The Word for World is Forest: Ursula K. Le Guin

Le Guin’s amazing sci-fi masterpiece, The Word for World is Forest, explores what it means to be human.

In a future where humans have met outer space humanoids or beings of intelligence, culture, community, and language.  In other words, beings that are more like us than we are like animals or plants.

The novel explores community, military, hierarchy, power, slavery, war, murder, gender, identity, transcendence, dreams, and culture change.

Le Guin introduces us to a world named New Tahiti that humans are colonizing … and where the local humanoid race isn’t accepted as fully human.  Culture differences make negotiation and discussion difficult for the radically dissimilar peoples.  Humans enslave the rather submissive people of Athshe, mistaking their docility for ignorance and simplistic thinking.

The goal of humans on New Tahiti is to set up a imperialistic colony that will become a permanent human settlement and provide resources, the most common being lumber, back to Earth.

The story is told in several chapters with each chapter being narrated by one of three characters, a human military commander named Captain Davidson, a researcher of the native inhabitants employed by the military named Raj Lyubov, and a recently widowed, native Athshean named Selver who becomes a god to his people.

Le Guin’s book has many similarities to James Cameron’s famous movie, Avatar.  In both Avatar and The Word for World is Forest humans are taking resources from a planet and thereby destroying the native people’s habitat, scientists and military officers have conflicting agendas, important neurological or mind connections between beings, and the costs of war.

However, my opinion is that The Word for World is Forest is more sophisticated, realistic, and demanding for it’s readers.  It is a book that questions what being an outsider and different really means, whether we are talking about men and women, Caucasians and Asians, or humans and humanoid aliens.

The Word for World is Forest: Ursula K. Le Guin: 9780765324641: Amazon.com: Books.

Daily Life in Korea 64

I got to teach 3rd grade mostly by myself today.  Actually, it was pretty easy because them babies got themselves a routine going and they run through all the lessons in the same order and in the same way.  It’s pretty easy to know what to do even if you don’t know what your lovely white teacher is saying exactly.

Also, 3rd graders scare easy when you shout.  You shout, they shut up.  Or in the case of my second class, you can just wait them out.  Apparently that age is young enough to want approval, delights in playing “adult” and enforcing rules with their peers, and will easier conform and shape up instead of just being jaded and apathetic.  So, my cuties would call out to be quiet to each other and about a minute of me not doing anything would get most of them hushed.  Aww, love my little 3rd graders.  Also, they can’t talk back yet.

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a new sales tactic

“Selling a rice cooker? How much?”

“15 dollars.”

“Why you selling it?”

“Dying, won’t be needing it anymore.  So you interested in it?  I can knock five dollars off.”

That’s not exactly what I said but I think the feeling was pretty similar.

Daily Life in Korea 42

Sometimes I hear old English songs sung in Korean, for example, while watching the Korean drama Love Rain.

When I can remember the English words, I just think of those known lyrics overtop of the weird, unfamiliar Korean lyrics (which are just an affront to the original song).

But when I can’t remember the original lyrics, but just remember the melody-that is infuriating.

During those moments, all I can think is that I know this is a song I know but that I can’t remember.