8. "No, listen," she said, "seriously, this is the moment when the betrayal is always made. Free elections, yes; but if we don’t look past that now, when will we? And who’ll do it? Are we a country or a client state changing patrons?"

    "You have to go one step at a time, consolidating — "

    "When the dam breaks? You have to shoot the rapids! All at once!"

    "It’s a matter of choosing direction — "

    "Exactly, direction. Not being carried senselessly by events."

    "But all the events are sweeping in one direction."

    "They always do. Back! You’ll see!"

    "Sweeping to what, to dependence on the West instead of the East, like Fana said?"

    "Dependence is inevitable-realignment, but not occupation — "

    "The hell it won’t be occupation! Occupation by money, materialism, their markets, their values. You don’t think we can hold out against them, do you? What’s social justice to a color-TV set? That battle’s lost before it’s fought. Where do we stand?"

    "Where we always stood. In an absolutely untenable position."

    "He’s right. Seriously, we are exactly where we always were. Nobody else is. We are. They have caught up with us, for a moment, for this moment, and so we can act. The untenable position is the center of power. Now. We can act now."

    "To prevent color-TVzation? How? The dam’s broken! The goodies come flooding in. And we drown in them."

    "Not if we establish the direction, the true direction, right now — "

    "But will Rege listen to us? Why are we turning back when we should be going forward? If we — "

    "We have to establish — "

    "No! We have to act! Freedom can be established only in the moment of freedom — "

    They were all shouting at once in their hoarse, worn-out voices. They had all been talking and listening and drinking bad coffee and living for days, for weeks, on love. Yes, on love; these are lovers’ quarrels. It is for love that he pleads, it is for love that she rages. It was always for love. That’s why the camera snout came poking and sucking into this dirty basement room where the lovers meet. It craves love, the sight of love; for if you can’t have the real thing, you can watch it on TV, and soon you don’t know the real thing from the images on the little screen where everything, as he said, can be done in two seconds. But the lovers know the difference.

    This is a fairy tale, and you know that in the fairy tale, after it says that they lived happily ever after, there is no after. The evil enchantment was broken; the good servant received half the kingdom as his reward; the king ruled long and well. Remember the moment when the betrayal is made, and ask no questions. Do not ask if the poisoned fields grew white again with grain. Do not ask if the leaves of the forests grew green that spring. Do not ask what the maiden received as her reward. Remember the tale of Koshchey the Deathless, whose life was in a needle, and the needle was in an egg, and the egg was in a swan, and the swan was in an eagle, and the eagle was in a wolf, and the wolf was in the palace whose walls were built of the stones of power. Enchantment within enchantment! We are a long way from the egg that holds the needle that must be broken so Koshchey the Deathless can die.

    Ursula K. Le Guin, from Unlocking the Air

    I just rediscovered this author who I adored a couple of years ago. Now I’m wallowing in six of her novels at the same time. It’s a really desperate way of reading but it also seems inevitable in some way. 


  9. These two.