Saturday, December 10, 2016

a turn on Crow Lane

"I believe that maturity is not an outgrowing but a growing up: that an adult is not a dead child, but a child who has survived. I believe that all the best faculties of a mature human being exist in the child, and that if these faculties are encouraged in youth they will act wisely and well in the adult, but if they are repressed and denied in the child they will stunt and cripple the adult personality. And finally, I believe that one of most deeply human, and humane, of these faculties is the power of imagination: so that it is our pleasant duty, as librarians, or teachers, or parents, or writers, or simply as grownups, to encourage that faculty of imagination in our children, to encourage it to grow freely, to flourish like the green bay tree, by giving it the best, absolutely the the best and purest, nourishment that it can absorb. And never, under any circumstances, to squelch it, or sneer at it, or imply that it is childish, or unmanly, or untrue.

"For fantasy is true, of course. It isn't factual, but it's true. Children know that. Adults know it too and that's precisely why many of them are afraid of fantasy. They know that its truth challenges, even threatens, all that is false, all that is phony, unnecessary, and trivial in the life they have let themselves be forced into living. They are afraid of dragons because they are afraid of freedom.

"So I believe that we should trust our children. Normal children do not confuse reality and fantasy -- they confuse them much less often than we adults do (as a certain great fantasist pointed out in a story called 'The Emperor's New Clothes'). Children know perfectly well that unicorns aren't real, but they also know that books about unicorns, if they are good books, are true books. All too often, that's more than Mummy and Daddy know; for, in denying their childhood, the adults have denied half their knowledge, and are left with the sad, sterile little fact: 'Unicorns aren't real.' It is by such statements as, 'Once upon a time there was a dragon,' or 'In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit' -- it is by such beautiful non-facts that we fantastic human beings may arrive, in our peculiar fashion, at truth."

From The Language of the Night
by Ursula K. Le Guin

We too often forget that tale-telling is thousands of years old. Parents who read to their children or who make up stories are giving them the finest gift in the world.. next to letting them outdoors to play and dream their own stories.



The Crow said...

I do not remember my mother reading to any of us: my father had a grade school educations and had difficulty reading at all.

For some reason, though, I read to the youngest three children in the family, and made up stories to entertain them and neighborhood kids. I think I learned the skills and acquired the desire from learning to read in first and second grade. I don't read nearly as much or as well now. After the cataracts are removed, I look forward to keeping my "head in a book" (mother's complaint) like I did when a kid.

Your tales and artwork lift my spirits and take me away like the illustrated stories did all those years ago. Thank you for that, Susan.

Sean Jeating said...

Ah, ... to imagine ...

Andrew MacLaren-Scott said...

Interesting quote. I am going to have to think about it a bit. The respect given to much fiction sometimes annoys me, for it is all made up. Some people seem to forget that, but, there is surely truth in the quote also.

susan said...

It sounds to me as though your younger siblings got the best of that deal, Martha. I'm sure they appreciated it too.

My parents did read to me and my Dad was a wonderful storyteller besides. That was all just as well since entertainment in post war England was almost all of the homegrown variety. Once I realized they were reading their own books too I insisted on being taught how.

Knowing that you enjoy seeing my pictures and the rest makes doing it all worthwhile. I hope your cataract surgeries go smoothly. I understand the difference afterwards will be amazing.

susan said...

Yes, indeed..

susan said...

Hi Andrew, At this point, I can't help but think that realism is perhaps the least adequate means of understanding or portraying the incredible realities of our existence. The great works of literature suggest that there are other views of human life besides those of shopping malls and corporations. Your own fiction certainly contains truths that can't be described by equations.

Ol'Buzzard said...

The most important thing you can do for children is to read to them.
the Ol'Buzzard

Lindsay Byrnes said...

Hi Susan,
A picture of remarkable colour and detail to support your extract .I always enjoyed reading stories to my children and grandchildren and occasionally the ones I imagined and put into words. Imagination was summed up nicely by ― Albert Einstein “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
Imagination in philosophical treatise
Imagination in philosophical treatises encapsulates the idea of the “noble savage”; a state of nature once as in “childhood bliss” wherein it does to know good and evil, but their independence, along with “the peacefulness of their passions, and their ignorance of vice”, may keep them from doing ill - Reality never submits to theory. (Reference - Erica Anderson in the Schweitzer Album (1965). The same idea’s present in Nietzsche’s “Beyond Good and Evil”.
Best wishes

Tom said...

Ursula le Guin is a favourite author mine, though I haven't read her for some time. There is much wisdom in what she says, as well as in your answers to comments. Beware "gravitas!" that characteristic of people aged 30 going on 80.

susan said...

We couldn't agree more, OB. Reading to children feeds their minds.

susan said...

I'm glad you like the picture, Lindsay. I've always been happy that Einstein left us more than his theories in physics. E=mc2 may stimulate the imaginations of scientists but I prefer a bit more poetry.

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour

from Blake's Songs of Innocence

All the best.

susan said...

Hi Tom, It's always nice to see you've been by for a visit. Yes, Ursula le Guin is an amazing writer and very wise as well. While I never did meet her personally we did exchange letters and compliments once. It's true the single thing that keeps us in balance is to cultivate a good sense of humour.

marja-leena said...

Catching up on you and Crow's adventures! I always enjoy your lovely artwork and fascinating stories, dear Susan.

susan said...

What a fine surprise it is to hear from you, Marja-Leena. I hope you are well.

Crow and I enjoy sharing adventures together so we can spread the stories around a bit. :)

Should Fish More said...

Years ago, decades, I was near the front row in a small auditorium where she was sitting on something like a barstool and talking to a small audience. 50 people, maybe? In Portland. Early 70's.

Her book "Left Hand of Darkness" had come out a year or two before, and I had read it, then my wife Cary and I talked about it endlessly, it seems. The idea that role, stature, heirarchy had to our relationship and life was startling to both of us, and changed both of us, I think. The role of man and woman, together and collectively became the subject for a couple years, until we decided how we would be.

Anyway, the book had been discussed at this get together, wish I could remember if it was a class or what....I asked. "Why did you kill Therem off, at the end?" She was sitting on this tall chair. She took her pipe out of her mouth, looked for a moment at me and said "Thats just what happed."

Beautiful watercolor, and the best of the season to you.

susan said...

It's been a little while since I read that one but I still remember the androgenous Gethenians the protagonist took to be effeminate men. It was a remarkable reading experience for me too and I also remember having a number of conversations about the book. The winter landscape remains one of my enduring memories and their journey across the ice was incredible.

I liked her answer to your question. Have you ever attempted to write fiction yourself? One time some years ago I wrote 9 or 10 chapters into a novel I thought at the time was an interesting concept. I too found that sometimes unexpected (and unplanned) things just happened to my characters.

Thanks for the compliment. Best wishes of the season to you too. It won't be long before we start heading back toward the light.