Quotes from The Dispossessed

Ursula K. Le Guin ·  387 pages

Rating: (60.1K votes)


“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.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, quote from The Dispossessed


“It is our suffering that brings us together. It is not love. Love does not obey the mind, and turns to hate when forced. The bond that binds us is beyond choice. We are brothers. We are brothers in what we share. In pain, which each of us must suffer alone, in hunger, in poverty, in hope, we know our brotherhood. We know it, because we have had to learn it. We know that there is no help for us but from one another, that no hand will save us if we do not reach out our hand. And the hand that you reach out is empty, as mine is. You have nothing. You possess nothing. You own nothing. You are free. All you have is what you are, and what you give.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, quote from The Dispossessed


“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.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, quote from The Dispossessed


“There's a point, around the age of twenty, when you have to choose whether to be like everybody else the rest of your life, or to make a virtue of your peculiarities.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, quote from The Dispossessed


“Change is freedom, change is life.

It's always easier not to think for oneself. Find a nice safe hierarchy and settle in. Don't make changes, don't risk disapproval, don't upset your syndics. It's always easiest to let yourself be governed.

There's a point, around age twenty, when you have to choose whether to be like everybody else the rest of your life, or to make a virtue of your peculiarities.

Those who build walls are their own prisoners. I'm going to go fulfil my proper function in the social organism. I'm going to go unbuild walls.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, quote from The Dispossessed


“My world, my Earth is a ruin. A planet spoiled by the human species. We multiplied and fought and gobbled until there was nothing left, and then we died. We controlled neither appetite nor violence; we did not adapt. We destroyed ourselves. But we destroyed the world first.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, quote from The Dispossessed


“If you evade suffering you also evade the chance of joy. Pleasure you may get, or pleasures, but you will not be fulfilled. You will not know what it is to come home.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, quote from The Dispossessed


“You can’t crush ideas by suppressing them. You can only crush them by ignoring them. By refusing to think, refusing to change.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, quote from The Dispossessed


“The individual cannot bargain with the State. The State recognizes no coinage but power: and it issues the coins itself.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, quote from The Dispossessed


“You cannot take what you have not given, and you must give yourself. 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.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, quote from The Dispossessed


“And I speak of spiritual suffering! Of people seeing their talent, their work, their lives wasted. Of good minds submitting to stupid ones. Of strength and courage strangled by envy, greed for power, fear of change. Change is freedom, change is life”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, quote from The Dispossessed


“We have nothing but our freedom. We have nothing to give you but your own freedom. We have no law but the single principle of mutual aid between individuals. We have no government but the single principle of free association. We have no states, no nations, no presidents, no premiers, no chiefs, no generals, no bosses, no bankers, no landlords, no wages, no charity, no police, no soldiers, no wars. Nor do we have much else. We are sharers, not owners. We are not prosperous. None of us is rich. None of us is powerful. If it is Anarres you want, if it is the future you seek, then I tell you that you must come to it with empty hands. You must come to it alone, and naked, as the child comes into the world, into his future, without any past, without any property, wholly dependent on other people for his life. You cannot take what you have not given, and you must give yourself. 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.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, quote from The Dispossessed


“A child free from the guilt of ownership and the burden of economic competition will grow up with the will to do what needs doing and the capacity for joy in doing it. It is useless work that darkens the heart. The delight of the nursing mother, of the scholar, of the successful hunter, of the good cook, of the skilful maker, of anyone doing needed work and doing it well, - this durable joy is perhaps the deepest source of human affection and of sociality as a whole.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, quote from The Dispossessed


“He tried to read an elementary economics text; it bored him past endurance, it was like listening to somebody interminably recounting a long and stupid dream. He could not force himself to understand how banks functioned and so forth, because all the operations of capitalism were as meaningless to him as the rites of a primitive religion, as barbaric, as elaborate, and as unnecessary. In a human sacrifice to deity there might be at least a mistaken and terrible beauty; in the rites of the moneychangers, where greed, laziness, and envy were assumed to move all men's acts, even the terrible became banal.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, quote from The Dispossessed


“A scientist can pretend that his work isn't himself, it's merely the impersonal truth. An artist can't hide behind the truth. He can't hide anywhere.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, quote from The Dispossessed


