Online reading group and book discussion forum
  HOME FORUMS BOOKS LINKS DONATE ADVERTISE CONTACT  
View unanswered posts | View active topics It is currently Mon Sep 22, 2014 9:18 pm




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 9 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average. 
Suicide-the ultimate taboo. 
Author Message
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Upwardly Mobile


Joined: Jun 2009
Posts: 91
Location: Florida
Thanks: 6
Thanked: 9 times in 7 posts
Gender: None specified

Post Suicide-the ultimate taboo.
It is stated that suicide looks worse upon a house than murder. Why is this? Why is suicide the ultimate evil on Winter?


_________________
"The constant questioning of our values and achievements is a challenge with which neither science nor society can remain healthy. "
-Bohr.

"Someday, on your tombstone, there will be two dates - and nobody realizes that all that mattered to you was that small dash in between"

In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
- Douglas Adams


Tue Jan 05, 2010 7:26 pm
Profile Email
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Pop up Book Fanatic


Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 10
Thanks: 0
Thanked: 1 time in 1 post
Gender: Female
Country: Germany (de)

Post Re: Suicide-the ultimate taboo.
I have been thinking about this, especially because it bears heavily on the ending. In a Tolkien book discussion I was once in, someone pointed out that suicide is a grievous sin in Catholicism, because it amounts to capitulation to despair. No matter how bad things appear, one should maintain the hope that there is something better ahead -- this is the promise that God made to mankind. To kill yourself is to reject that hope, and therefore to reject God. (I hope I'm reconstructing these views adequately.) So how would that apply to Gethen? There are only hints of God, though, as someone pointed out, tons of references to religion, or perhaps mysticism. But I'm not sure I see where hopelessness or despair come into the Gethenian world view. In fact, theirs seems to be a tremendously intellectual mysticism -- unlearning and ignorance for the Handdarata, "Seeing" everything at once for the Yomeshta.

Or could it be simply because life is so precarious in their environment that it has become a crime to take it? But then murder would presumably be the worse crime, or possibly hunting. Looking forward to hearing other thoughts on this!



Wed Jan 13, 2010 12:07 pm
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Likes the book better than the movie

Gold Contributor

Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 826
Location: Germany
Thanks: 201
Thanked: 179 times in 139 posts
Gender: Female
Country: Germany (de)

Post Re: Suicide-the ultimate taboo.
I'm not certain where to go with an answer to this, but I would like to suggest that, being that Gethenians are both male and female, killing oneself removes the double possibility of reproduction (of literally carrying the child in a pregnancy in the female role or impregnating, in the male role). Voluntarily removing yourself from this cycle implies you are willing to wipe out all your possibilities of increasing the population.


_________________
Gods and spirits are parasitic--Pascal Boyer

Religion is the only force in the world that lets a person have his prejudice or hatred and feel good about it --S C Hitchcock

Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it. --André Gide

Reading is a majority skill but a minority art. --Julian Barnes


Wed Jan 13, 2010 1:29 pm
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Upper Echelon 1st Class

BookTalk.org Moderator
Silver Contributor

Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 2467
Location: New Jersey
Thanks: 502
Thanked: 407 times in 325 posts
Gender: Female
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: Suicide-the ultimate taboo.
It may have something to do with forgiveness. When someone commits suicide, it deprives others from forgiving those persons sins, or misdeeds. Since there is no true deity that the people on Winter worship and pray to for forgiveness and guidance, the people themselves take on the traditional roles of a god, and suicide becomes a sin or crime against the people.

This leads me to another question. When two people vow kemmering, and one of those people dies, or leaves, the one left can never vow kemmering again. This reminds me of marriage in the catholic church, even though you can be divorced legally, the church still sees this marriage as valid until an annulment occurs. It also reminds me of certain animals that mate for life, such as morning doves. Kemmering/marriage vows are for life, but, are these vows similar to a religious belief that marriage is for life, or are the people considered more like animals?



