Monthly Archives: February 2015

Misconceptions About Compulsions

As we discussed Clay’s Ark in class yesterday I kept thinking about similar plots structures. This led me to look up films about viral outbreaks. Most outbreak films such as Contagion often portray people dying of the disease, but in Clay’s Ark it is the opposite. Again we see this similar plot scheme to Fledgling where a group of people gain abilities or enhance themselves by a substance, which one could interpret as either the venom or disease. In both cases each person gains super human abilities, but it comes at a cost and some people do die because of it. However, as I looked as the list of outbreak films a lot of them did not have the same plot as Clay’s Ark. The difference is in Clay’s Ark the disease causes the infected to do immoral actions such as, rape, and incest.

Butler here again is questioning our notions of what makes us human and or what is humanity. I question if when what makes us human is gone do we turn invisible? To further elaborate, in the article “I’m a Black Gentrifier, But My Success Is Invisible” the narrator defines herself as a complex person. She is black, but also a female and a lawyer, but because of her skin color she is categorized differently and sectioned off into an outside sphere, which makes her invisible. In Clay’s Ark the humans section themselves to one place, but in the article people are defined to a certain place. This notion of certain types of people being labeled to live in one place has infected the views of people. The infected notion comes from a view of compulsions or forced actions, which some are really found in the human race. However, some stereotypes are viewed as compulsions, which construe of outlook of a human being. I wonder if this is another trope about race relations that Butler is trying to force us to look at.

Pickens vs. Butler- In my perspective

As I was reading Theri Pickens article “You’re Supposed to Be a Tall, Handsome, Fully Grown White Man” for my annotated bibliography, I found myself stopping a lot to “scratch my head” at what she was saying. As I was reading her article I found myself rethinking some of my opinions about Fledgling, but at the same time I felt the need to defend the way Butler developed her novel.

One example in this article that had me thinking was Pickens ability to call Shori a protagonist (Pickens 34). Yes I would agree that Shori is probably more of a protagonist then most characters BUT I am not sure how one can call her a protagonist when she is constantly manipulating her symbionts. Shori knows she is stronger then most of her symbionts, where she feels like she can control them. Because of Shori’s ability to control them so easily makes it hard for me to believe that she is the protagonist. I feel as if she is taking advantage of a weaker power which is something a protagonist shouldn’t be doing. The idea of this power struggle within Butler’s work relates back to my previous post, referring to the two videos we watched in class and “Mind of My Mind”.

The point in Pickens article where she was talking about Wright wanting to hide his relationship with Shori was the real “thinker” for me. Pickens’ feels that the relationship is hidden because of the idea that interracial relationships where not acceptable during this time (Pickens 43). This very well may have been Butler’s intention, but at the same time I don’t know how Pickens didn’t argue or bring up the fact Shori’s and Wright’s age  (based on physical appearance) is so different. Throughout her entire article she never mentioned this idea as being wrong. Which when I read Fledgling I got more of the feeling that Butler was more focused on age between Shori and Wright and not race.

Like I previously stated Pickens has created some wonderful arguments within her article that made me rethink some of my opinions on Fledgling but I feel like I was “scratching my head” with some of these arguments, not agreeing with her.

Below you will find the link to Pickens article, which Beth has already provided for us:

“You’re Supposed to Be a Tall, Handsome, Fully Grown White Man”

Your own POWER being used against you

Connecting the relevance of the two videos we watched in class yesterday  to “Mind of My Mind” brought up interesting points during our groups discussion.   One idea that I brought up during our discussion is the idea of power control within “Mind of My Mind” and the videos. In “Mind of MY Mind” I see Doro as the controller pretty much throughout the entire novel despite the fact he dies at the end. Untimely at the end of the novel Doro has absolutely no more control because of his death. I personally feel the same goes for the “Tech People” in these videos from class. They are clearly more powerful because they are taking over parts of the neighborhood due to their technology and greater amounts of money. They feel they control the people in the neighborhood because they have this stuff they may not, which very well maybe true. But what I find ironic is the fact the “techs” won’t back down until their own technology is used against them. As soon as the kids who have always lived in the neighborhood start recording the “techs” they easily back down from the situation. So the kids are are using the “techs” own “power” against them. I feel that the idea of power is a repetitive theme throughout Butler’s novels. There is always someone of a higher power taking advantage of someone of a lower power, until their own power is used against them. Who’s sorry then?

