17 August 2010

Le Guin on Art and Fiction

I'm rereading The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin and she has some particularly interesting things to say in the Introduction:
  • The artist deals with what cannot be said in words.
  • The artist whose medium is fiction does this in words.
  • The novelist says in words what cannot be said in words.
  • Words can be used thus paradoxically because they have, along with a semiotic usage, a symbolic or metaphoric usage.
  • All fiction is metaphor.
  • ...the truth is a matter of the imagination.

Wow. My mind is blown. Is she saying the entity an artist creates is greater than the individual elements used to create it? Or maybe, art is also like humanity in that human beings are greater than the sum of their atoms/blood cells/neurons? So, art is a metaphor for humanity? Hhm. I'll have to think about this some more.

What do you think she's getting at?

We Electric Spec Editors have been hard at work on the new issue. Will there be art created with words? Check it out on August 31, 2010!


Simon Kewin said...

Seems to me she's saying there's more to the meaning of writing that the strict meanings of the words. The reader brings a whole set of allusions and associations and emotions that the words trigger, without them actually being "in" the text. Maybe.

As an aside : this is (obviously) a marvellous book from a pretty much divine writer ...

lesleylsmith said...

Interesting, Simon. I think I agree with your interpretation.
As an aside: I agree about The Left Hand of Darkness and Le Guin, too! :)

fairyhedgehog said...

When I think of her The Left Hand of Darkness I see pictures in my mind and feel a sense of sadness. The words she used evoked images and feelings and those are somehow more than just the words.

It's a long time since I read it and I'm not sure I'm currently in the mood to re-read it but it is a wonderful book.