“Nothing is yours. It is to use. It is to share. If you will not share it, you cannot use it.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, quote from The Dispossessed


“He was appalled by the examination system, when it was explained to him, he could not imagine a greater detterent to the natural wish to learn than this pattern of cramming in information and disgorging it on demand.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, quote from The Dispossessed


“There was a wall. It did not look important. It was built of uncut rocks roughly mortared. An adult could look right over it, and even a child could climb it. Where it crossed the roadway, instead of having a gate it degenerated into mere geometry, a line, an idea of boundary. But the idea was real. It was important. For seven generations there had been nothing in the world more important than that wall.
Like all walls it was ambiguous, two-faced. What was inside it and what was outside it depended upon which side of it you were on.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, quote from The Dispossessed


“The thing about working with time, instead of against it, he thought, is that it is not wasted. Even pain counts.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, quote from The Dispossessed


“To make a thief, make an owner; to create crime, create laws.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, quote from The Dispossessed


“The explorer who will not come back or send back his ships to tell his tale is not an explorer, only an adventurer; and his sons are born in exile.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, quote from The Dispossessed


“Where does your soul go, when you die in Hell?”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, quote from The Dispossessed


“If you can see a thing whole," he said, "it seems that it's always beautiful. Planets, lives. . . . But close up, a world's all dirt and rocks. And day to day, life's a hard job, you get tired, you loose the pattern. You need distance, interval. The way to see how beautiful earth is, is to see it from the moon. The way to see how beautiful life is, is from the vantage point of death."
"That's all right for Urras. Let it stay off there and be the moon-I don't want it! But I am not going to stand up on a gravestone and look down on life and say, 'O lovely!' I want to see it whole right in the middle of it, here, now. I don't give a hoot for eternity."
"It's nothing to do with eternity," said Shevek, grinning, a thin shaggy man of silver and shadow. "All you have to do to see life as a whole is to see it as mortal. I'll die, you'll die; how could we love each other otherwise? The sun's going to burn out, what else keeps it shining?"
"Ah! your talk, your damned philosophy!"
"Talk? It's not talk. It's not reason. It's hand's touch. I touch the wholeness, I hold it. Which is moonlight, which is Takver? How shall I fear death? When I hold it, when I hold in my hands the light-"
"Don't be propertarian," Takver muttered.
"Dear heart, don't cry."
"I'm not crying. You are. Those are your tears."
"I'm cold. The moonlight's cold."
"Lie down."
A great shiver went through his body as she took him in her arms.
"I'm afraid, Takver," he whispered.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, quote from The Dispossessed


“Fulfillment, Shevek thought, is a function of time. The search for pleasure is circular, repetitive, atemporal, The variety seeking of the spectator, the thrill hunter, the sexually promiscuous, always ends in the same place. It has an end. It comes to the end and has to start over. It is not a journey and return, but a closed cycle, a locked room, a cell.
Outside the locked room is the landscape of time, in which the spirit may, with luck and courage, construct the fragile, makeshift, improbable roads and cities of fidelity: a landscape inhabitable by human beings.
It is not until an act occurs within the landscape of the past and the future that it is a human act. Loyalty, which asserts the continuity of past and future, binding time into a whole, is the root of human strength; there is no good to be done without it.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, quote from The Dispossessed


“You can go home again, the General Temporal Theory asserts, so long as you understand that home is a place where you have never been.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, quote from The Dispossessed


“If a book were written all in numbers, it would be true. It would be just. Nothing said in words ever came out quite even. Things in words got twisted and ran together, instead of staying straight and fitting together. But underneath the words, at the center, like the center of the Square, it all came out even. Everything could change, yet nothing would be lost. If you saw the numbers you could see that, the balance, the pattern. You saw the foundations of the world. And they were solid.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, quote from The Dispossessed


“Would you really like to live in a society where you have no responsibility and no freedom, no choice, only the false option of obedience to the law, or disobedience followed by punishment? Would you really want to go live in a prison?”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, quote from The Dispossessed


About the author

Ursula K. Le Guin
Born place: in Berkeley, California, The United States
Born date October 21, 1929
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