Always Coming Home

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Le Guin, Ursula K. Always Coming Home. New York: Harper, 1985. New York: Bantam, 1986. Todd Barton, composer. Margaret Chodos, illus. George Hersh, geomancer. Maps by UKL.

See esp. the three parts of Stone Telling's story, the section on Time and the City (with careful attention to "The City," and "A Hole in the Air"), and, at The Back of the Book, the sections "About the Train" and "The Metaphor: The Machine" under "Some Generative Metaphors."

In the hypothetical, fairly-far future world of ACH, there are many sites for "computers with mechanical extensions. . . . [forming] the City of Mind." The machines gather and exchange information and explore both the planet and space; the machines interact with humans and allow humans to interact through "the Exchange": to most people "a useful and necessary link to . . . [a number of] necessary and undesirable elements of existence" (Bantam edn. 156-59). The City of Mind correlates with "the City of Man," or "Civilization as we know it" (160). In ACH, sane human people eschew such civilization and cities and choose to live in low-tech villages.

See also "The Visionary: The Life Story of Flicker of the Serpentine of Telina-na" (Harper 1985: pp. 282-304), especially p. 291. From Richard D. Erlich's Coyote's Song: The Teaching Stories of Ursula K. Le Guin (Cabin John, MD: Wildside Press, 2010):[1] — Flicker's vision of an entity we might identify with the Greco-Roman god Vulcan or

Hephaestus in the vision “shaped the vibrations of energies, closing their paths from gyre into wheel . . . . making wheels of energy closed upon themselves, terrible with power, flaming. He who made them was burnt away by them . . . but still he turned the paths of energy and closed them into wheels, locking power into power.” These wheels of the god grind slowly, perhaps, but turn all around them “black and hollow.” * * *

Hephestus/Vulcan [...] is an appropriate god to represent our civilization, a civilization that did, in Always Coming Home, keep “growing and joining until the whole machine was interlocked cog within cog,” finally “burning, exploding, destroyed, falling into black dust” ([Harper ACH] 291; Erlich p. 267).


RDE, early; RDE, finishing 17Nov21