Thu Jan 14, 2010 7:26 am
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Likes the book better than the movie

Gold Contributor

Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 826
Location: Germany
Thanks: 201
Thanked: 179 times in 139 posts
Gender: Female
Country: Germany (de)

Post Re: Suicide-the ultimate taboo.
Very true, Suzanne. I didn't think about the forgiveness issue.
Another thing that has been busying me about this book is the concept of flying......no creature flies on Gethen. Floating, as in snowflakes falling, yes. But no birds, no idea of humans flying.


_________________
Gods and spirits are parasitic--Pascal Boyer

Religion is the only force in the world that lets a person have his prejudice or hatred and feel good about it --S C Hitchcock

Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it. --André Gide

Reading is a majority skill but a minority art. --Julian Barnes


Thu Jan 14, 2010 8:23 am
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Upper Echelon 1st Class

BookTalk.org Moderator
Silver Contributor

Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 2467
Location: New Jersey
Thanks: 502
Thanked: 407 times in 325 posts
Gender: Female
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: Suicide-the ultimate taboo.
oblivion wrote:
no creature flies on Gethen. Floating, as in snowflakes falling, yes. But no birds, no idea of humans flying.


I noticed the lack of birds too, maybe the birds migrated. You bring up an interesting issue, the lack of human flight. The citizens of Gethen have evolved and have mastered their environment, they do not need to leave. This is simular to the robins in my area (NJ, three weeks ago we had 20 inches of snow fall) that when I was little always migrated, they stay year round now, they have assimulated to the enviornment. But you are correct, without an image of a flying creature, humans would never entertain the thought of recreating flight. But you must ask yourself, do the people of Gethen want to leave? Do they want to change? Is change always for the good?

There are also no large animals. They do have small animals, and when Estraven kills one to eat, Ai mentions that he has never seen blood on the hands of the people of Winter, there is little hunting going on. Estraven also seems to be repulsed at the thought of eating meat. These small animals are used for the pelts to keep them warm, not for food. Now that I think about it, I can not recall any food that contains animal meat. Are the people of Winter vegetarians? And if so, are they vegetarians by choice? If this is true, why?

The lack of large animals would suggest to me that the enviornment has changed to the point where these animals have gone extinct. Today, the polar bears are at risk with the melting of the ice caps, global warming or not.

I must admit, whenever I read a first person narration the first thing I must determine is whether or not I believe what that person has to say. (Thank Nobokov for that) Ai talks big about light year travel, but I have asked myself about the character of Ai, and I must say, I don't know if I believe him. Remember, early explorers traveled many months, if not years, to reach land inhabited by people who were guilable. Exployers on Easter Island for example looked like aliens to the inhabitants, and those exployers traveled what may appear as "light years" in regard to difficulty reaching land. If indeed the birds migrated, the planets are not as far away as Ai makes them appear. However, simular to the inhabitants of Easter Island, the citizens of Winter are told that there are other civilizations that are more advanced. This is also simular to missionary work, this is how I view Ai. He is a missionary, convinced that his way of life is better.

Through out time, through out the world, culture, and civilization has been destroyed due to missionaries believing their beliefs were best. Is Ai nothing more than a missionary, believing he is superior? Of course, he falls in love with Estraven and realizes the value of the citizens of Winter.

What I found interesting is that Estraven choose suicide over connecting with the other worlds. In the end, Estraven choose the lifesyle of Gethen instead of flying out with Ai into another world.



Thu Jan 14, 2010 10:03 am
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Likes the book better than the movie

Gold Contributor

Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 826
Location: Germany
Thanks: 201
Thanked: 179 times in 139 posts
Gender: Female
Country: Germany (de)

