Friday, July 22, 2011

The Handdara -- pulling things together_1

This post is about Ursula K. le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness. I know I keep saying this, but I really don't recommend continuing here unless you've read the book.

This is sort of notes I'm putting together and putting online for convenience, but if anyone else likes what I've got here then that's great! :)

SPOILERS


I'm putting together things based on what I've got so far in these three posts.

Here I'm pulling together what we've got about the practices and beliefs of the Handdara.

By the way, a Celtic word of "oak" is "dara," which is part of the word "Handdara." Is there anything to that?

Things that I think are rock solid:


Foretelling (because it deserves its own thingy):

*When someone comes for a Foretelling, there is always a price (45)
*Those not part of the Foretellers can harness the hunch, at times (189, 203)
*A Foretelling can only be done at certain times (59)
*Some questions are unanswerable, and will destroy the answerers if forced to answer (60)
*Description of foretelling on pages 61-6
*The Foretellers meet in a locked room, with a physician present. Genly asks the question, the Weaver declares it answerable. Nothing really seems to happen, the Pervert arouses the Celibate who is entering kemmer, until "Faxe raised his hand. At noce each face in the circle turned to him as if he had gathered up their gazes into a sheaf, a skein" (64). All become connected mentally, and Genly is pulled into it. Sexual visions. Finally the answer yes is screamed. " Something about darkness and foreshadows is mentioned. (61-6)
*Nine are involved in the Foretelling
***Five Celibates, one of whom must be in kemmer. All are adepts of the Presence. (63)
*** Two Zanies. They are not sane, and are called "time-dividers." When asked if they can be cured Goss asks "Would you cure a singer of his voice?" (63)
***One Weaver, who holds everything together, and is the "filament" (67)  (63)
***One Pervert, who can be artificially aroused, but it's preferred by some to have a natural pervert.  (63)
*The given answer is an observation (67)
*Implication that one of the Fastesness can have a question answered without paying a price (70)
*This is practiced "To exhibit the perfect uselessness of knowing the answer to the wrong question" (70).


Practices:

*Dothe-strength (151)
***Aided by the strength of the dark (189-94)
***Described in pages (189-94)
***Practitioners can retain unusual strength for extended lengths of time (59, 189-94)
*Untrance (151)
*Stillness (151)
*Fasting for up to a week or month. (151)
***They can begin learning as children (256)
*While celibate they are unlikely to use drugs that make it easier (157)
*The only ritual words Genly ever hears is "Praise then darkness and Creation unfinished" (264)
*They try to avoid finding answers (70)

Beliefs:
*They do not have a belief or disbelief in God, and they find this to be a freedom (153)
*Indication of belief that words carry power (192)
*Ignorance can be gained (56-7)

Nusuth stuff:
*A center of what Handdara is about (60)
*Sometimes things that would seem pretty important to us are nusuth (78, 107, 115-6, 254)
(And I notice that I do not actually define nusuth here...)

What there is not in the Handdara:
*Theory (233)
*Dogma (233)
*Priests (55)
*Institution (55)
* Hierarchy (55)
*Rank (70)
*Status (70)

Related to outside politics:
*It's not unusual for Indwellers to become politically involved (256)
*Faxe is willing to change with the world, but not to change the world himself (69)

Random, other:
*It's a tradition that is 12,000 to 13,000 years old (47, 71)
*Implication that status = shadow (70)



Things that I'm pretty sure of:


Beliefs:
*Belief in cyclical time is indicated (227)
*Focus on similarities, not differences (233)
*Less aware of difference between human and beast (233)

Practices:
*There is an indication that the unused energy of kemmer while one is celibate is channeled into other practices, such as untrance (232)

Nusuth stuff:
*Means "no matter" (60)
(And here's the definition, meaning I'm not 100% sure what it really means)

What is not in the Handdara:

*Vows (55)
*Creed (55)

Random, other:
*The Fastnesses are the "only fixed manifestations" (55)
*People may sped a "night or a lifetime" in a Fastnesses (55)



Things that I'm iffy about:


Practices:
*Indication that they can clear their minds quickly (250)

*Presence (57-8)
***It is a trance, or un-trance (57-8)
***Self loss or self augmentation (57-8)


Nusuth stuff:
*"...ubiquitous and ambiguous negative of the Handdara" (60)


What I don't believe:


*Implication that one can only practice Handdara in certain places (47) -- I don't believe this because Therem takes up Handdara practices during his exile.


Things I need to study to better understand the Handdara:


*On Time and Darkness (162-164)
*Shadows and light
*The Yomeshe, since they are a shadow cast (or the light casting the shadow?) by the Handdara. No, probably they're the light casting the shadow.
*Poem on pages 233-234

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