“don’t take me for granite”

December 23, 2018

For many, many years I have been reading (=devouring, I mean) Ursula Kroeber Le Guin’s thoughts, scribbled notes and books.

She is a phenomenally creative person that walked the earth, period; her words have spoken to me, in ways that I cannot possibly articulate & describe in detail. My inadequacy.

But, over the years, my children (both biological and otherwise) and I have had countless hours of learning, reading and rereading her.

Pure exhilaration, what else!

The following is an excerpt from this fine book by Ursula that (also) appeals to me.


Don’t take me for granite

Sometimes I am taken for granite. Everybody is taken for granite sometimes but I am not in a mood for being fair to everybody. I am in a mood for being fair to me. I am taken for granite quite often, and this troubles and distresses me, because I am not granite. I am not sure what I am but I know it isn’t granite. I have known some granite types, we all do: characters of stone, upright, immovable, unchangeable, opinions the general size shape and pliability of the Rocky Mountains, you have to quarry five years to chip out one little stony smile. That’s fine, that’s admirable, but it has nothing to do with me. Upright is fine, but downright is where I am, or downwrong.

I am not granite and should not be taken for it. I am not flint or diamond or any of that great hard stuff. If I am stone, I am some kind of shoddy crumbly stuff like sandstone or serpentine, or maybe schist. Or not even stone but clay, or not even clay but mud. And I wish that those who take me for granite would once in a while treat me like mud.

Being mud is really different from being granite and should be treated differently. Mud lies around being wet and heavy and oozy and generative. Mud is underfoot. People make footprints in mud. As mud I accept feet. I accept weight. I try to be supportive, I like to be obliging. Those who take me for granite say this is not so but they haven’t been looking where they put their feet. That’s why the house is all dirty and tracked up.

Granite does not accept footprints. It refuses them. Granite makes pinnacles, and then people rope themselves together and put pins on their shoes and climb the pinnacles at great trouble, expense, and risk, and maybe they experience a great thrill, but the granite does not. Nothing whatever results and nothing whatever is changed.

Huge heavy things come and stand on granite and the granite just stays there and doesn’t react and doesn’t give way and doesn’t adapt and doesn’t oblige and when the huge heavy things walk away the granite is there just the same as it was before, just exactly the same, admirably. To change granite you have to blow it up.

But when people walk on me you can see exactly where they put their feet, and when huge heavy things come and stand on me I yield and react and respond and give way and adapt and accept. No explosives are called for. No admiration is called for. I have my own nature and am true to it just as much as granite or even diamond is, but it is not a hard nature, or upstanding, or gemlike. You can’t chip it. It’s deeply impressionable. It’s squashy.

Maybe the people who rope themselves together and the huge heavy things resent such adaptable and uncertain footing because it makes them feel insecure. Maybe they fear they might be sucked in and swallowed. But I am not interested in sucking and am not hungry. I am just mud. I yield. I do try to oblige. And so when the people and the huge heavy things walk away they are not changed, except their feet are muddy, but I am changed. I am still here and still mud, but all full of footprints and deep, deep holes and tracks and traces and changes. I have been changed. You change me. Do not take me for granite.


Actually, I am more of a Granite (which does not care about mud slinging but bothers about muddled thoughts), though, through the process of weathering over the years, thanks to very many delightfully positive and some sombre negative experiences – am also slowly and steadily getting abraded and becoming part of the topsoil and plan to eventually return to the elements that constitute me as of now, to their rightful place on Earth.

And then, may be, I would become mud too.

Having said that, of course one can write such a lyrical prose extolling the virtues of Granite too; via our own Indic traditions of celebrating the idea of Granite and the ideas that are possible because of Granite. But that should wait for some other time.


Farewell, Ursula.

(1929 -> 2018 -> Forever…)

And, here’s hoping that – at least in the next 50 years, we Tamils would able able to produce real fiction – science and otherwise that would rival the outpourings of the likes of Ursula.

Oh the hope.


4 Responses to ““don’t take me for granite””

  1. SB Says:

    Thank you.

    Kahil Gibran’s

    quote –
    They say to me in their awakening, “You and the world you live in are but a grain of sand upon the infinite shore of an infinite sea.”
    And in my dream I say to them, “I am the infinite sea, and all worlds are but grains of sand upon my shore.”

    Monk/Butter-fly dream-conundrum!
    These well-versed authors know of their limitation of knowing as it is endless and thus became (self-deprecatingly )humble.
    So are you !

    Well, to ease the situation, did you see the so-called debate b’ween Mr.Kamal and Mrs.Smriti Irani in Republic.
    Mr.Kamal missed to bring aboard a word’ equipoise’ in his dialogue (as was his wont).

    Like you were jesting about Mr.Prakash Raj’s ‘ Kuch Bee’ (with eye-popping often), we do expect one from your end on this mirthful saga.

    With respectful regards

    • Sir, SB.

      I did see that ‘debate’ after prodding by a ‘pal.’

      I was not disappointed because, I have always known that – Kamal does NOT do his homework for ANYTHING.

      Instead, he tries to wing things his way, purely because of his ‘charisma.’ No one has a right to be splendidly ignorant, but for Kamal, it is his fundamental right!

      No wonder, he was shredded by a much better, prepared and alert Smriti, in spite of a few brave attempts by Arnab Goswami to rehab Kamal.

      Kamal is and will be a disaster – but hope he does not lose all his money yet again in this political nonsense. (if he does, he will once again make a comeback to the fillum world to make good the losses – and will haunt us again! And where will we then escape to?)

      Oh what fun.

  2. Vijaya Says:

    the process of you becoming mud from granite is called getting wisdom and becoming wise.

மேற்கண்ட பதிவு (அல்லது பின்னூட்டங்கள்) குறித்து (விருப்பமிருந்தால்) உரையாடலாமே...

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