crying in the void

it has been a long while since i was so devasted upon finishing a book. i have a new title to add to my list of books i truly, deeply adore: The Left Hand of Darkness, my Ursula LeGuin. i wish i had read it in late teens, in my twenties, thirties… once a decade seems right. this “literature of the fantastic” (see Salman Rushdie’s opinion piece in the NYTimes Ask Yourself Which Books You Truly Love) drew me in to a deep, permanent belief in the world of the Ekumen, Gethen, Karhide, Orgoreyn. i never tired of the philosophical musings here and there–often in a speculative novel i do–but LeGuin is masterly in her telling it like it is. for example:

…not so much admitting light (as I had expected it to) as showing the extent of the darkness.”

p. 274

the above quote reminds me of many a dream, meditation, invocation, consciousness-altering experience, et cetera. darkness held far, far away in my world–even now, staring at this glowing screen, illuminated letters on my keyboard. Meredith writes: “There is no ethic of only always right action – there is only ethic of the balance / the edge of the shadow.” where, then, is my shadow’s edge? my elusive, near-constant companion. the gift of light, the shaper of my waking perception.

i’m curious about the purpose of the place-inside-the-blizzard, that weird gray space that came upon the two doomed travelers as they crossed the ice field (note! i was tempted to rush through the descriptions of crossing the ice-field, this or that kind of crevasse, snowfall, wind. but it felt a dishonor to Ai and Harth to skip the tedium, ignore any of their hardships.). without shadow, they could not make their way. but why was this not a virtue, a place where grayness existed fully, a balance of light and dark? but that wasn’t it, they did not coexist, light and dark. they were erased. the void. if we seek balance, praise it, make references to yin-yang, then why isn’t the void a glorious balance? what isn’t adding up, what am i missing?

i am tired. i am distraught at the ending of this tale. i feel like a child who eagerly sprinted towards adulthood, only to regret not lingering.

what and why is the gray void?

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