The Left Hand of Darkness

The Left Hand of Darkness is likely to remain my favorite Ursula K. Le Guin novel. It is a great example of the saying that fiction reveals truths reality obscures.

I will probably try writing about it again at a later date. For now, I want to write about just one thing: the challenge of understanding another person. To see the world the way another person does, in terms of knowing what predictions they make about the future, is to know the mechanics of the world, as understood by that person. It does not tell you what it feels like to be that person, faced with that understanding. And to be able to list the person’s preferences and goals may mean you can predict how that person will behave. But can you make the person feel understood?

Separately, because I want to remember it, here’s a great quote from the book:

“A man who doesn’t detest a bad government is a fool. And if there were such a thing as a good government on earth, it would be a great joy to serve it.”

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