What the Brain Does By Itself Is Infinitely More Fascinating and Complex Than Any Response It Can Make To Chemical Stimulation

Ursula K. Le Guin? Elaine Partnow? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: People have employed psychoactive substances for centuries to pursue alertness, pleasure, insights, thrills, and sundry goals. Yet, a famous speculative fiction author asserted that the brain by itself could achieve infinitely fascinating responses without chemical intervention. Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: The prize-winning science fiction author Ursula K. Le Guin serialized the innovative novel “The Lathe of Heaven” in “Amazing Science Fiction Stories” in 1971. 1 The main character George Orr was able to cause major alterations in reality while dreaming.

Orr participated in mandatory therapy sessions with a sleep researcher who wished to construct a utopian world using Orr’s remarkable powers. The researcher was pleased to discover that Orr was responsive without the use of drugs. The sleep sessions employed a biofeedback-like device called an Augmentor. The researcher spoke the quotation. Boldface added t excerpts by QI: 2

“I’d rather work without drugs. What the brain does by itself is infinitely more fascinating and complex than any response it can make to chemical stimulation; that’s why I developed the Augmentor, to provide the brain a means of self-stimulation. The creative and therapeutic resources of the brain — whether waking or sleeping or dreaming — are practically infinite. If we can just find the keys to all the locks. The power of dreaming alone is quite undreamt of!”

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

The quotation appeared in the 1977 reference “The Quotable Woman: 1800-1975” compiled by Elaine Partnow: 3

Ursula K. Le Guin
“What the brain does by itself is infinitely more fascinating and complex than any response it can make to chemical stimulation. . . .”
The Lathe of Heaven, Ch. 3, 1971

The quotation also appeared in “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Great Quotes for All Occasions” in 2008. 4

In conclusion, Ursula K. Le Guin deserves credit for this quotation which appeared in her 1971 novel.

Image Notes: Public domain illustration of the brain / mind from ElisaRiva at Pixabay. Image has been resized.

Notes:

  1. 1971 March, Amazing Science Fiction Stories, Volume 44, Number 6, The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin, (Part 1 of 2), Start Page 6, Quote Page 25, Column 1, Ultimate Publishing Company, Flushing, New York. (Verified with scans)
  2. 1973 (1971 Copyright), The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin, Chapter 3, Quote Page 34, Avon Books: A Division of The Hearst Corporation, New York. (Verified with scans)
  3. 1977, The Quotable Woman: 1800-1975, Compiled and edited by Elaine Partnow, Entry: Ursula K. Le Guin, Quote Page 397, Corwin Books, Los Angeles, California. (Verified with scans)
  4. 2008, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Great Quotes for All Occasions by Elaine Bernstein Partnow, Chapter 5: School Daze, Quote Page 38, Published by Alpha Books: Penguin Group, New York. (Verified with scans)