Tag Archive: “quotes”

Art on Anarres

This quote from Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed resonates strongly with me:

“No distinction was drawn between the arts and the crafts; art was not considered as having a place in life, but as being a basic technique of life, like speech.”

(As with art, so with science.)

The quote is an excerpt from a description of the egalitarian culture of the protagonist’s homeland.

The book is a dialectical dissection of ideas about culture and society and belonging and belongings, told through the device of the main character’s attempt to bridge two very different but intimately related worlds. From my vantage point halfway through the book, the central question is whether the two peoples will be reunited – or whether the reuniter will ultimately find himself without a people. The title underscores that risk, and reminds me of the challenges faced by all who would seek compromise.

Posted on Sunday, April 3rd, 2011.

My Interpretation of the Litany Against Fear

Dune is a work of fiction, but it presents philosophies I accept as powerful kernels of real-world wisdom. Here is the Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear, introduced in Herbert’s 1965 classic:

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

Confrontation and acknowledgement transforms fear into an understanding of risk. To face fear – or to embrace joy, for that matter – is not to be deluded by denial or delight, but to be┬áhuman: to recognize emotion as an indicator of important experience.

As a cognitive tool, the Litany guides us to observe and identify sources of uncertainty. Observation changes challenges by changing how we see them; the paralyzing fog is dispelled by our gaze to reveal specific obstacles that can be attended to in turn.

I think this is especially useful as an approach to the anxiety that can sometimes inhibit opportunity or ambition. What will you tackle next?

Posted on Friday, April 9th, 2010.