Ursula Le Guin: A Life in Words

Ursula Le Guin: A Life in Words

Perhaps one of the reasons fashion has so much power is that it allows us to tell a story. Ursula Le Guin, who passed away last week at 88, innately understood the importance of storytelling—that storytelling is a fundamental facet of the human experience. I've shared her words before on beauty and aging, and I thought it fitting to return to her words again now in honor of a life spent exploring what it means to be human, and consequentially, helping us to feel less alone.

 

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 Wynn Bullock, Sea Palms, 1968

Wynn Bullock, Sea Palms, 1968

You cannot buy the revolution. You cannot make the revolution. You can only be the revolution. It is in your spirit, or it is nowhere. 

- The Dispossessed

 

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 Wynn Bullock, Tree Trunk, 1971

Wynn Bullock, Tree Trunk, 1971

Living in a world that is valued only as gain, an ever-expanding world-as-frontier that has no worth of its own, no fullness of its own, you live in danger of losing your own worth to yourself. That's when you begin to listen to the voices from the other side, and to ask questions of failure and the dark.

- The Wave in the Mind

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 Wynn Bullock, Let There Be Light, 1954

Wynn Bullock, Let There Be Light, 1954

Why can I never set my heart on a possible thing?

- The Left Hand of Darkness

 

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 Wynn Bullock, Sea and Rocks, 1966

Wynn Bullock, Sea and Rocks, 1966

I think what you mostly do when you find you really are alone is to panic. You rush to the opposite extreme and pack yourself into groups - clubs, teams, societies, types. You suddenly start dressing exactly like the others. It's a way of being invisible. The way you sew the patches on the holes in your blue jeans becomes incredibly important. If you do it wrong you're not with it. That's a peculiar phrase, you know? With it. With what? With them. With the others. All together. Safety in numbers. I'm not me. I'm a basketball letter. I'm a popular kid. I'm my friend's friend. I'm a black leather growth on a Honda. I'm a member. I'm a teenager. You can't see me, all you can see is us. We're safe. And if We see You standing alone by yourself, if you're lucky we'll ignore you. If you're not lucky, we might throw rocks. Because we don't like people standing there with the wrong kind of patches on their jeans reminding us that we're each alone and none of us is safe.

- Very Far Away from Anywhere Else

 

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 Wynn Bullock, Point Lobos Tide Pool, 1972

Wynn Bullock, Point Lobos Tide Pool, 1972

The only questions that really matter are the ones you ask yourself.

 

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 Wynn Bullock, Wood, 1972

Wynn Bullock, Wood, 1972

Because you are human beings you are going to meet failure. You are going to meet disappointment, injustice, betrayal, and irreparable loss. You will find you're weak where you thought yourself strong. You'll work for possessions and then find they possess you. You will find yourself — as I know you already have — in dark places, alone, and afraid.

What I hope for you, for all my sisters and daughters, brothers and sons, is that you will be able to live there, in the dark place. To live in the place that our rationalizing culture of success denies, calling it a place of exile, uninhabitable, foreign.

- A Left-Handed Commencement Address

 

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 Wynn Bullock, Point Lobos Rock, 1973

Wynn Bullock, Point Lobos Rock, 1973

We live in capitalism, its power seems inescapable – but then, so did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art. 

- National Book Awards Speech, 2014

 

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 Wynn Bullock, Untitled, 1970

Wynn Bullock, Untitled, 1970

For we each of us deserve everything, every luxury that was ever piled in the tombs of the dead kings, and we each of us deserve nothing, not a mouthful of bread in hunger. Have we not eaten while another starved? Will you punish us for that? Will you reward us for the virtue of starving while others ate? No man earns punishment, no man earns reward. Free your mind of the idea of deserving, the idea of earning, and you will begin to be able to think.

- The Dispossessed

 

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 Wynn Bullock, Pilings Under Cannery Row, 1958

Wynn Bullock, Pilings Under Cannery Row, 1958

You have nothing. You possess nothing. You own nothing. You are free. All you have is what you are, and what you give.

- The Dispossessed

 

 

 

Feature image Ursula Le Guin by Marian Wood Kolisch © Portland Art Museum, 2009. All post photography by Wynn Bullock (1902-1975) © Bullock Family Photography LLC.

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