Post Re: Suicide-the ultimate taboo.
There is some quote in the book (which, of course, I can't find at the moment) stating that there are no winged creatures in Gethen. BTW, how in the world is the growing season long enough to grow so many vegetables, if that is indeed what they are mostly eating (as it appears they are).....breadapple, for instance?
Yes, the narration is difficult. First person narration Ai, first person narration Estreven, creation myths (what era), backflashes, etc. I have the feeling le Guin is trying to present the reader a dimension of neither space nor time using this style in order to support her plot of time travel,-- which time is Ai especially-- in, where are they, are they male or female.....perhaps that is the purpose of Winter, of whiteness, as well. The contours disappear. You have to concentrate on the essence of things, of humans, if you are not certain of time, of where you are (blizzard, etc), of whom you are with (male, female? friend, enemy?).
I like to think that le Guin's style supports the story here. The protagonists are in a world without outline, even poor Ai has no idea really just how long he has been somewhere, whether his family has already died. The narration, the backflashes, the style of narration (inc. journal entries) all serve to move circularly, not linearly.The concept of time has effectively been essentially removed. And so has Place. What world does Ai (I'll just continue using him as an example) really belong to? Only the ansible seems to bridge time and distance, but it does not survive the journey. The whiteness, snow-blindness, fog, etc rub away the outline of Place. What is left of this world is shifgrethor holding it together, of recognizing neither male nor female but human.
Amazing book, this one.


_________________
Gods and spirits are parasitic--Pascal Boyer

Religion is the only force in the world that lets a person have his prejudice or hatred and feel good about it --S C Hitchcock

Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it. --André Gide

Reading is a majority skill but a minority art. --Julian Barnes


Thu Jan 14, 2010 1:16 pm
Profile
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Pop up Book Fanatic


Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 10
Thanks: 0
Thanked: 1 time in 1 post
Gender: Female
Country: Germany (de)

Post Re: Suicide-the ultimate taboo.
Yes it is amazing, isn't it?

I think the author shifts around in narration in order to keep us off balance, a bit like Faulkner. We are constantly having to adjust to a different point of view, assimilate another facet in order to piece together the wholeness -- and this is exactly Ai's situation too.

In the first chapter Ai thinks he has a pretty good idea what is going on. He sees Estraven as sneaky and deceptive, proved by his sudden withdrawal of support. (Truth: Estraven is reacting to Tibe's rise and trying to protect Ai.). He assumes E. is shifty and calculating, moving the pieces around on his mental chessboard. (Truth: E. is trying to express himself without being rude to Ai.) Ai knows a lot about Gethen already; he has read all sorts of cultural reports, myths, fables, he can tell is the history of the Corner Red Dwelling; but he does not understand the basis of all human interaction on Gethen, that to give advice is a tremendous insult. E scrupulously avoids doing so ("I am not trying to tell you anything, Mr. Ai.") out of respect for Ai; Ai interprets it all through his own lens, sees E. as an utterly unscrupulous politician.

This misreading of cultural clues is a central feature of the alienation of the foreigner, isn't it? It's a theme Le Guin visits in many of her early novels -- The Dispossessed, Rocannon's World, Planet of Exile. Perhaps informed by her time in France? At any rate, Ai slowly begins to realize that all his knowledge is still not giving him a complete picture. By the end, he is no longer the alien -- his co-travelers on the ship appear alien to him. And the narrative structure settles down in parallel; the last quarter of the book is only in Ai's voice. He is less disoriented, the reader too.

Regarding Estraven's death: did he really have a choice? If he had stayed in Karhide, Tibe's men would have hunted him down and killed him. In Orogoreyn the situation would have been the same, just uglier. With no papers, as Ai finally realizes, too late, E. would face jail at first, probably a trip to a Farm (which he would not survive in his weakened state), and, when the Commensals discovered him, murder. He had, after all, engineered a massive loss of shifgrethor for them by arranging for the star ship to land in Karhide. So certain death no matter what. I think he chose the quickest path to what was inevitable.

After E's death, the doctor is appalled at Ai's suggestion that Estraven chose his death, and Ai remembers that to Karhiders at least, suicide is not an option, but "the abdication from option", an "act that, sealing despair denies the chance of forgiveness, change, life". It seems odd that someone who moved so elegantly through Gethen societies, was so utterly attuned to the finest hints and shifts, would do something so utterly vile in the eyes of his society. Did he sacrifice himself for Ai's mission? Or did he also become an alien on the ice?



