Left Hand of Darkness chapter 4


Here we get a real mad king! Again we are in the realm of anthropology. This is the recording of a story of a folktale. This is a short chapter on the nature of prediction – or augery. Here there is an augery or soothsaying practice called Foretelling. the main foreteller is called Weaver, and this reminds us of the many cultures who compare fate with weaving.

I enjoy practicing various divination methods and my weakness is knowing what kind of question to ask. In this story the problem is the same. The question that the seeker asks is perhaps vague enough that the response is inadequate.

We wonder does fate or destiny proceed in one line- do we have choice. This is a beautiful story – reminiscent of Oedipus Rex. The king asks a question and then tries to prevent the answer or anticipate the answer. Other people intervene and the story spirals or fate spirals to its conclusion of death and madness.

Days have names. Numbers are qualitative. The day the king will die is the 19th day, and this specificity combined with the vagueries of when causes him to become immobile. His kemmerer (lover I suppose), is distraught and tries to help him – offering the foretellers his life in exchange. His life he gives almost immediately after telling the king his story and then shortly there after the king dies on the aforementioned day.

The lover has no money, nothing to pay for his fortune. He must pay with his life – as the foreteller says there is always a price. Why is this? It is not an ethical question – perhaps it is just the nature of the universe that all things exist in equilibrium with mutual exchange and mutual reciprocity. And that us with our judicial systems try to mimic these laws of nature, but nature does not need us perhaps.

The day of death is foretold as the 19th – June 19th is called juneteenth.

Some questions that are alive in me.

What do numbers mean beyond counting?

What are the knots in destiny that move us forward?

Do we have choice?

What is involved in telling the future?

Why does fortune telling involve a price?

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