"To be truly radical is to make hope possible, rather than despair convincing." - Raymond Williams

Realists of a larger reality

by Shaun Chamberlin on January 18th, 2019

In 2014 Ursula K. Le Guin accepted the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters with a deliciously powerful speech:

Aware that her time was nearing its end, she declared that her “beautiful reward” was accepted on behalf of, and shared with…

. . . writers of the imagination who, for the last fifty years, watched the beautiful rewards go to the so-called realists.

I think hard times are coming, when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now. Who can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine some real grounds for hope. We will need writers who can remember freedom—poets, visionaries; the realists of a larger reality.

. . . We live in capitalism; its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings.

Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art: the art of words. . . . The name of our beautiful reward is not profit. Its name is freedom.

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Interview on grief, Dark Optimism, aliveness and activism

by Shaun Chamberlin on December 21st, 2014

Kosmos Dark Optimism image

This is an excerpt from a longer video interview Rhonda Fabian conducted with Shaun Chamberlin at the opening of the New Story Summit in Findhorn, Scotland. Part of a Findhorn Foundation documentary initiative.

Transcript originally published in the Kosmos Journal.

Rhonda Fabian: Shaun, please tell me what Dark Optimism means to you.

Dark Optimism is a widely misunderstood term. I get a lot of people coming up to me saying, “Are you feeling dark today, or optimistic?” That’s not quite what I mean. Dark Optimism means being unashamedly positive about the kind of world we could create, but unashamedly realistic about how far we are from doing that right now.

So it’s not that sort of bright shiny optimism, which I can find quite frustrating. It’s more like, “Well everything isn’t fine actually”, you know? It’s an ability to look at the more difficult aspects of where we are and what we’re doing, whilst also retaining a sort of deep faith in human potential. And also drawing on the deeper questions of why we’re really here. And does the state of the world in any way challenge our purpose in being here, or make that impossible? I don’t think it does.
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