Wednesday, August 31, 2011

LHoD, darkness

Back to talk about about shadows in Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness.

SPOILERS

 "[...] due to the influence of the Dark Cult [...]" (159)

Here we see the Handdara referred to as "the Dark Cult."

"An admirable outcome, were this world one Fastness of the Handdara, but alas we must walk forward troubling the new snow, proving and disproving, asking and answering" (159-60).

Underlining is my doing, to emphasize the reference to shadows.

This puts me in mind of when Goss says "Behold, we must sully the plain snow with footprints, in order to get anywhere" (57). Snow is white, so it could be seen as representing the light, and by walking across it your footprints cause shadows. So if light is knowledge, and your footprints cause shadows...huh? Well, if we can't see anything in the blinding light, then the shadows make it possible to see something.

So blinding light is the same as utter darkness? Or am I interpreting this wrong?

"Who will see it in the darkness of my leaves? [. . . .] In the Eye of Meshe are all the stars, and the darknesses between the stars: and all are bright" (163).

The chapter devoted to Meshe, Ch 12, which provides contrast to the Handdara.

First, Meshe finds a leaf hidden in the darkness of the rest of the leaves. So, Meshe sees things hidden in the darkness, perhaps because he shines with light?

Then...the next bit is either emphasizing that darkness and lightness are ultimately the same, or it's saying that Meshe can see everything, whether dark or light. Not sure which.

Page 164 

I ought to spend one post looking at this, and maybe the previous page as well.

"It was the second time I had been locked in the dark with uncomplaining, unhopeful people of Orgoreyn. [. . .] I had ignored that black cellar and gone looking for the substance of Orgoreyn above ground, in daylight. No wonder nothing had seemed real. [. . . .] Darkness was total inside our steel box" (167-8).

Even though Orgoreyn appears to be so bright and sunny there are deep shadows...and in the shadows that Orgoreyn casts, things are really not great. Unlike the shadows in the Handdara, apparently.

"It was so cold outside, so cold and so glaring with white sunlight on white snow [. . . .] our night-entity exposed to the bright cruel daylight. [. . . .] all seemed to shake and glitter with excess of light" (174).

After being pent up in the dark for so long they find it difficult to head out into the light, where they can actually see things.

"Night had fallen and the greater darkness, the payment for the voluntary summoning of the body's full strength, was coming hard upon me; to darkness I must entrust myself, and him" (193).

After using dothe strength Therem has to entrust himself to the "dark."

"Yes; thangen, it's called, the dark sleep" (196).

So that darkness is also known as "thangen," and is the dark sleep.

"The dark secret face was laid bare to the light, to my gaze" (200).

Therem's face is dark, and Genly's gaze is light.










 

2 comments:

Nix said...

I wonder if the negations are related in some way: 'uncomplaining, unhopeful'. This sort of negation used where other people would use a contrary word is in part just a Le Guin stylistic quirk, but they seem to be used deliberately. She uses it in parts of the Earthsea trilogy (probably because of their Taoist underpinnings) and in the slavery stories (many collected in _Four Ways to Forgiveness_), perhaps as a way of showing the negative situation that the slaves are stuck in, and their fatalistic attitude to it.

Sarita Rucker said...

Now that is something I hadn't thought of. Thanks! :)

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