Ursula K. Bloguin

My Blog Gate post for the week has gone up: some thoughts on rereading Le Guin’s The Language of the Night.

There’s some interesting discussion going on around Judith Berman’s latest Blog Gate post about the practical issues of women engaging in hand-to-hand combat.

About JE

James Enge is the author of the World-Fantasy-Award-nominated novel Blood of Ambrose (Pyr, April 2009). His latest book is The Wide World's End. His short fiction has appeared in Swords and Dark Magic (Harper Collins, 2010), Black Gate, the Stabby-Award-winning anthology Blackguards and elsewhere.
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22 Responses to Ursula K. Bloguin

  1. peadarog says:

    The artist deals with what cannot be said in words. The artist whose medium is fiction does this in words. The novelist says in words what cannot be said in words.

    Yet another great quote dredged up by the bading yet sprightly Enge…

    • JE says:

      I am the quote dredger! Maybe this should be my mob-nickname if I go into organized crime. I think it would look good in a headline: “James ‘Quote-Dredger’ Enge is still at large.”

  2. scbutler says:

    I find I either love Le Guin or I hate her. There is no middle ground.

    • JE says:

      I can see that. The more didactic she is in her fiction, the less appealing I find it, certainly. She seems to be best when she’s not so sure she knows the answers.

      • Anonymous says:

        “The more didactic she is in her fiction, the less appealing I find it, certainly.”

        That’s it exactly. The beauty of something like “The Ones Who Walk Away…” lies in the way the point is made almost as an afterthought. There is no axe grinding against the prose.

        • JE says:

          That’s a good example. I used to get mad at that story, because the guys leaving Omelas weren’t doing anything for the victims of Omelas. Then later on it occurred to me that I was blaming her for my interpretation of the tale, nothing in the tale itself. It was my axe, and I was complaining that she wasn’t grinding it. Or something. I think I need some coffee.

          • marycatelli says:

            Nah, that’s in the story. It’s presented as a noble gesture, rather than a completely futile one.

          • JE says:

            I wouldn’t say it’s futile. At least they’re picking the kind of life they want to lead, at some cost. It doesn’t help the victims of Omelas, of course–but then the walk-aways might be back someday. UKL doesn’t address the issue, so what we think about that is our choice, not hers.

  3. marycatelli says:

    I too found it rather less overwhelming as the years went by.

    • sboydtaylor says:

      Oh, and even the best fighter makes mistakes. I’ve seen some of the most accomplished and feared people in Amtgard taken down by a newbie 12-year-old girl because they got cocky and walked into a stab.

      • JE says:

        Mark Twain says something like this, I think–that the best swordsman in the world doesn’t have to fear the second-best swordsman, but some newbie who’s going to lash out in some unexpected way. (It sounded more convincing in his words–I’m pretty sure he didn’t say “newbie,” for instance.)

    • sboydtaylor says:

      err, sorry mary. hit the wrong reply link 🙂

    • JE says:

      “I too found it rather less overwhelming as the years went by.”

      Yes–they’re mostly occasional pieces, not sustained efforts, and some of the items haven’t aged well. Society has a fundamentally different slant on fantasy, now, so “Why Are Americans Afraid of Dragons?” is a work with historical importance at best.

  4. sboydtaylor says:

    Well, since I don’t have a black gate log in, I guess I’ll just comment here. I do a lot of martial arts and a lot of sword fighting games. Women can be very effective on the battlefield, but they have to use weapons based on the unique shape and mechanics of their body.

    In sword fighting, for instance, women can actually hit HARDER than men if they train very extensively on how to use their hips to generate power. A lot of men never bother to learn this and rely solely on arm/shoulder strength.

    And the key to winning a fight is TIMING, not SPEED. They can be related, but foot speed especially does not translate to hand speed. That’s like comparing apples to beef. They’re both food, but…

    • JE says:

      Thanks for this. You put into words very effectively some incohate objections I had to Theo’s screeds. And I hadn’t known at all about that hip stuff, which makes a lot of sense.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I had my wife read some of the BG thread. She started laughing. Let’s just say Theo’s experiences run counter to those of her youth.

    • JE says:

      I bet. One of the problems I’m seeing with Theo over there is a tendency he has to find his own interpretation of his own experience to be determinative for everyone’s experience. He doesn’t display the Socratic ignorance which is the true sign of know what you’re talking about. Oh, well…

      • Anonymous says:

        I’ve loved what little of Judith Berman’s fiction I’ve read, and I enjoy reading her sketches of life over yonder. The composure with which she’s responded in the BG blog, however, has skyrocketed my respect for her. The Internet needs more people like her, someone I’d enjoy differing with over politics and religion.

        –Jeff Stehman

        • JE says:

          She has been very impressive–arguing the issue on its merits without getting inflammatory (or inflamed).

          I was just reading that Mencken had a form letter he used whenever someone wrote him in disagreement about something: “Dear Sir or Madam, You may be right. Sincerely yours, H.L. Mencken.” Sometimes I wish I had the face to use a response like this, but JB’s approach is better (hence further out of my reach).

  6. burger_eater says:

    Every artist is deeply serious and passionate about their work, and every artist also wears a clown suit and capers in public for pennies.

    Meh. “Doug Masters” isn’t serious and passionate about his work, not if he’s writing about a naked superhero swimming through a pool of rotting meat before screwing 40 women in a row.

    And some artists scorn the pennies. That’s just how it is.

    The real point is that you can never tell by looking at their work which people fall into which catagories.

    • JE says:

      I don’t think Le Guin would count Doug Masters as an artist; he seems to fall under her definition of a hack.

      And I think the relevant part of the second half is the clown suit and the capering. Some people don’t need the pennies, or they have another more reliable source for them (i.e. a day job). But if they don’t get out there and caper they’re not artists.

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