September 23rd, 2012

Dead Dog Cat

supposed to be an essay on LeGuin

In A Princess of Mars, a human arrives in an alien land, Mars, and learns of the various nations of this planet, carving out a place for himself via bloodshed and war. In so doing, he makes a place for himself, and apparently manages to impregnate his wife before being thrown back to Earth and Arizona, to his chagrin, before the child could even be hatched from its egg, and before he could have any hand in its rearing.

In The Left Hand of Darkness, a human arrives in an alien land, Gethen, and learns of the various nations of this planet, wandering amongst the nations, and being driven from place after place, a pawn of greater powers, and is rescued by an alien who is capable of either sex. Though there is some fighting, it does not lead to wholesale slaughter. There is also an offspring, real, not imagined, who is born to a close associate to the protagonist, but there is no hint that this could in any way be due to sexual congress between the protagonist and his deliverer. The human begins the process of educating this young one as part of his duty to prepare the way for Gethen to join the Ekumen, peacefully.

The former book was pulp fiction, written in fragments and thrown together to make a novel. The latter was a thoughtful piece of work, written as much as an anthropological tract about an alien people as it was an adventure on a strange world. Burroughs book was intended to excite, LeGuin's to provoke thoughts about what it means to be in a species which needs two sexes to procreate, and what that does to our society.
Dead Dog Cat

(no subject)

We kept busy much of yesterday.

We were out the door pretty quickly in the morning, because my wife had heard about a book fair: Big Orange Book Fair at Chapman College in Orange. We got down there in good time, but as we approached the campus we were concerned because we saw no evidence of advertising for this event. No posters, no signs, no nothing. Then, as we circled the campus, and saw some white tents in the various quads, we realized that all the streets were posted parking by permit only. I expected that there would be signs directing folks to parking lots in the campus, but no...in fact all the lots had signs stating "permit only"! We finally found a street where all the permit signs had been covered, suggesting that they allowed parking there, but it was several blocks away. We arrived on campus to find that half the booths were advertising the various college departments, and most of the rest were small press, specialty runs. A couple of booths sported authors who would sign, but they weren't authors I'd ever heard of. A very small number had books for sale, primarily for charities, including the Chapman College library, but I didn't see any that interested me (though forestcats did). We got a bite to eat from the Barcelona food truck (the only one there), and moved on.

From there, as long as we were in OC, we stopped at a couple of quilt shops, to the latter of which Yelp directed us wrongly, though we did finally find it. Then, onwards, to pick up gardening materials, cat litter, and a bunch of hard ciders and soft drinks.

In the evening, I wrote another essay (one to go!!!), and we did a bit of laundry. More of that today.

I don't much feel like getting out again for the weekend. Next week'll be Yom Kippur, as well as a hospital week for me...