These are powerful words from Ursula Le Guin's acceptance speech at the National Book Awards last night in New York, where she won the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.
She was my favorite writers as a teen -- I read every fantasy book written for children, and gobbled her books up. They were for adults technically, but I didn't care.
She is as profound here as in any of her books:
"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. Right now, I think we need writers who know the difference between production of a market commodity and the practice of an art. The profit motive is often in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable; so did the divine right of kings. … Power can be resisted and changed by human beings; resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art—the art of words. I’ve had a long career and a good one, in good company, and here, at the end of it, I really don’t want to watch American literature get sold down the river. … The name of our beautiful reward is not profit. Its name is freedom."
Here is a link to the whole article, New Yorker article.
"We need writers who remember freedom."
Her message about profits is aimed at the Industry.
Maybe this is the genius of science fiction, it imagines a different world and doesn't just accept the one we live in as fact.
Thank you, Ursula, for saving me from my awkward, pre-teen years, when I wanted to escape to a different world, a different planet, where every one was equal and boys and girls could live in harmony.
This was so important to me then, and somehow your worlds gave me that much-needed sense of freedom.
Any one else want to ad a few words of praise for one of America's truly great writers?