October 21, 2016

Happy eighty-seven, Ursula Le Guin!


I see no conflict whatever between science and religion. They come at the world in completely different ways with different purposes. Of course, the purposes overlap to some extent: understanding, we want to undestand who we are, where we come from, where we’re going. But, I mean, what’s the conflict? I don’t understand it. I think it’s prejudice, on either side, that causes any conflict. I think Charles Darwin—who is kind of my hero—was in many ways a deeply religious person. Whether or not he went on believing literally in the Christian Bible I rather doubt. He didn’t say. He didn’t have to. It was irrelevant to what he was doing. But he lived as a Christian morally, he lived a good moral life, and he worked his head off. He did what he loved. You know, what more can you do? Of course you can love both science and religion. Ask the Hindus. The monotheisms are so jealous, they want to just have it all. And that’s dangerous.

That’s the brilliant and wonderful Ursula K. Le Guin, speaking at Portland Community College a few years back. Le Guin—as we’ve written before—is not only revered as writer, but has also made herself indispensable as an activist and critic of the book business in the age of Amazon. She is also, as of today, eighty-seven years old.

Happy birthday, Ursula K. Le Guin! Since you’re too cool to take our calls, we’ll have to content ourselves with this footage of you reading from your 1979 collection The Compass Rose and taking questions from students:

“We don’t really know what we’re doing at this point in publishing. Or writing. Believe me.” You sure said it, Ursula K. Le Guin — as usual.