Ursula K. Le Guin’s review of Salman Rushdie’s The Enchantress of Florence (2008) has, at least, convinced me to read a whole stack of Ursula K. Le Guin. I mean, how could I resist an author who says this?

Some boast that science has ousted the incomprehensible; others cry that science has driven magic out of the world and plead for “re-enchantment”. But it’s clear that Charles Darwin lived in as wondrous a world, as full of discoveries, amazements and profound mysteries, as that of any fantasist. The people who disenchant the world are not the scientists, but those who see it as meaningless in itself, a machine operated by a deity. Science and literary fantasy would seem to be intellectually incompatible, yet both describe the world; the imagination functions actively in both modes, seeking meaning, and wins intellectual consent through strict attention to detail and coherence of thought, whether one is describing a beetle or an enchantress. Religion, which prescribes and proscribes, is irreconcilable with both of them, and since it demands belief, must shun their common ground, imagination. So the true believer must condemn both Darwin and Rushdie as “disobedient, irreverent, iconoclastic” dissidents from revealed truth.

4 thoughts on “Enchantment”

  1. Blake Stacey said:No matter how many of them I finish, the number of books I have yet to read never fails to astonish me.

    One of the few times I actually feel pleased by my choice to study cinema and be a film buff…I’ve got just over 100 years of film to look back on, and most of that early stuff is lost or (frankly) not that interesting… “OOOH! Train pulling into station! Let’s deconstruct THAT!”

    But when I think of how people who are more literary-minded than I am…man, you’ve got millennia of written/recovered texts! It ALMOST makes my permanently 175-film plus-long Netflix queue seem manageable!

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