Why Lemony?
(the “About Me” page)

April 13, 2008

book report of the spirit

"You see all round you proofs of the inadequacy of material things- how joy, comfort, peace and consolation are not to be found in the transitory things of the world. Is it not then foolishness to refuse to seek these treasures where they may be found? The doors of the spiritual Kingdom are open to all, and without is absolute darkness." -- Abdul-Baha

I read this quote from the Baha'i writings a few weeks ago and what it said was exactly what I needed to hear that day. So I copied it down and stuck it in my pocket and tried to think of something to connect it to so I could write about it, but I was all full of spring flowers and nothing seemed to fit.

I happened upon it again today and in the intervening weeks I happened to read a book that takes this quote and makes a whole novel about it. Whole worlds, really. It's science fiction. The cover claims it to be "The classic novel of science fiction". What do you think it is? I made Billy guess. Give up? It's Ursula K. Le Guin's The Dispossesed (1974), and knowing almost nothing about science fiction, I can't argue whether or not it's actually 'the classic novel of science fiction', but it was pretty good. It's about an anarchist colony on a moon, orbiting around a very materialistic, capitalist (earth-like) planet and what happens when the anarchists have been around long enough that they start stiffening up with too much bureaucracy and ostracize our hero, the physicist with ideas too far out even for the anarchists. He rebels and visits the materialistic planet to be able to talk with his intellectual equals there, with much opposition from his society. When he's there, though, he's completely trapped by the power-grabbing and disgusted by the desire-based culture and can't get any work done there either. In the end... wait, I should let you read it. But here's a quote from near the end that reflects, to a small degree, the ideas in the above quote. Our hero is talking to a room full of party guests about where he comes from.

"No. It is not wonderful. It is an ugly world. Not like this one. Annares is all dusty and dry hills. All meager, all dry. And the people aren't beautiful. They have big hands and feet, like me, and the waiter there. But not big bellies. They get very dirty, and take baths together, nobody here does that. The towns are very small and dull, they are dreary. No palaces. Life is dull, and hard work. You can't always have what you want, or even what you need, because there isn't enough. You Urrasti have enough. Enough air, enough rain, grass, oceans, food, music, buildings, factories, machines, books, clothes, history. You are rich, you own. We are poor, we lack. You have, we do not have. Everything is beautiful here. Only not the faces. On Annares nothing is beautiful, nothing but the faces. The other faces, the men and women. We have nothing but that, nothing but each other. Here you see the jewels, there you see the eyes. And in the eyes you see the splendor, the splendor of the human spirit. Because our men and women are free—possessing nothing, they are free. And you, the possessors, are possessed. You are all in jail. Each alone, solitary, with a heap of what he owns. You live in prison, die in prison. It is all I can see in your eyes—the wall, the wall!"

Yeah, this guy's intense. I love how he talks about the faces and eyes of the people on his world. Pure spirit being its sole attraction. This kind of book is the reason I like sociology so much. Create a fake world any way you like so that you can see what it might be like if this or that aspect were changed from how it is in the here and now. It gives me some perpective, makes me stand back and see everything from a great distance. And I find that very refreshing because it gives me hope that my world doesn't always have to be the way it is now and look how easy it is to imagine it another way. And imagining it different is the first step to making it different. I guess it does fit in with spring flowers after all. Hope, change, the spirit growing toward the light, mm mm mm.

This little bit is going to grow up into a big, purple lilac in a few weeks.

The sun is back, and here's the welcome committee, wearing their sun colors.

Posted by Bahiyyih at April 13, 2008 10:17 PM