Fri Jan 15, 2010 2:45 am
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Likes the book better than the movie

Gold Contributor

Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 826
Location: Germany
Thanks: 201
Thanked: 179 times in 139 posts
Gender: Female
Country: Germany (de)

Post Re: Suicide-the ultimate taboo.
I tend to think that Estreven's suicide was the ultimate act of love--he "botched" it with his kemmering and now given the second chance with Ai, decided to give all.
As yes, cultural clues certainly aren't always easy to read!


_________________
Gods and spirits are parasitic--Pascal Boyer

Religion is the only force in the world that lets a person have his prejudice or hatred and feel good about it --S C Hitchcock

Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it. --André Gide

Reading is a majority skill but a minority art. --Julian Barnes


Fri Jan 15, 2010 7:47 am
Profile
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 9 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average. 



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:


BookTalk.org Links 
Forum Rules & Tips
Frequently Asked Questions
BBCode Explained
Info for Authors & Publishers
Featured Book Suggestions
Author Interview Transcripts
Be a Book Discussion Leader!
    

Love to talk about books but don't have time for our book discussion forums? For casual book talk join us on Facebook.

Featured Books

Books by New Authors



Booktalk.org on Facebook 



BookTalk.org is a free book discussion group or online reading group or book club. We read and talk about both fiction and non-fiction books as a group. We host live author chats where booktalk members can interact with and interview authors. We give away free books to our members in book giveaway contests. Our booktalks are open to everybody who enjoys talking about books. Our book forums include book reviews, author interviews and book resources for readers and book lovers. Discussing books is our passion. We're a literature forum, or reading forum. Register a free book club account today! Suggest nonfiction and fiction books. Authors and publishers are welcome to advertise their books or ask for an author chat or author interview.


