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Great interview

I've been casually following reviews of the Sci Fi Channel's "Earthsea" miniseries, and this led me to the following marvelous interview - actually an online Q&A - with Ursula K. Le Guin in the UK Guardian. It only briefly mentions the "Earthsea" miniseries because it was done in February.



( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 19th, 2004 03:53 am (UTC)
You know, I've only read one of her books, and that was a long time ago, but I've actually read a bunch of interviews with her, and she's always seemed like a really unpleasant person. This one is no exception.

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Dec. 19th, 2004 03:18 pm (UTC)
Um, wow, that was an interesting assumption behind what I meant. I would be being pretty hypocritical if I thought someone were unpleasant for shooting from the hip or for being a formidable woman.

I actually think she sounds like a bit of a snob: "I have no great opinion of the Harry Potter books, but I'm going to blast them for not being great literature" struck me as more eyeroll-inducing than an example of shooting from the hip. And "there isn't much to watch on American TV now unless you are into violence and/or canned laughter" is the sort of comment that always makes my teeth ache. Kill Your Television People have always annoyed me, even during the times I haven't made time to watch any myself. The other thing was the way she corrected the interviewer's summation of her novel at the beginning. While I certainly understand the temptation to do that, there is a lot of truth to the whole thing about the author being dead and reader interpretations being what really count.

*shrug* Your mileage may vary, of course.

(Deleted comment)
Dec. 19th, 2004 06:17 pm (UTC)
I don't disagree with her about Harry Potter, but I think what she said about television is not only something to disagree with, but demonstrably false. There are more things currently on television that contain neither violence nor canned laughter than do -- not all of them are good, mind, but it doesn't take much pop culture knowledge to be aware of that. My real objection, though, is more along the lines that if you approach television with the attitude that good programmes can't possibly exist, you will not only be wrong, but you will miss some truly excellent storytelling. And that's a rather ignorant way to approach anything at all, when it comes right down to it.

Dec. 19th, 2004 04:26 pm (UTC)
there is a lot of truth to the whole thing about the author being dead and reader interpretations being what really count.

She addresses that point several times later on in the Q&A session.

As far as the first question was concerned, it asked her what her intention was, and a full answer pretty much required her to mention that she had taoism in mind when she wrote the book and that she didn't intend it as a dystopia. I think if she'd refused to answer on the grounds that the author's interpretation didn't count, it would have been a lot more disrespectful than the answer she did give.
Dec. 20th, 2004 06:28 am (UTC)
This is so at odds with my sense of LeGuin, whom I probably know well enough to call "Ursula," but I always feel uncomfortable doing so. I find her to be completely polite, pleasant, thoughtful, and straightforward. Are you really saying that she's unpleasant or that you disagree with her on a couple of crucial points (like the TV issue)?
Dec. 20th, 2004 01:57 pm (UTC)
Neither. I'm saying precisely what I said, which is that from these interviews I've been reading, she *seems* like an unpleasant person. That impression is based on other people I have known who behave in similar ways and have been decidedly unpleasant people. I could be wrong, of course; I'm just saying how she comes across to me.

On the TV issue, by the way, it's less about me disagreeing with her and more about me perceiving that she's being ignorant and snobbish. If someone says: "I've watched all of the shows on television these days and all of them sucked," then we disagree, and that's fine. If someone says something demonstrably false about television, such as what she said in this interview, then that disappoints me and makes me think less of them. I don't really watch television myself, and I only pick up DVDs based on others' recommendations, but I would know better than pass judgment on the entire genre based on my meager experiences.

Dec. 19th, 2004 06:58 am (UTC)
I blogged this interview shortly after it out last February (and mentioned you, or at least your .sig file, in passing).
Dec. 19th, 2004 08:39 am (UTC)
So you did! And yes, that's a great quote. Another favorite of mine was "Claude Levi-Strauss has been a great source of fruitful irritation to my mind"
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