I Spoke Too Soon: Education in the Patternist Society

In my blog post last week I wrote that although Octavia Butler didn’t specifically write about education, her commentary on innocence in Wild Seed is important because of the way perceived innocence manifests in public education. Little did I know that by the end of Mind of My Mind, Mary would create a society of Patternists and top off her reorganization of Palo Verde with her own school for latent children. Although the Patternist school may seem more like Charles Xavier’s school for gifted youngsters—with Rachel searching the pattern for Latents in the same way that Professor X uses cerebro to find mutants—a myriad of connections can be made between the Patternist school and American schools.  Not only do the fictional Palo Verde school and actual American schools both operate as a tool for measuring ability (albeit in their own distinctive ways), but they also function as a venue for the stigmatization and discrimination of status groups and as a medium for the reproduction of cultural inequalities. Continue reading I Spoke Too Soon: Education in the Patternist Society

Mary & the Gentrifying Patternists

Our group discussion on urbanization and the phenomenon of gentrification has had me thinking about how communities, especially urban communities, are maintained through a series of inclusions and exclusions that manifest in space. In Octavia Butler’s Mind of My Mind, the ways in which Mary and the Patternists (not the band) build Forsyth as a site for their growth as a community involve the attraction of “actives” and the recruitment of “latents” towards Forsyth. As they grow they infiltrate pre-existing homes, schools, as well as other types of facilities in the community, which always entails an implicit corollary “eviction” or forced removal of the non-telepathic “mutes” who had previously inhabited these spaces. As Mary’s desired utopia grows, the marginal bodies that cannot coexist as equal members of the community, due to their lack of “abilities,” are displaced.

Continue reading Mary & the Gentrifying Patternists

Relative Linguistics: Our Language as a Cultural Lens

What happens when people try to imagine new ways of being? This is something Butler’s fiction asks us when we are reading, as we try to put ourselves in the world of her characters. She also poses this to her characters – for instance, Doro not fully being able to imagine the effects of the pattern until he experiences it himself. In class we spoke about imagining the pattern, and how it was outside of what we could imagine because we ourselves had never experienced it, like Doro. I wanted to take a look at the sociology behind the language aspect of this inability, namely, the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis.

Continue reading Relative Linguistics: Our Language as a Cultural Lens

The 154: My Emotional Reaction to “Mind of My Mind”

During class last Friday, we talked about our emotional reactions to the end of Mind of My Mind. Admist the trauma of Doro’s and Emma’s death, as well as Mary’s victory, I found myself mourning for the 154 Patternists lost during the concluding battle. It seemed to be something akin to genocide, the senseless killings of civilians who are usually the innocent consequences of war. In World War Two alone, the ratio of civilian deaths to solider deaths was 2:1 (I know we weren’t supposed to place outside sources in this blog post, but I just wanted to build some perspective). These civilians were usually just like us; ordinary people with no strong political or military affiliations. Most may be even against the war that they are involved in, or at least somewhat ignorant of it. In the same way these Patternists were ignorant of the war that was going on around them (and that they were involved in). According to the book, most of the more recent Patternists didn’t even know what Doro looked like, or anything beyond his place as the “creator of the creator” of the Pattern. They wouldn’t be able to understand the risk that they were taking when they were roped into Mary’s strength taking.

Continue reading The 154: My Emotional Reaction to “Mind of My Mind”

Doro’s Whiteness

Kayla V. made a really great post about Doro’s relationship to the seed people and its similarities to what whiteness is to black people, as Rajanie Kumar discusses in the article “White Terror: Spirituality, Ancestral Memory, and the Politics of Remembering” on The Feminist Wire. After reading both the post and the article, I started thinking about the bodies Doro chose at different times, and what the significance of those choices were.

Continue reading Doro’s Whiteness

Trauma and Formation of Self

For the past three years I have been employed by an organization key to special education in my region. This has placed me as a substitute in a variety of classrooms and social environments, and the one thing that I’ve noticed among all of these positions is that the human mind has an incredibly ability to cope in the face of trauma. Continue reading Trauma and Formation of Self

My Reaction to the Character Doro

Doro is dead.

Doro is actually dead.

After four thousand years of living by taking others’ bodies and trying to build an empire, Doro finally met his match. He always thought that he would never die, that nobody could ever be more powerful than him. I believed this myself. As I read that Mary was going to stand up against him, I had no hope that she would survive his attack. And after reading two books about him and his plans, I found that when he actually failed, I was partially relieved.

Continue reading My Reaction to the Character Doro