity appreciated, however indirect and subtle the indications of regard and appreciation. On Winter they will not exist. One is respected and judged only as a human being. It is an appalling experience. more...

Light is the left hand of darkness and darkness the right hand of light. Two are one, life and death, lying together like lovers in kemmer, like hands joined together, like the end and the way. more...

He knew that in so far as one denies what is, one is possessed by what is not, the compulsions, the fantasies, the terrors that flock to fill the void. more...

How could anybody think this man was sick? All right, so he had funny dreams. That was better than being plain mean and hateful, like about one quarter of the people she had ever met. more...

But maybe you're just as glad he's not a shrink, eh? Awful to have your spouse analyzing your unconscious desires across the dinner table, eh? more...

He looked at the machine, its cabinets all standing open; it should be destroyed, he thought. But he had no idea how to do it, nor any will to try. Destruction was not his line; and a machine is more blameless, more sinless even than any animal. It has no intentions whatsoever but our own. more...

There is a bird in a poem by T. S. Eliot who says that mankind cannot bear very much reality; but the bird is mistaken. A man can endure the entire weight of the universe for eighty years. It is unreality that he cannot bear. more...

I haven't any strength, I haven't any character, I'm a born tool. I haven't any destiny. All I have is dreams. And now other people run them. more...

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. more...

He always asked, why thus? why this way, not another way? I answered: Because in what we do daily and in the way we do it, we enact the gods. He said: Then the gods are only what we do. I said: In what we do rightly, the gods are. more...

What is the use trying to describe the flowing of a river at any one moment, and then at the next moment, and then at the next, and the next, and the next? You wear out. You say: There is a great river, and it flows through this land, and we have named it History. more...

All knowledge is local, all truth is partial. No truth can make another truth untrue. All knowledge is part of the whole knowledge. A true line, a true color. Once you have seen the larger pattern, you cannot get back to seeing the part as the whole. more...

It may be in our sexuality that we are most easily enslaved, both men and women. It may be there, even as free men and women, that we find freedom hardest to keep. The politics of the flesh are the roots of power. more...

I was utterly miserable, and yet fearless as I had never been. I was carefree. It was like dying. It would be foolish to worry about anything while one died. more...

What is one man's and one woman's love and desire, against the history of two worlds, the greatest revolution of our lifetimes, the hope, the unending cruelty of our species? A little thing. But a key is a little thing, next to the door it opens. more...

Why must there be war? Oh Lavinia, what a woman's question that is! Because men are men. more...

They say Mars absolves the warrior from the crimes of war, but those who were not the warriors, those for whom the war was said to be fought, even though they never wanted it to be fought, who absolves them? more...

He had grown up in a country run by politicians who sent the pilots to man the bombers to kill the babies to make the world safe for children to grow up in. more...

Virginity is now a mere preamble or waiting room to be got out of as soon as possible; it is without significance. Old age is similarly a waiting room, where you go after life's over and wait for cancer or a stroke. The years before and after the menstrual years are vestigial: the only meaningful condition left to women is that of fruitfulness. more...

The great authors share their souls with us - literally. more...

The literature of the emperor penguin is as forbidding, as inaccessible, as the frozen heart of Antarctica itself. Its beauties may be unearthly, but they are not for us. more...

She had always known that all lives are in common, rejoicing in her kinship to the fish in the tanks of her laboratories, seeking the experience of existences outside the human boundary. more...

Animals do neither good nor evil. They do as they must do.We may call what they do harmful or useful, but good and evil belong to us, who chose to choose what we do. [. . .] The animals need only be and do.We're yoked, and they're free. So to be with an animal is to know a little freedom. more...

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...There is no strength to be gained from hurting one another. Only weakness. more...

He arrived at ideas the slow way, never skating over the clear, hard ice of logic, nor soaring on the slipstreams of imagination, but slogging, plodding along on the heavy ground of existence. more...

In the tale, in the telling, we are all one blood. more...

The hunger of a dragon is slow to wake, but hard to sate. more...

Before the moon I am, what a woman is, a woman of power, a woman's power, deeper than the roots of trees, deeper than the roots of islands, older than the Making, older than the moon. more...


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