revisiting The Dispossessed via audiobook. I'm going to keep running notes and thoughts in this thread CW'd because it will be all spoilers. what a masterpiece.

The Dispossessed, spoilers 

on the first fucking page we get a meditation on walls, the fact that they are all ambiguous as to what is inside and what is outside, and how that depends on who is asking and where the asker is standing relative to the wall. Le Guin is not messing around.

it jives with my thinking on the difference between borders and boundaries, how borders are violent but boundaries are healthy and how I wish I could articulate the difference better.

The Dispossessed, spoilers 

centering the only wall on the planet on the first page of a book about an "ambiguous utopian" anarco-syndicalist society feels like the first sung lines on the first song of the Refused album The Shape of Punk to Come: "I've got a bone to pick with capitalism, and a few to break"

both are like: let's be very clear about what we are here to do. I love that clarity.

youtu.be/h1eC8de9QG0

The Dispossessed, spoilers 

Le Guin keeps playing with the ambiguous wall metaphor as Shevek is confused watching his planet recede from the spaceship until he sees it set against the blackness of space. is the planet concave or convex? is it a container or is it contained? outside or inside?

The Dispossessed, spoilers 

Shevek feels a rage he's never felt before at encountering the first locked door in his life. "to lock out, to lock in, the same act"

The Dispossessed, spoilers 

this book is a masterpiece because while clearly the anarco-syndicalist society is portrayed as the more favorable one, it's not a breathless propaganda piece. people on aanares wonder about uras, what it would like to be there, the children question why they are being taught to hate the capitalist planet and whether the protections that are in place are not just to keep the capitalists out but to keep the anarchists in.

The Dispossessed, spoilers 

responsibility to one another is freedom. shevek complains about working on the reforestation project when he would rather be doing physics. the book concedes that this society is more work, and it's not glamorous, but these people are free in a way that their sister planet is not.

The Dispossessed, spoilers 

in a lot of ways I identify with shevek, particularly how he retreats to math and physics in his mind as a coping strategy for anxiety.

The Dispossessed, spoilers 

his involvement in the reforestation project has him feeling exhausted and resentful. he would rather be doing physics, and internally feels that other people who don't have the same committed passion he does should be doing this kind of manual labor.

that's such a relatable feeling and the book does not pretend that a century of a successful anarchist society would eliminate that feeling, nor that it's a wrong or bad feeling.

The Dispossessed, spoilers 

and yet despite his resentment about being taken away from his important work on physics to do communally useful labor, he ends up producing one of the most important scientific breakthroughs in history. these things are not incompatible, we can all share the load of society and brilliant work can still happen. or, put another way, progress does not depend on stratifying society into "thinkers" and "workers" that don't overlap and cannot interchange.

The Dispossessed, spoilers 

also everyone is bi and everyone fucks

The Dispossessed, spoilers 

one thing for my first reading I'm looking out for is how surprisingly pro-monogamy it was. I remember it catching me off guard, so I'm keeping an eye out for it. my recollection is that set against the default of polyamory making the choice to only partner with a single person is very weighty and special. but I remember the tone around polyamory being somewhat dismissive and derisive which struck me weird.

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The Dispossessed, spoilers 

on his first morning in Urras Shevek is visited by a servant and scientists. he remarks that the servant looked like an Annaresti, someone from his home planet, but behaved and carried himself in a way he didn't understand. The scientists on the other hand carried themselves like Annaresti but looked and dressed in ways he didn't understand.

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Merveilles

Revel in the marvels of the universe. We are a collective of forward-thinking individuals who strive to better ourselves and our surroundings through constant creation. We express ourselves through music, art, games, and writing. We also put great value in play. A warm welcome to any like-minded people who feel these ideals resonate with them.