Saturday, November 22, 2014

Ursula K. LeGuin's Call to Arms

Ursula K. LeGuin's acceptance speech at the 65th National Book Awards, November 19th 2014.

Her clarion call is a stirring one. The clampdown of fear and the degradation of art in American society go hand-in-hand with the decay of the society itself - they create each other, increasingly fearmongering reality feeding into art which in turn casts the 'real world' in its image ("We need artists who remember freedom," says LeGuin). Creating art is a materialist exercise insofar as physical processes are involved, but its essence is extradimensional; thus capitalism and the materialist episteme in which we live can do little to inform it beyond providing a raw substance from which to transmute. It's true that great art twists the horrors and calamities of 'reality' into beautiful forms. Horror is the fuel for the divine work, but art must be allowed to work with that fuel. If Political Correctness or Religious Mindedness or Marketing Concerns impede our ability to express truly, the resultant transmission will be tainted. It's the job of artists to plot the course of our mutation, to extend the lattice on which the vine of humanity will grow. Obsession (fearful, egoist, wealth) with the material present leaves the future unformed, concern with accessibility and profit over substance leaves our creations cold and half-animated. We do not write for the corporations, for those too weak or single-minded to embrace new visions, for tongue-clucking professors and academics, or for our mothers. We write for the future.

Thank you Ursula for accepting this award on behalf of all the writers of fantasy and science fiction. I trembled when you mentioned hope.

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