As “I awoke to darkness,” we– meaning, the unnamed character narrator and us, the readers, are both put in an identical situation (1). Custom and social tradition forgotten, Butler lays us in a destroyed world where “I was hungry– starving!– and I was in pain. There was nothing in my world but hunger and pain, no other people, no other time, no other feelings,” (1). Though Shori is not human, her hungers and abilities seem to exaggerate human qualities and needs– Butler “reduces to the absurd” human hungers in order to draw attention to details too small or unremembered that do, in fact, have enormous consequences.
Having read and been inspired by Hanna Richman’s previous post on “The Relationship between Naming and Dominance in fledgling,” I want to continue the discussion on the links between (and framing of) naming and power present in Octavia Butler’s fledgling. As Hanna described in her post, more than constituting a performance of dominance, the process of naming forms part what Foucault calls “the nomination of the visible,” a collective enterprise of identifying, categorizing, and defining that is part and parcel of the knowledge-building and visual paradigm so central to “the opening up of what is called modernity” (Fred Moten, “Black Mo’nin'”) in the nineteenth-century. Indeed, the process of naming as illustrated in Fledgling operates, at least in part, in conjunction with this type of naming as a formation of knowledge (and thereby power). Again, as Hanna already described, what Pramod Nayar calls Wright’s “Adamic act” of naming the protagonist (Shori) Renee early on in the novel stands as a testament to the power dynamics already present in their relationship. (View Nayar’s article here.) In this way, Shori is “reborn” and immediately inscribed within a discursive formation as dictated by Wright. Continue reading More on naming and power in fledgling