Monthly Archives: April 2015

Human Nature Never Changes

At first when I was reading Dawn, I was appalled at how Butler made a lot of the characters who were Awakened by Lilith try to attack her and each other. Although it was conflict for the story, I would like to have some faith in humanity; that maybe one day people can try to get along and stick together. After thinking about it for a while, I realized that Butler is making a point that human nature never changes. Humans may always mistrust each other and work to protect themselves. It may only change if humans begin to breed with other species, like how humans in Lilith’s Brood mate with the Oankali. As long as we are completely human, much of our intentions will be the same, no matter how much times change. So, even though the humans found themselves in the future, on a ship, and interacting with aliens, they still acted just a brutally as humans today would, or humans several thousand years ago. Continue reading Human Nature Never Changes

Disability and Growth – Living

A few weeks ago, Dr. McCoy presented us with the question “Why live?” My answer was “to search for one’s purpose and fulfill it.” I said some more about it as well which I have written below:

I think one must live to better humanity. Everyone is part of something greater than themselves and must promote the betterment of each other in order to fulfill that greater purpose.

     In the moment of writing, I began to think a bit differently: Continue reading Disability and Growth – Living

Names and Identity

What’s in a name? One of the interesting things I thought about the Oankalis and the ooloi are their names. In chapter one in Metamorphosis after Jodahs escorted the couple to the guest area before the arrival of a ship to Mars, It explained to the woman that Its human name was “Jodahs Iyapo Leal Kaalnikanjlo” (526). The complexity of Its name and the many other names like it throughout the novel caused me to recall a video I watched a few months ago by Michael Stevens on one of his Youtube channel called Vsauce, titled: Names. There is so much in a name and the names Octavia Butler has given to her characters have been assigned intricately and fascinatingly that to even pronounce them the right way causes hesitation to even pronounce them at all. Continue reading Names and Identity

Consent, Compromise, and Libidinal Drives

While reading some posts from the beginning of the semester I found Hannah’s post, “Issues of Consent and Pedophilia in Fledgling.” I think Hannah’s post is important to revisit at this time, partly because we will be returning to Fledgling at the end of the semester, but also because of how many “issues with consent” are in the Xenogenesis novels. With regard to these issues of consent, I’m especially interested in Butler’s use of libido as a “drive” that  constantly affects people and their decisions, and how we as readers make sense of libidinal drives in Butler’s work.  With this said, many of the consensual conflicts in Butler’s fiction are not issues of sexual consent. In this post, I want to examine Butler’s discourse of consent—both sexual consent and other issues of consent—within the context of Clay’s Ark, and then move to Xenogenesis to discuss similar issues, ultimately to examine our shortcomings as both readers and humans when discussing consent and the right-to-live in the new Oankali universe.

Continue reading Consent, Compromise, and Libidinal Drives

Planetary Destruction

There is so much to say by the end of the Xenogenesis trilogy and I have to hand it to Octavia Butler once again. Thanks for giving me the curve ball just as you did in the Patternist Series. But I was not displeased at all with the end because it ended on a smooth term. Although it ended on such a term, which I am contented with, I still wondered about the complete destruction of the Earth. Continue reading Planetary Destruction

Gender Identity in Lilith’s Brood

Last week I attended the talk given on the incarceration and criminalization of LGBT communities and there were several parallels I was able to draw between the topics discussed and Lilith’s Brood, which I was in the process of reading, especially in regards to gender identity. For example, one topic that was brought up in the presentation is that the New York State Department of Correctional Services places inmates in correctional facilities based Continue reading Gender Identity in Lilith’s Brood

Akin as a Construct

While watching Trevor Noah’s standup special, “African American,” in an effort to learn about the new Daily Show host, I was struck by the similarities between one of his stories and one of Akin’s lines and started to think about the ways that I felt Akin was limited by both Human and Oankali expectation of him as a Human-Oankali construct. Continue reading Akin as a Construct

Cancer cells as the future

Henrietta Lacks is especially known due to the use of her cells being the foundation for various cures. The scientists who used her cells, without her permission, is similar to the Oankali’s ooloi need to save those with incurable diseases. Nikanj notes “humans called the condition cancer. To them, it was hated disease. To the Oankali, it was a treasure. It was beauty beyond Human comprehension” (551). The ooloi, like scientists, use cancerous cells to explore genetics for trade. They feel as if the exploration is for the good of humanity. Not only does it eradicate cancer, similar to the scientists with Henrietta Lacks cells cured polio, it advances the Oankali.  Continue reading Cancer cells as the future

Lilith’s Brood, Doctor Who, and Humanity

When reading Dawn, I was both disturbed and fascinated by a conversation Lilith had with Jdahya on page 16:

“…it has been several million years since we dared to interfere in another people’s act of self-destruction. Many of us disputed the wisdom of doing it this time. We thought… that there had been a consensus among you, that you had agreed to die.”

“No species would do that!”

“Yes. Some have. And a few of those who have have taken whole ships of our people with them. We’ve learned. Mass suicide is one of the few things we usually let alone.”

I was with Lilith at first, in complete disagreement that any species would ever come to a self-driven extinction. After all, how could any species survive that didn’t have a strong self-preservation instinct? Evolution would have weeded out any species whose first priority wasn’t to keep itself alive.

So I was left with a few questions: Is it possible in our universe (outside of Butler’s fiction) for any species to commit a mass suicide? Is it possible for humanity to do this? What would ever drive us to intentional extinction? And why does the idea of it bother me so much? Continue reading Lilith’s Brood, Doctor Who, and Humanity

Real World Contemplations of Consent in Amnesty

While reading Butler’s short story Amnesty I kept seeing conflicts with experimenting on the human body and consent. Noah the protagonist of the story is kidnapped and experimented by aliens. Noah discusses the waves of experiments by aliens in which she states, “They killed some of us with experiments and dietary deficiency diseases and they poisoned others. By the time they (aliens) snatched me, they at least knew enough not to kill me by accident” (Butler, 602). As I read further I kept reading about the aliens’ malpractices on the humans. However, the aliens are not they only ones who wronged humans. The government has also caused conflict because they would torture, kill and imprison humans. Furthermore, the government has given children new identities to hide them from groups that want to harm, and or worship them.
As I finished the short story I saw that the publisher is John Hopkins University Press, which made me think of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which I am reading for my Intd 301 class. The book discusses how Lacks’ cells were taken without her known consent by head researcher George Gey and John Hopkins Hospital. The HeLa cells were the first human cells to be able to reproduce, and be tested frequently. John Hopkins made a revolutionary discovery in science, and made a lot of profit from Lacks’ cells. Yet, some of the Lacks family members still lack health care, and have not received reparations for the usage of Henrietta’s cells. Nonetheless, John Hopkins is still notorious for their malpractices, which is seen in the Lacks’ case, and in another case in Guatemala where hundreds of people were injected with STDs. We also have seen similar experiments in Tuskegee, which lasted until 1972. The short story Amnesty made me think of historically controversial consent experiments. Moreover, Amnesty overall made put the concept of consent in self-perspective, which I think Butler does well in Amnesty.

Here are the links to a radio telling of HeLa cells and STD experiment in Guatemala.