May the meek inherit the earth

March 15, 2010

Describe the “Telling.” Do you believe this would be a successful belief system?

“Telling” is a system of oral history and documented literature. The Akan have banned this, however the Okzat Ozkot people, oppressed by the corruption of the Corporation, choose to engulf themselves in what they do have and that is their heritage their belief system and their traditions. Through their storytelling they keep the culture of the Akan alive. Outside of the Okzat Ozkot Aka is overrun by propaganda and corruption. The Akan people use up all of the resources and have no thoughts of a future. They live in the now with zero regard for the consequences that their actions have on their environment.

While I admired the Okzat Ozkot, I felt that outside of their specific culture this belief system and practice could not work. While they engulf theirselves in their own culture and the preservation of the Aka they do not attempt to change the current state of Aka in whole. I felt that given their success as a sub-culture of the Aka they could have had alot to offer to the others and could maybe show them a way that does not just focus on the material good of the now but rather in the preservation of tradition and the importance of a healthy future.

If the Ozkat Okzot could find a healthier balance and keep their peaceful ways and their successful society but have a little more regard and understanding of the world outside their culture they could hae had a more successful community. I’d love to say that this could work in today’s climate but being an American in a country driven by consumerism and materialism its hard to imagine. Who knows maybe some small indigenous tribe may be able to bring some morals and grounding back into our culture on the whole. But it doesn’t seem likely.

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The Stone Gods

February 27, 2010

In the Easter Island portion of Winterson’s novel, “The Stone Gods” we examine a society obsessed with carving stone idols of their Gods. This obsession is leading to a complete overhaul of their duties and the eventual depletion of their planet’s natural resources. Winterson writes, “Ok so it’s the planet’s fault.  We didn’t do anything, did we?  Just fucked it to death and kicked it when it wouldn’t get up” (7). The message that Winterson seems to be driving blatantly and forcefully into her reader’s mind, is one of environmental consciousness. She’s clearly making reference to our earth’s overwhelming reliance on natural unrenewable resources such as coal and oil, however other less obvious connections might also be worth mentioning.

This ongoing  theme of material goods and the tolls they take on a society led me to the modern day always controversial topic of animal fur. Fur coats, hats, rugs and other material luxeries are continuing to be created with seemingly little to no thought about the depletion of their main ingredient-animals. Now don’t get me wrong, not all of these animals are in danger of extinction but some, such as the Afghan Snow Leopard, definitely are. As these become more and more rare the prices go up and up and the demand becomes greater at the cost of the extinction of a whole species of mammal. Now I’m no PETA activist but a coat hardly seems worth this great a loss.

Now, more on the subject of modern day idolatry and worship, I began to think of little boys and girls’ action figures and hannah montana dolls. And in the same vein grown men who wear Lebron James, David Ortiz, and Brett Favre jersey’s while engaging in the near religious event of attending a sports exhibition. This same sort of worship even goes on on our campus with our fellow classmates, the buckeye football team. On senior day fans are even given bobble head dolls of their favorite Buckeye football stars…now if that isn’t a parallel I don’t know what is!

Connie’s Sanity

February 21, 2010

Marge Piercy’s, Woman on the Edge of Time explores the life of Connie, a poor Chicana living in New York City and struggling to get by. A widower, Connie is now left to care for her child, and turns to binge drinking and other unhealthy coping mechanisms that ultimately lead to child abuse and her forced admission into a mental hospital. Connie is absolutely unstable however her present society has hastily placed the tag of “a schizophrenic” on her thus drawing a distinct line between troubled and insane, where many readers might argue the evidence falls in more of a gray area. Piercy hints that this diagnosis is a blanketed, safe one and allows the reader to admonish the psychiatric profession thus complicating our view of Connie’s sanity and ask ourselves, “at what point does a person break?”

Often in society, deviants, or people that do not follow social norms or the status quo, are misunderstood and therefore villainized. In Connie’s case she is labeled insane. Connie is a single mother in a time when it is most accepted to be paired up with a man to take care of the family. She is a poor, female, minority trapped in a culture that over-sexualizes Latino women, thus degrading their worth. Though I don’t believe that this issue was touched upon enough in this novel I think it is an important point to make and one that most likely would play a huge role in the self-esteem of our leading lady. When a woman in Connie’s situation spends her whole life being looked at as a sex object it would seem that anyone would break down and deal with her coping in harmful ways.

One less harmful way that Connie copes is through the creation of Mattapoisett, a society 150 years in the future that socializes in much healthier, civilized ways. All of the stress that Connie’s hospitalization has placed on her has caused her to create this Utopia in which her problems would no longer exist. On page 61, in a very notable moment of the novel Luciente explains to Connie:

“Our madhouses are places where people retreat when they want to go down into themselves — to collapse, carry on, see visions, hear voices of prophecy, bang on the walls, relive infancy… We all lose parts of ourselves. We all make choices that go bad……. How can another person decide that it is time for me to disintegrate, to reintegrate myself?”

