More Thoughts On Friday’s Discussion

Thinking a bit more about the discussion we had in class regarding how people are brought and kept together, especially when we account for  power dynamics, I had one other idea I wanted to add to the mix which has to do with the use of language. Maybe others had similar ideas, or ideas to build off of this one?

I want to lay out a few of the strands I am picking up from the discussion before I actually get into the idea I was considering. I’m hoping that if I proceed this way I can make it clear to readers where my thoughts are coming from.

Once our class discussion became based around how power plays into our notion of relationships between individuals and social groups, I began thinking more about how issues such as proximity, historical context, etc. create what I would call ‘pre-determined’ togetherness. Our (by this I mean people, generally) inability to escape certain geographies and social contexts might function as a way in which relationships are pre-determined, or if pre-determined seems too strong a word, in which our choices as to who we are connected to become narrowly limited. With these ideas in mind, I really got thinking when Dr. McCoy gave an example of child stars who desire to no longer be a part of their families for reasons such as control or monetary loss. Whatever the reasons are, we discussed in class how children in this position cannot make the choice to separate from their families, legally, because they are not of a certain age – they do not fit the designation, provided by law, that distinguishes them as capable decision-makers.

What struck me about this point was that a child’s ability – I’m moving here from child stars specifically to the broader category of children – to make autonomous, legally recognized, decisions is not only pre-determined, but constructed linguistically by those (in this case lawmakers I suppose) who define or categorize who is, or is not, capable of making autonomous decisions. I am not necessarily trying to make a case that children should be allowed to make lots of difficult, often overwhelming decisions. But rather, in the context of our discussion on how power plays a role in creating/maintaining/breaking social groups, I am trying to point out through this example that the determination of who can or cannot make autonomous decisions is built largely through language. To move beyond this example  and make a more concrete point, perhaps one large factor in examining how power plays a role in all kinds of relationships – in what brings people together and in what keeps them together –  hinges on the use of language, which constructs permissions and ‘rules’ by which we navigate both legal and social contexts. As a result, how language affects the ability to navigate these contexts seems to me like an important factor to consider in examining what brings people together and what keeps people together.

Liam C.

One thought on “More Thoughts On Friday’s Discussion

  1. Liam, I also thought about the idea of “power dynamics” and its role in people coming together and staying together. Proximity was also something I thought was important to this topic. As in my post I recently posted “Defying Magnets,” the young woman I met happened to be on my track team and over the course of a month, building rapport with her, she became more interesting to me. I admit, after Wednesday’s discussion, I realize the power of pheromones, another factor that plays a major role in keeping people together. I recognized the scent of the young woman anywhere and I felt at times, she had this power over me. I used to laugh in my state of confusion wondering why.

    Also, in Octavia Butler’s fledgling, Renee has a great deal of power over Wright and as much as we have observe thus far, the same power of pheromones can be observed. As we’ve seen, Renee finds her brother’s symbionts’ scents immensely unappetizing, while Wright is on the opposite end of the spectrum of desire.

    Considering power and proximity, Wright happened to be passing in the area where Renee was and once she was in the car, he had the power because his scent drew her closer to him. He had the power to bring her to the police station or the hospital. But in that moment of physical contact wherein she bit him, the scale tipped in her favor and she became the more powerful of the two. Let me divert for a bit – in this current moment, I wonder, and we are not vampires so we can’t bite, but as humans, is it at that moment of physical contact that we decide that a person’s scent is the force of attraction? Is it at that moment in physical intimacy, and I quote Dr. McCoy “bodies clashing together,” which I believe she meant “sexual activity,” wherein perspiration, sweatiness, etc., occurs, that two beings fall for each other as a result of their scent? I wonder.

    And I return to when the scale tips in Shori’s favor. Shori had the power of control through her venom. Evidently, she is now able to leave Wright whenever she wants, but she doesn’t want to. Whereas Wright does want to leave as well, but he isn’t able to because of possession. He needs her, whereas, she more so wants him than needs him. He is possessed by her venom. Interestingly, both have a particular kind of power over each other. But I must also say, for both, survival is at stake.

    Consider taking a look at Esther Perel’s video on “The Secret to Long Term Desire.” She makes a distinction between ‘need’ and ‘want.’

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