You Can Only Be The Revolution

Filed in Sagacious, Libra

You cannot take what you have not given, and you must give yourself. You cannot buy the Revolution. You cannot make the Revolution. You can only be the Revolution. It is in your spirit, or it is nowhere.”


Ursula K. Le Guin The Dispossessed  (Venus, Mercury, Vertex, Sun in Libra)


Like, I guess, millions of people, i was obsessed with Ursula K Le Guin’s Earthsea trilogy.

It was like my adolescent bible, existentialist guide, awakener to deeper occult consciousness, intellect challenger, the Everything.

Her other novels were probably equally iconic (The Left Hand of Darkness) but her passing today made me think of the original boy wizard Ged and of the female protagonist in the trilogy, Tenar the trainee priestess.

Did her work influence you at all? Thoughts?

Image: Zdzislaw Beksinski

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19 thoughts on “You Can Only Be The Revolution

  1. I can’t begin to express what she means to me. I left this page open and spent the time I had free in the last two days reading and listening to her speeches and interviews, reading and listening to tributes to her from other writers. I am no more ready now to answer the question “Did her work influence you at all?” Who would I be, how would I even know my own name without her?

  2. Her books made me stop and view the world from a different angle. Earthsea trilogy was stunning and shaped what I read at a very young age. I am so very sad the world has lost her voice.

  3. With my first boyfriend in my twenties, we read the Earthsea trilogy aloud to each other and it remains in my mind as some of the most magical storytelling I’ve ever experienced – how she understood the power of words, the kind of magic she describes, the male/female polarity established and erased – I was Ged and Tenar, I’m turning into a bird, it’s all still real to me. Also just as a person, a feminist, and an anarchist, I love how she embodied her work in the real world. She truly defended freedom. This is a quote I found in her NY Times obituary that I love. “If you cannot or will not imagine the results of your actions, there’s no way you can act morally or responsibly,” she told The Guardian in an interview in 2005. “Little kids can’t do it; babies are morally monsters — completely greedy. Their imagination has to be trained into foresight and empathy.” She was one of the few people who made me feel okay for being human.
    I just realized as well that she studied medieval literature and so do I, so maybe that is why her writing speaks especially strongly to me? Also, this poem keeps me alive, and I just found it on Mystic’s website!
    Thanks for paying tribute.

  4. She also did a translation of the Tao Te Ching which instantly became my favourite. Listen to her read it if you get the chance, it’s wonderful. “Face it – no face. Follow it – no end”

  5. ❤️the earth sea books and all her work continues to guide and inspire my life..

    She lived in my city and I’ve seen her about a couple of times, and am so grateful for her!

  6. Her novels let me escape the horrorshow of my childhood.
    She championed scifi, fantasy, Philip K Dick and imagination.
    She was witty and fearless, poking the bears of Magaret Atwood, literary snobbism and misogyny.
    Her essays on writing made me feel ok about finding a (flawed, imprecise, serviceable) way to express my voice that worked for me. Made me feel good about being an adolescent girl and a geek and excited by magic and wonder.
    I’m so sad she’s gone.

  7. I’ve never read the Earthsea Trilogy. I don’t know how this happened as I was a huge fantasy and sci-fi buff, and I loved her Always Coming Home. Anyway, I need to fix this.

  8. O yes Ged and Earthsea made my life possible for many years. It didn’t hurt that I went straight from reading that into the Jung Society and its associated activities. One of my friends in that cohort had the lightbulb go on that Ged was actually female, archetypally speaking….That is an interesting angle. I finally read the fourth one Tehanu a couple of years ago and it is most interesting indeed. Methinks now is the time for a re-read….

  9. I loved the Earthsea Triolgy. Lookfar, Ged/Sparrowhawk, the gebbeth. What wonderful writing. It was so easy to become lost in those books, in such a fabulous way. Perhaps it’s now time for me to read them again.

    • Was the gebbeth the scary thing? I had a nightmare about that, while reading the books, that is still the scariest dream I’ve ever had.

      Love Ursula though! She’s amazing. HAven’t read her sci fi books since middle school but her Words Are My Matter (came out last year I think) was great.

      I have this quote of hers as inspirito for the book I’m writing:

      Style is a very simple matter: it is all rhythm. Once you get that, you can’t use the wrong words. But on the other hand here am I sitting after half the morning, crammed with ideas, and fisions, and so on, and can’t dislodge them, for lack of the right rhythm. Now this is very profound, what rhythm is, and goes far deeper than words. A sight, an emotion, creates this wave in the mind, long before it makes words to fit it; and in writing (such is my present belief) one has to recapture this, and set this working…and then, as it breaks and tumbles in the mind, it makes words to fit it.

      …the writers’s job is to go down deep enough to being to feel that rhythm, to find it, be moved by it, and let it move memory and imagination to find words.”

      – LeGuin

  10. Oh yes. Besides the Earthsea trilogy, I read tons of her books, including the Dispossessed and The Left Hand Of Darkness. We lost a gifted one today, who deeply impacted me.

  11. Yes! I will miss her so much! Her books are my go-to comfort and sustenance reading – utopian in the best sense, not lala land fantasies but seriously considered and marvellously crafted (p)recreations of possible better ways of doing/thinking things. And I love the way her thinking, as shown in the writing, developed over time e.g. the fourth book of the Earthsea trilogy, written much later, reframed the gender relations she depicted in the cosmology and system of magic elaborated in the first three books. She continued to revisit that world in further fabulous novels and story collections.

    And the other worlds she created are also deeply satisfying – the world of Always Coming Home, the world of The Left Hand of Darkness and The Birthday of the World …

    And as it happens, I was thinking of her all weekend as I carved the double spiral that is a central motif in Always Coming Home into the grip of a staff I’m making for a friend whose only child is about to leave home.

  12. Her influence was massive on me, not just the genre and her incredible storytelling, but how she lived as a writer. How she approached the blank page, rejection … the agony and ecstasy of the creative process.

    And Mystic, you are so right. Ged. Tenar. They were friend and guide when the books themselves were more real to me than people.

    I can’t believe she’s gone.

    But she did reach her Pluto opposition (because of how fast PL moves through Virgo, Scorp & Saggo), which is not something many of us will do. (Pluto takes 248 years to travel once around the earth.)

    As my mother would have said of her passing, an entire library has burned to the ground…

    Thank the gods she left some of her words behind.

  13. Coincidentally I was given the trilogy as a gift for Christmas rom a well-read friend who said I would love these books. So she has recently come into my awareness. I’ve been so enjoying her writing and am knee deep in my first experience reading her work. <3

  14. I resonate with this Mystic – so clearly remember first reading Earthsea as an adolescent. Was like a light in the dark. I can feel her absence today

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