Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin, the first feature documentary about Ursula K. Le Guin, is up and running. In 2015, the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded the project a prestigious production grant, but they won’t release the funding until the entire budget has been raised. So Producer/Director Arwen Curry and her team have launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise the rest of the funding.
In Burns, on Sunday Jan 31, there were two conflicting demonstrations, one by anti-government agitators mostly from outside Harney County, many of them armed — and one by local citizens, none visibly armed, demanding that the outsiders go home. These photographs by Peter Walker are mostly of the local people.
“We have to rely on what’s in the hearts of others.”
That’s what Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward said in the midst of the armed occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge by a group of radical militants dressed up as cowboys. It was a remarkable thing to say, at that point.
Sheriff Ward is a remarkable man. His conduct throughout the intensely divisive, always potentially violent siege has shown steadfast compassion, courage, and loyalty to the democratic principle of free speech. The Oregonian says it well in this editorial:
The occupation of Refuge headquarters drags on, maintained by four loons with no intelligible program beyond posing, posturing, stupid defiance, and wanton destruction, while they rely on the laws and lawmen of the government they despise to keep them safe.
Until they’re cleaned out, we won’t even know the extent of the immediate damage to our property — your property and mine, federal property: this very fragile wildlife refuge, with its ongoing scientific work and its successful collaborations with local ranchers and the Wadatika Paiute people.
So what Sheriff Ward said after the FBI arrest of the ringleaders last week still stands:
“This has been tearing our community apart. It’s time for everyone in this illegal occupation to move on. It doesn’t have to be bloodshed in our community. If we have issues with the way things are going in our government, we have a responsibility as citizens to act on them in an appropriate manner. We don’t arm up and rebel.... This can’t happen anymore. This can’t happen in America. And it can’t happen in Harney County.” — Sheriff Dave Ward
We can now make our own eyewitness report of what happened on the road north from Burns, thanks to this 25-minute video the FBI has released, made from their plane following the chase, roadblock, shooting, and arrests. Though the scene must have been a madhouse of bullhorns and gunshots, the film is eerily silent — as silent as the miles and miles of snowy, forested hills surrounding that stretch of road.
Mr Finicum had said clearly that he’d rather get shot than go to jail. What he did is on the video, and we can all read it as we see it. What I see is a man getting what he wanted.
The first Arabic translation of any of my books, A Wizard of Earthsea, has been published in Egypt. The translator is Mona Elnamoury, and the copyright is held by the publisher, the Egyptian National Center for Translation.
Speech in Acceptance of the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters
To the givers of this beautiful reward, my thanks, from
the heart. My family, my agents, my editors, know that my being here is their
doing as well as my own, and that the beautiful reward is theirs as much as
mine. And I rejoice in accepting it for, and sharing it with, all the writers
who’ve been excluded from literature for so long — my fellow authors of
fantasy and science fiction, writers of the imagination, who for fifty years
have watched the beautiful rewards go to the so-called realists.
Hard times are coming, when we’ll be wanting the voices of
writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, can see through our
fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being,
and even imagine real grounds for hope. We’ll need writers who can remember
freedom — poets, visionaries — realists of a larger reality.
Right now, we need writers who know the difference between
production of a market commodity and the practice of an art. Developing written
material to suit sales strategies in order to maximise corporate profit and
advertising revenue is not the same thing as responsible book publishing or
Yet I see sales departments given control over editorial. I
see my own publishers, in a silly panic of ignorance and greed, charging public
libraries for an e-book 6 or 7 times more than they charge customers. We just
saw a profiteer try to punish a publisher for disobedience, and writers
threatened by corporate fatwa. And I see a lot of us, the producers, who write
the books and make the books, accepting this — letting commodity profiteers
sell us like deodorant, and tell us what to publish, what to write.
Books aren’t just commodities; the profit motive is often in
conflict with the aims of art. 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.
I’ve had a long career as a writer, and a good one, in good
company. Here at the end of it, I don’t want to watch American literature get
sold down the river. We who live by writing and publishing want and should
demand our fair share of the proceeds; but the name of our beautiful reward
isn’t profit. Its name is freedom.
Ursula K. Le Guin
November 19, 2014
This text may be quoted without obtaining permission from
the author, or copied in full so long as the copyright information is included:
Every year people meet at the edge of the ocean, on the two sides of the fence between the two countries, to sing, play, and dance the music of Vera Cruz called “son jarocho.” My daughter Elisabeth has been learning this music, and this year she took a video camera to the Fandango. The fence is so high and now so thick that the people can barely see one another, but the music and love and grief and longing come through, loud and clear.