No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters by Ursula K. LeGuin

“A meaningless question has only meaningless answers.”

pg 132

I didn’t want to put this book full of short blog essays down. The way LeGuin connects ideas and sentences to form something new and writes about witty, frivolous things that transform into profound, universal thoughts is captivating and refreshing and surprising and validating. Her writing makes me want to read and it makes me want to write.

In one of her essays concerning science and religion, LeGuin argues that science and religion are entirely separate things and should stop being shoved together in equations. When she hears people say that they cannot believe in one because of the other she chides, ” . . . But this is rather like saying if you believe in Tuesday you can’t believe in artichokes.” Isn’t she brilliant? In other words, faith is Tuesday and evidence is artichokes. Think is not believe, science is not religion, literal is not figurative – they all have different functions and purposes and origins.

The book has essays about her cat playfully scattered throughout and a life-changing one titled, “A Band of Brothers, A Stream of Sisters,” where she compares “male solidarity” to “female fluidity.” I want to memorize and quote this one all the time: “But when women manage to join the institutions that excluded them, they mostly end up being co-opted by them, serving male ends, enforcing male values” (103). Sigh.

LeGuin, as always, asks meaningful questions and fluidly answers them with more questions, never giving her readers answers, only questions and paths to more questions. From her cat’s kibble to politics to artichokes to death to patriarchy to pain to aging, LeGuin explores language and culture and ideas in this book “about what matters” with her witty, wonderful ways that are a delight to read.