In a world like this Connie would be free from the perils of her oppressors and could work on rebuilding her self, rather than tearing it down.

Aliens=Foreign. Foreign=Eww

February 21, 2010

We fear what is foreign to us. It’s as human as eye boogers in the morning or pooforia. And in Octavia Butler’s Dawn, nothing is more foreign to Lilith than the Oankali. In her first encounter with an Oankali, she sees it as a “tall slender man (or humanoid)…it had no nose–no bulge, no nostrils–just flat, gray skin.” She also notes that it is extremely hairy, and even questions Jdahya about his sex.  However, after looking closer and speaking with the creature, she finds out that the it is a him and his hair is not hair at all but rather, feeler tentacles used to sense and in a way see. This encounter shows Lilith, as every human would, attempting  to qualify and understand this foreign creature in human-like terms. She assumes that their features imitate human features and function in similar ways showing her anthropocentric outlook on living things. Jdahya even calls her on this when she questions him about his gender.

Though the Oankali possess many additional foreign features that we humans do not have, their creepiness lies more in the features that they do not possess such as hair, noses, and in particular, eyes. Across most species the eyes are the most relateable common characteristic. We empathize with puppy dog eyes, engage in staring contests with the eyes of cats, and can even show remorse when forced to look into the beady eyes of our college roomates, the rats. And as we’ve often heard, it’s only through the eyes that we can see into another person or creature’s soul and so without eyes, we might assume that no soul is present. This adds a layer of mystery that makes Jdahya and the Oankali all the more creepy and thus keeps Lilith and the reader at a distance.

What Our Narrator Did Not See

February 6, 2010

In Fowler’s, “What I Didn’t See,” the narrator as well as many of the other characters are so influenced by stereotype, both of humans and of primates, that they, in many circumstaces, are blinded by them and in turn miss out on the reality going on around them. The men in this story see the women as entertainment, novelties and in Beverly’s case, an object of desire rather than a human. In a lot of ways the women, specifically Beverly are just as much game to these man as the gorillas are. The men view the women as trophies in the same way they view the gorillas as trophies. They also at one point speak about the women bluntly nearly right in front of them as if they think that the women do not have ears or are not intelligent enough to understand them, much like a dog or a gorilla.

But it’s not just the men that are blinded by stereotypes, but also our female narrator. Just like the men our narrator sees Beverly more for her function and her desirability to the men than she sees her as a person. Beverly is a threat to her and by her getting so much of the men’s attention Beverly makes the narrator feel old used up and invisible. However this dismissal of Beverly allows the narrator to be just as ignorant of another female’s worth as the men are.

After looking back at the situation and realizing fault and the error of her ways our narrator can finally understand Beverly’s last words to her. By Beverly saying, “hold onto him [Eddie]” she is not telling the narrator that if she doesn’t that she’ll snatch him up, but rather that when you find love hold onto it. Beverly didn’t have that kind of love and was envious, but it wasn’t until the end of the story that  the narrator finally realizes this.

A Horse on Egg Shells

January 9, 2010

“Do unto others as you would want others to do unto you.” We’ve all heard it before, but Henry seems to have this a little mixed up. Mistreated at work Henry seems to displace his aggression on his wife Ann rather than the direct wrongdoers- his superiors. This seems odd as he of all people should be empathetic to this sort of treatment. As most of us have gathered, Henry is not exactly the most appreciative husband. Ann is constantly walking on egg shells in an attempt to keep him from getting upset. She is responsible for waking him, (by yelling up to him at the perfect decibel) cooking his meals (and serving them at the perfect temperature) as well as caring for the house and the kids, though in Henry’s mind she can do no right. To Henry, Ann is a careless spender of his money, a lousy cook, and in the conclusion of the story a “big horse.”

Though Ann openly professes her disdain for her husband she stays loyal to him, constantly dwelling on his likes and dislikes, and often placing his needs above her children’s and her own. And just as Henry openly quarrels with his bosses he remains loyal to his job and his government to the point where he sides with “The Center” over his own wife in an argument about their children’s fate. Henry feels that he does twice as much work as his coworkers but still finds himself in danger of being fired. He works late and is constantly tired and ornery yet he’s described as “a staunch government man.”

Both of these characters are in poor situations but stay with them for fear that they cannot do any better. They are brainwashed into thinking that the abuse that they undergo is acceptable and that they do not have other options. This aforementioned rhetoric is often used when speaking about women in abusive home situations, but could also be used when speaking of any gender/race/orientation in any unhealthy situation imaginable.

This political point is driven home in Ann’s last monologue of the story when she states, “Henry, we have to live. Till we are all called in, or our children, or our children’s children. Till there is nowhere else to go.” This situation is eternal for these people. Jones is creating this absurd, hyperbolic fictional situation to show the reader that these situations on all scales do occur in our lives, but that we need to know that we always have options and that abuse is never worth living with.