Winnie-the-Kodiak (madam_silvertip) wrote in save_earthsea,

The Earthsea Names Project

This is the prospectus of what I would like to do.

The tentative name for the project is the Earthsea Names Project. As everyone who has read the books will know, magic on Earthsea is carried out through the power of names. Each animal, plant, thing and person has its own magic name, which a wizard must learn in order to enter its particular power. Thus magic is a constant dialogue with the existing balance of nature, not a hierarchical power-over. Evil magicians are those who misuse their naming power for hierarchical ends.

What misguided magicians do in Earthsea resembles what SciFi did to the Earthsea books--taking over something that is good in itself and harnessing it for greedy ends. The word Earthsea, for those who know it only by the series, will not have the connotations that Le Guin intended. Le Guin has been vocal about the loss of her interpretation of magic, based on the Taoist and Native American traditions, in favor of what she calls "McMagic," magic as special effects and brute force. It's likely that this is so because it is easier to make a fantasy epic in this tradition than one where the understanding of magic requires understanding of an entirely different cultural orientation. Another, more sinister possibility is that the exclusion of Le Guin's nonwhite influences, especially the Native American, was integral to what the producers saw as a commercial project. The culturally tone-deaf quality of the adaptation has its most obvious side in the "whitewashing" of the cast.

So the Earthsea Naming Project is designed for re-education as to what Earthsea is about. I'm proposing to set aside a certain amount of money (the exact amount is TBD, also confidential) as my own charitable donation to be divided between five organizations in the true spirit of Earthsea, at the end of this project. They are:

Fund for International Environmental Law and Development (
Not in Our Town (
Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (formerly Stop Commercial Exploitation of Children) (
PEN Open Book Program (
A women's studies department with a substantial track record in promoting antiracist coalitions; TBA at the end of the project.

Now, here is where you come in. I am not asking for ANY DONATIONS. Earthsea does not ask for or handle money. (If you wish to make a charitable donation to any of the first four charities in the name of Earthsea, you may also do so, but the donation is not to be sent to Earthsea. Please await details on how to make a charitable donation to aid Earthsea.)

Instead, what you do is to send me your name, your choice of charity or charities among the five, and preferably your location (though that is optional if you prefer not to). That's all you have to do (again, more is optional, as will be explained in a minute). Your name is then designated for a percentage of the lump sum awaiting five-way distribution. The amount of the percentage per name is TBD depending on the volume of the response; obviously, if 70 people respond, I can assign a larger percentage to each than if 700 respond. If a charity "fills up," remaining signatures will be designated for the remaining four, etc.

The project ends when enough names have been gathered to account for a reasonable number of names designated for each charity. (Again, what is "reasonable" depends on variables such as the number of names received, the amount of time it takes, etc.) This is what happens next:

I will compile five lists of the names, write each charity a brief letter explaining the project, and send in the donations. Thus five organizations very much in keeping with Le Guin's ethos and that of her books will receive support "from" Earthsea and become aware of what it really is. (FIELD, for instance, is devoted to saving small island nations from inundation by global warming.) I will also send copies of the lists to the SciFi channel together with any comments you wish to make to the channel and another brief letter explaining the project.

Rather than use an electronic device to generate petitions, I would like to hear from each person individually, at an email address especially set up for Earthsea: This also prevents spambots from picking up your name. As explained, all you need to do is send the name, the charity, and preferably your location (i.e. "Ursula Le Guin, Oregon" or "Ursula Le Guin, Portland, OR" or "Ursula Le Guin, USA"). You are more than encouraged to add as short or long a message as you wish about why you are doing this, Earthsea the books, your background, etc. If you do this, please tell me if I have your permission to give a copy of the email either to your designated charity or to the SciFi channel, or both. If you would rather your name be withheld, let me know, but in that case I need a location. Pseudonyms and Internet handles aren't within the scope of the project. The names will not be given to anyone else. In giving the list to the charities, I will emphasize that these names did not contribute money and are not donors. Instead, they Named the contribution and made magic.

I welcome your comments and feedback. Anyone who wishes to send their name can do so now. Name contributions are not restricted to LJ members.
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