The Wave in the Mind: Talks and Essays on the Writer, the Reader, and the Imagination Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
Join Ursula K. Le Guin as she explores a broad array of subjects, ranging from Tolstoy, Twain, and Tolkien to women's shoes, beauty, and family life. With her customary wit, intelligence, and literary craftsmanship, she offers a diverse and highly engaging set of stories.
The Wave in the Mind includes some of Le Guin's finest literary criticism, rare autobiographical writings, performance-art pieces, and most centrally, her reflections on the arts of writing and reading.
- Click above for unlimited listening to select audiobooks, Audible Originals, and podcasts.
- One credit a month to pick any title from our entire premium selection — yours to keep (you'll use your first credit now).
- You will get an email reminder before your trial ends.
- $14.95 a month after 30 days. Cancel online anytime.
People who viewed this also viewed
People who bought this also bought
Related to this topic
|Listening Length||10 hours and 15 minutes|
|Author||Ursula K. Le Guin|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||July 31, 2018|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #73,091 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#55 in Women Author Literary Criticism
#113 in Women Writers in Women Studies
#151 in Literary Essays
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The collection is full of sage yet humble advice, some of it common sense but easily overlooked, some profound and resonant, but more than anything, the cumulative effect is one of exhilaration. Whatever your art form or pursuit, whatever your personal or intellectual interests, be prepared for your inner creative self to be roused and stirred. Be prepared for inner explosions.
From start to finish, the book is guided not so much by a moral vision as a clear, humane moral stance, one that is open to life’s complexities. Le Guin is fierce in her resolve to wrestle through entangled values, entrenched prejudice, and convoluted issues towards ever greater fairness and justice.
The book’s title comes from Virginia Woolf:
"Style is a very simple matter: it is all rhythm. Once you get that, you can’t use the wrong words. But on the other hand here am I sitting after half the morning, crammed with ideas, and visions, and so on, and can’t dislodge them, for lack of the right rhythm. Now this is very profound, what rhythm is, and goes far deeper than words. A sight, an emotion, creates this wave in the mind, long before it makes words to fit it; and in writing (such is my present belief) one has to recapture this, and set this working (which has nothing apparently to do with words) and then, as it breaks and tumbles in the mind, it makes words to fit it. But no doubt I shall think differently next year. —Virginia Woolf writing to Vita Sackville-West, 16 March 1926"
My writing skill isn’t sufficient to encapsulate the breadth and depth of Le Guin’s essays, so a few quotes will have to do:
“Our mind, denying our cruelty, is trapped in it. It is in our body that we know it, and so perhaps may see how there might be an end to it.”
“The ground of our experience is dark, and all our inventions start in that darkness. From it, some of them leap forth in fire.”
“There are monsters and leviathans and chimeras in the human mind; they are psychic facts. Dragons are one of the truths about us. We have no other way of expressing that particulate truth about us. People who deny the existence of dragons are often eaten by dragons. From within.”
“Fantasy shameless flouts fact, but it as deeply concerned with truth as the grimmest, greyist realism.”
“In dreams begins responsibility, said a poet. In dreams, in imagination, we begin to be one another. I am thou. The barriers go down.”
A few older pieces, in the context of our social media centered world, might feel a tad dated, although still relevant. Nor do I necessarily agree with everything she writes. But she isn’t looking for affirmations and mini-me minions. As any good teacher, she means to point us back to ourselves, to who we are as individuals within communities, hoping only that what she offers may benefit us in some way in our own lives.
One topic I respectfully disagree with her about is the supposed passive nature of viewing. Discussing movies and video games, she contrasts passive viewing with reading, which, to her, is a collaborative activity with the writer. Since a writer can never fully describe a scene in all its sensuous and emotional fullness, it’s left to the reader’s imagination to fill in what is suggested by the writer’s words and metaphors. Reading, then, is an active collaboration between the author’s and reader’s imaginations.
I agree much viewing, when we watch TV, movies and even play video games, can be passive. But as a visual artist, when I visit a museum or gallery I leave exhausted. Looking, truly engaging with what you see, is every bit as active as reading and perhaps even more so, as I am both collaborating with the artist’s vision, examining what is on the painting’s surface in front of me, but also analyzing the artist’s technique, absorbing the way they conceptually frame both their imagery and artistic practice, but also bringing my own memories, associations and speculations to the experience. This isn’t just my opinion, though I knew this before any neurological studies were done of aesthetic experience. The brain’s reward, emotion, memory, and self-representation systems all come online when deeply engaging with visual art, with what is viewed intensely. I’m sure Le Guin wouldn’t dispute any of this, brain studies or not, once pointed out. It’s just that she doesn’t take it into account in her brilliant explications of reading and the writer’s imagination.
That aside, Le Guin writes in a way that makes clear she doesn’t want followers or true believers. Rather, being a true gift giver, she writes in a way that helps the reader spark their own ideas, a way that points to roads that lead back to the reader’s thoughts and hopes, their passions and dreams. It’s a book I’ll be coming back to more than once. It ends with a poem that is both summary and springboard, an extended meditation on creativity and life, and one I can’t wait to share with my university students.
You see, I'm a man. I had nothing to do with that, it was decided for me. What gets a little tiresome to me is the feminist chip you have on your shoulder. Maybe it's not a big one, but I think it's kinda outdated. You see, according to my information and observation, women write most of the books nowadays. What's more, they seem to be reading most of the books that are being read. And it's an established fact that more women are getting undergraduate degrees today than men. So why do you still gripe about male authors and such? I'd like to write a novel for a young male audience, but I don't think it's there anymore, and I'm not sure I can write a book that would please women; and I'm no retrograde patriarchal women-hater.
You griped about women's shoes and imply that men are to blame because women torture their feet so. I've had two wives (not at the same time, and after all, I HAVE been around the block a few times)and I always scolded them for buying high heels or shoes that weren't comfy. I always stressed that comfort was the prime consideration in buying shoes, and I do mean that. But no, they bought shoes that tortured their feet and gave them corns and calluses and what-all. How am I, as a man, responsible for that? As for what happened to upper-class Chinese women in the imperial days, well, I wasn't even born yet, believe it or not, and I think it was really sicko.
I had to get these things off my chest, Ursula, because I'm sincere when I say I'm really a fan of yours, and the only reason I don't give this book 5 stars is because of the occasional whines I hear from you about the horrid men. I hate the Taliban and what Moslem extremists do to women. And hey, let me tell you a little secret: I got my "feminism" in the school of hard knocks, not in a college consciousness-raising session. I was reared by a passive mother and an abusive alcoholic stepfather, and rather early in life I wondered why children had no rights. Thinking beyond that, I realized that children would never have rights until women did. So I AM in favor of women's rights and the rights of children. So please, can you take that little chip off your shoulder? I think male authors are an endangered species. I go to bookstores and libraries and most of the offerings are by women writers. And in my local library branch, "women's issues" take up two standing bookcases. "Men's issues"? A third of one shelf. And women write most of the children's books and "romances," and both genres are doing well, I hear. And the richest author in the world (that Rowling lady) is a woman, of course. Male authors just die and fade away, or drink themselves into oblivion, or blow their brains out. So, please, Ursula,"be not too hard, for life is short, and nothing is given to man," as Joan Baez once sang.
But seriously, you're one of my favorite authors, along with Margaret Atwood and Joyce Carol Oates. Keep up the good work, and I greatly appreciate the valued information you share with writer wannabes, and may that delightfully witty mind of yours never get constipated or congested!
To everyone else: buy this book. You'll love it, regardless of your gender. She shares so much with us!