Category Archives: Parables

Parable of the Sower, Parable of the Talents

“The repressive effects of empathy”

Saidiya Hartman’s discussion of empathy in “Innocent Amusements,” from her book Scenes of Subjection provides a really interesting lens through which to examine Lauren’s hyperempathy. Hartman studies the letters of an abolitionist named Rankin who endeavored to, “reenact […] The grotesqueries enumerated in documenting the injustice of slavery and intended to shock and to disrupt the comfortable remove of the reader/spectator,” in order to, “rouse the sensibility of those indifferent to slavery” (Hartman, 17, 18). Hartman cites Rankin’s explanation for the rhetorical moves that he makes: “We are naturally too callous to the sufferings of others, and consequently prone to look upon them with cold indifference, until, in imagination we identify ourselves with the sufferers” (Hartman, 18). Rankin’s theory is predicted on the idea that, “pain provides the common language of humanity; it extends humanity to the dispossessed and, in turn, remedies the indifference of the callous” (Hartman, 18). The really interesting move that Rankin makes is to, “literally narrat[e] an imagined scenario in which he, along with his wife and child, is enslaved” (Hartman, 18). Continue reading “The repressive effects of empathy”

“Self-Reliance” and Parable of the Talents

You all know how I feel about Lauren’s quest to start a new religion and gain followers. But, I am not so stubborn as to overlook and appreciate the philosophical intellect she offers. This particular segment stands out to me:

“I don’t know how to do it. That scares me to death sometimes – always feeling driven to do something I don’t know how to do. But I’m learning as I go along. And I’ve learned that I have to be careful how I talk about all this, even to Acorn. Bankole isn’t the only one of us who doesn’t see the possibility of doing anything he hasn’t seen done by others.”

Right away I connected this idea to one presented in an essay by the brilliant Ralph Waldo Emerson. In the first paragraph, he states: Continue reading “Self-Reliance” and Parable of the Talents

Two “Ways:” Olamina’s Books of the Living Compared with the Daodejing

While reading Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents, I could not help but note the similarities between Lauren Olamina’s ideas and those of Laotzu, the mythic author of the Daodejing (the foundational text for Daoism, translated approximately as “The Classic of Dao (The Way) and De (Virtue)”). The two texts bear striking resemblances in their “historical” roots, style, and philosophical underpinnings.
Continue reading Two “Ways:” Olamina’s Books of the Living Compared with the Daodejing

Technologies that Limit Access

I remember reading an article not too long ago that celebrated one young man’s new vision for firearms with finger-printing technology–an innovation that at first glance seemed too good to be true. And I have to admit, I thought the idea was great. Second amendment debates typically boil down to how we ensure that the “wrong people” don’t get ahold of firearms. So a technology that limits access to a weapon seems pretty sensible–that is until you read Butler’s Parable of the Talents. Continue reading Technologies that Limit Access

Connection Between Lauren Olamina and MSNBC

Upon turning on the TV tonight, I came across the live news coverage of the current situation in Baltimore, MD. As I’m sure many of you know, there have been riots and protests there following the unjust death of Freddie Gray which was a result of brutal police actions. On the news, one of the captions on the bottom of the screen read: ” ‘Criminals’ started fire outside of library.”  Continue reading Connection Between Lauren Olamina and MSNBC

The Parable of Baltimore

The recent news of riots turned chaos in Baltimore have an eerie similarity to the speculative future that Octavia Butler writes about in her Parable series–a future where humans lose regard and respect for one another and revert to destructive means of fulfilling desires and surviving. Granted, the Baltimore riots haven’t taken over the country and created an apocalyptic reversion to naturalistic life, the insight with which Butler foretells the cultivation of primal conflicts is uncanny.  Just as John states in his recent blog, Octavia “has a knack for giving us some bleak futures to look forward to,” but I think that these speculatively bleak futures are imperative to explore as humanity attempts to avoid catastrophe. Continue reading The Parable of Baltimore