Navigation 
MAIN NAVIGATION

HOMEFORUMSBOOKSTRANSCRIPTSOLD FORUMSADVERTISELINKSFAQDONATETERMS OF USEPRIVACY POLICY

BOOK FORUMS FOR ALL BOOKS WE HAVE DISCUSSED
Oliver Twist - by Charles DickensSense and Goodness Without God - by Richard CarrierFrankenstein - by Mary ShelleyThe Big Questions - by Simon BlackburnScience Was Born of Christianity - by Stacy TrasancosThe Happiness Hypothesis - by Jonathan HaidtA Game of Thrones - by George R. R. MartinTempesta's Dream - by Vincent LoCocoWhy Nations Fail - by Daron Acemoglu and James RobinsonThe Drowning Girl - Caitlin R. KiernanThe Consolations of the Forest - by Sylvain TessonThe Complete Heretic's Guide to Western Religion: The Mormons - by David FitzgeraldA Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man - by James JoyceThe Divine Comedy - by Dante AlighieriThe Magic of Reality - by Richard DawkinsDubliners - by James JoyceMy Name Is Red - by Orhan PamukThe World Until Yesterday - by Jared DiamondThe Man Who Was Thursday - by by G. K. ChestertonThe Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven PinkerLord Jim by Joseph ConradThe Hobbit by J. R. R. TolkienThe Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas AdamsAtlas Shrugged by Ayn RandThinking, Fast and Slow - by Daniel KahnemanThe Righteous Mind - by Jonathan HaidtWorld War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max BrooksMoby Dick: or, the Whale by Herman MelvilleA Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer EganLost Memory of Skin: A Novel by Russell BanksThe Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas S. KuhnHobbes: Leviathan by Thomas HobbesThe House of the Spirits - by Isabel AllendeArguably: Essays by Christopher HitchensThe Falls: A Novel (P.S.) by Joyce Carol OatesChrist in Egypt by D.M. MurdockThe Glass Bead Game: A Novel by Hermann HesseA Devil's Chaplain by Richard DawkinsThe Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph CampbellThe Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor DostoyevskyThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark TwainThe Moral Landscape by Sam HarrisThe Decameron by Giovanni BoccaccioThe Road by Cormac McCarthyThe Grand Design by Stephen HawkingThe Evolution of God by Robert WrightThe Tin Drum by Gunter GrassGood Omens by Neil GaimanPredictably Irrational by Dan ArielyThe Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel by Haruki MurakamiALONE: Orphaned on the Ocean by Richard Logan & Tere Duperrault FassbenderDon Quixote by Miguel De CervantesMusicophilia by Oliver SacksDiary of a Madman and Other Stories by Nikolai GogolThe Passion of the Western Mind by Richard TarnasThe Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le GuinThe Genius of the Beast by Howard BloomAlice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll Empire of Illusion by Chris HedgesThe Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner The Extended Phenotype by Richard DawkinsSmoke and Mirrors by Neil GaimanThe Selfish Gene by Richard DawkinsWhen Good Thinking Goes Bad by Todd C. RinioloHouse of Leaves by Mark Z. DanielewskiAmerican Gods: A Novel by Neil GaimanPrimates and Philosophers by Frans de WaalThe Enormous Room by E.E. CummingsThe Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar WildeGod Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher HitchensThe Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama Paradise Lost by John Milton Bad Money by Kevin PhillipsThe Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson BurnettGodless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists by Dan BarkerThe Things They Carried by Tim O'BrienThe Limits of Power by Andrew BacevichLolita by Vladimir NabokovOrlando by Virginia Woolf On Being Certain by Robert A. Burton50 reasons people give for believing in a god by Guy P. HarrisonWalden: Or, Life in the Woods by Henry David ThoreauExile and the Kingdom by Albert CamusOur Inner Ape by Frans de WaalYour Inner Fish by Neil ShubinNo Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthyThe Age of American Unreason by Susan JacobyTen Theories of Human Nature by Leslie Stevenson & David HabermanHeart of Darkness by Joseph ConradThe Stuff of Thought by Stephen PinkerA Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled HosseiniThe Lucifer Effect by Philip ZimbardoResponsibility and Judgment by Hannah ArendtInterventions by Noam ChomskyGodless in America by George A. RickerReligious Expression and the American Constitution by Franklyn S. HaimanDeep Economy by Phil McKibbenThe God Delusion by Richard DawkinsThe Third Chimpanzee by Jared DiamondThe Woman in the Dunes by Abe KoboEvolution vs. Creationism by Eugenie C. ScottThe Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael PollanI, Claudius by Robert GravesBreaking The Spell by Daniel C. DennettA Peace to End All Peace by David FromkinThe Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey NiffeneggerThe End of Faith by Sam HarrisEnder's Game by Orson Scott CardThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark HaddonValue and Virtue in a Godless Universe by Erik J. WielenbergThe March by E. L DoctorowThe Ethical Brain by Michael GazzanigaFreethinkers: A History of American Secularism by Susan JacobyCollapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared DiamondThe Battle for God by Karen ArmstrongThe Future of Life by Edward O. WilsonWhat is Good? by A. C. GraylingCivilization and Its Enemies by Lee HarrisPale Blue Dot by Carl SaganHow We Believe: Science, Skepticism, and the Search for God by Michael ShermerLooking for Spinoza by Antonio DamasioLies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al FrankenThe Red Queen by Matt RidleyThe Blank Slate by Stephen PinkerUnweaving the Rainbow by Richard DawkinsAtheism: A Reader edited by S.T. JoshiGlobal Brain by Howard BloomThe Lucifer Principle by Howard BloomGuns, Germs and Steel by Jared DiamondThe Demon-Haunted World by Carl SaganBury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee BrownFuture Shock by Alvin Toffler

OTHER PAGES WORTH EXPLORING
Banned Book ListOur Amazon.com SalesMassimo Pigliucci Rationally SpeakingOnline Reading GroupTop 10 Atheism BooksFACTS Book Selections

cron
Copyright © BookTalk.org 2002-2014. All rights reserved.
Website developed by MidnightCoder.ca
Display Pagerank