18 May 2017

Here for romance

The Dispossessed by Ursula K Le Guin is saying something important about man's proprietary interests. Printed in the back of my limited edition copy (bought it for the pretty cover design) is the quote, 'All you have is what you are, and what you give.' It reminds me of these words of wisdom (from the Disney cartoon, Committed), which has stuck with me ever since: 'What you have is not yours, what you give is yours.'

Ursula K Le Guind. The dispossessed.
New York: Harper Collins, 2015.

But I'm reading for the romance. By romance I mean this ideal relationship with a sexual component between two people.

I find the notion of ownership in romantic relationships barbaric. I confess, conquest is exhilarating — among all the women vying for his attention, he chooses me. I have made him mine. I, however, shiver with disgust whenever I think about myself or someone I love, like a friend or a relative, being 'owned' by someone else.

Whatever happens within the frame of this partnership must be set in motion, perpetuated and preserved by the partners, both.

Here's a passage better expressing the thought:
The language Shevek spoke, the only one he knew, lacked any proprietary idioms for the sexual act. In Pravic it made no sense for a man to say that he had "had" a woman... The usual verb, taking only a plural subject can be translated only by a neutral word like copulate. It meant something two people did, not something one person did, or had... Certainly he had felt that he owned Beshun, possessed her, on some of those starlit nights in the Dust. And she had thought she owned him. But they had both been wrong; and Beshun, despite her sentimentality, knew it; she had kissed him goodbye at last smiling, and let him go. She had not owned him. His own body had, in its first outburst of adult sexual passion, possessed him indeed—and her. But it was over with. It had happened. (p 53)
Le Guin's narration is at its most compelling during the characters' intimate encounters — whether sexual in nature or otherwise. My favorite has the protagonist Shevek arguing with one of his best friends, Bedap. They won't verbally reconcile in the scene, but the lateness of the hour pushes them to spend the night together. Melodramatic but well-executed.
They moved closer together. Shevek turned over onto his face and fell asleep within two minutes. Bedap struggled to hold on to consciousness, slipped into the warmth, deeper, into the defenselessness, the trustfulness of sleep, and slept. In the night one of them cried out aloud, dreaming. The other one reached his arm out sleepily, muttering reassurance, and the blind warm weight of his touch outweighed all fear. (pp 171 – 172)
This, from his wife, is a lesson on honoring a human being as a universe unto himself. It's a pleasure to recite and maybe what I will remember most from the book.
We came, Takver thought, from a great distance to each other. We have always done so. Over great distances, over years, over abysses of chance. It is because he comes from so far away that nothing can separate us. Nothing, no distances, no years, can be greater than the distance that's already between us, the distance of our sex, the difference of our being, our minds; that gap, that abyss which we bridge with the look, with a touch, with a word, the easiest thing in the world. Look how far away he is, asleep. Look how far away he is, he always is. But he comes back, he comes back, he comes back.... (p 321)

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