Wordsmith Wednesday: Ursula K. Le Guin’s “The Lathe of Heaven”

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This week’s Wordsmith Wednesday is the opening passage of Ursula K. Le Guin’s novel, The Lathe of Heaven.

It reads,

“Current-borne, wave-flung, tugged hugely by the whole might of ocean, the jellyfish drifts in the tidal abyss. The light shines through it, and the dark enters it. Borne, flung, tugged from anywhere to anywhere, for in the deep sea there is no compass but nearer and farther, higher and lower, the jellyfish hangs and sways; pulses move slight and quick within it, as the vast diurnal pulses beat in the moondriven sea. Hanging, swaying, pulsing, the most vulnerable and insubstantial creature, it has for its defense the violence and power of the whole ocean, to which it has entrusted its being, its going, and its will.”

In Le Guin’s encapsulation of the life of a jellyfish, we see ourselves. Thrown against all the powers that be, and yet all these powers are the same ones that are meant to be at our disposal. We are born into them, yet they control us nonetheless. In the end, we are vulnerable but we trust that our surroundings, all that we have come to know, will help direct and guide us towards what we are meant to become.

– KK

LeGuin

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