The Frontier: The Cost of a One Sided View of History.


Frontier has two sides. It is an interface, a threshold, a liminal site, with all the danger and promise of liminality.

                The front side, the yang side, the side that calls itself the frontier, that’s where you boldly go where no one has gone before, rushing forward like a stormfront, like a battlefront. Nothing before you is real. It is empty space. My favorite quotation from the great frontiersman Julius Caesar: “I was not certain that Britannia existed, until I went there.” It does not exist, it is empty, and therefore full of dream and promise, the seven shining cities. And so you go there. Seeking gold, seeking land, annexing all before you, you expand your world.

                The other side of the frontier, the yin side: that’s where you live. You have always lived there. It’s all around you, it’s always been. It is the real world, the true and certain world full of reality.

                And it is where they come. You were not certain they existed, until they came.

                Coming from another world, they take yours from you, changing it, draining it, shrinking it into property, a commodity. And as your world is meaningless to them until they change it into theirs, so as you live among them and adopt their meanings, you are in danger of losing your own meaning to yourself.

                                                  *                  *                    *


Living in a world that is valued only as gain, an ever-expanding world-as-frontier that has no worth of its own, no fullness of its own, you live in danger of losing your own worth for yourself. That’s when you begin to listen to the voices from the other side, and to ask questions of failure and the dark.


Ursula K Le Guin, From “On the Frontier”,  found in A Wave in the Mind

This entry was posted in All part of the process, anthropology, banality of evil, Being Human, Books, change, delusions of progress, developing relationships, discovery and recovery, mindworks, Other peoples words, philosophy, thinking in words and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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