Some synthesized thoughts on Jazz/Purgatorio part 1

While I think there is a benefit to examining specific similarities between Morrison’s Jazz and Dante’s Purgatorio, I also believe that, in order to make more progress on this project, it is important to also see these similarities on a broader level. I’m almost finished with Purgatorio, but now I’ve read enough to be able to see some larger trends that are present in both texts. Through my reading, I’ve found four distinct threads that I feel are important for both Jazz and Purgatorio. These can then be further subdivided and of course are up for debate (and I definitely think my own thoughts would benefit from larger discussions). I thought perhaps this organized list would be the best way to show my thinking:

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Stigmergencies, a second responder

A few weeks back Brendan made a post called Stigmergencies whether stigmergy can really help us build a better system. He was responding the work of Heather Marsh who argues for a movement away from representative democracy and towards collaboration. Like Marsh, I believe that we have a system in desperate need of change. Like Brendon, I’m not sure stigmergy is the way to go.

In order for everyone stigmergy to work, everyone must be working towards the same goal, which means the same goal must be mutually beneficial to everyone.

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Cooperatives and Butler’s Communities pt. 1 (revised)

The Rochdale principles are a set of guidelines on how to operate a cooperative. They date back to 1844 when they were first drafted and enacted by the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers in Rochdale, England. They are as follows:

Voluntary and open membership


Motivations and rewards

Democratic member control

Member economic participation

Autonomy and independence Read more

The Amish and Community (an earlier post revised)

I don’t know how I feel about the Amish. I don’t know if it’s fair to bring someone into that lifestyle without their consent. This might sound like a familiar dilemma to my classmates.

First, allow me to clarify that when I say “that lifestyle,” I do not  wish to insinuate I have anything close to first hand experience the way an actual Amish person or even one of their neighbors would have. I grew up among the comforts of suburbia and therefore my first-hand experience is limited to public markets and driving past buggies on back roads. My exposure and understanding of the Amish is product of my own community, which plays upon my reading of things independent of the thing which I’m trying to reach a judgement on. All said, I’m going to use this source mainly as my basis for talking about the Amish in this post.

Amish children are raised in a certain lifestyle all their life, one that is intentionally separated from the practices of the world at large. Sometime recently either in my notes or perhaps in class I spoke about the way cultures creates a homogenized opinion of something, and the larger the culture the greater potential for this general opinion to be established. (There’s probably a word for this, so Sociology students are invited to get at me. I think what I’m talking about is Freud’s superego but that kind of sounds wrong to me too…) Read more

David Huggins is the most relaxed alien abductee you’ve ever seen

David Huggins is a painter from Hoboken, NJ, whose work is primarily dedicated to illustrating his lifelong experiences as an alien abductee. The experiences he describes and paints are not unlike the established alien script that’s been propagated throughout America for over half a century. The way I see it, that’s just as much a reason to believe as it is a reason to be skeptical. This year a movie about Mr. Huggins was released: Love and Saucers: The Far Out World of David Huggins.

Here’s the trailer:

The scenarios he paints are also not without their own ethical conundrums reminiscent of those we encounter in Butler’s fiction. How he tells it, his abductions began when he was 8 years old, and have never stopped. When they began, rather than receive beatings for telling is parents what he saw, one alien told him to keep silent about their visits. Almost a decade later, he lost his virginity to the same alien, a female named Crescent, when he was 17. Since then, Mr. Huggins believes he has sired over fifty hybrid Human/Alien children.

What makes Mr. Huggins unique among professed abductees is the way he’s managed to render his experiences visually. He has taken his experiences out of the realm of his singular account and, through creating these visual testaments, has created objects for viewers to experience as well. It’s a neat little hat trick. Read more

Posthumanism, Transhumanism and Butler’s Humanism

Here above is a helpful short post which defines the two fields of thought: Posthumanism and Transhumanism.

Posthumanism is a term I have been using a lot in casual conversation. Now that I’ve looked it up to flesh out this blog post, I’m finding my definition was awfully limited. Apparently there’s up to seven definitions of the term (according to Wikipedia), but the one I’m focusing on is illuminated here, meaning:

“Most simply, the posthuman can be defined as that condition in which humans and intelligent technology are becoming increasingly intertwined.  More specifically, the posthuman is a projected state of humanity in which unlocking of the information patterns that those who believe in the posthuman say make us what we are—will shift the focus of humanness from our outward appearance to those information patterns.” (LaGrandeur, 2014).

This seems like a significant tie-in with regards to disrupting the primacy of the regime of the visual. If humanness can be attributed to something ethereal and cerebral rather than visual, external or physical, then our definition of what “human” can mean expands. If instead we accept the primacy of visual, the form of our appearence, if we equate it with something essential to being “human,” what we get instead might look like Transhumanism, defined in the same post as: Read more

Back at Home with Butler

The second I arrived back at home and my mom begins to ask me about my courses. I knew it would be relatively easy to explain all of them, all of them except my Octavia Butler course. I wasn’t quite sure where to start with this one. Do I just explain the books that the class has read? Do I try and guide her through all the themes we have discovered in those books? I finally decided on showing her our final exam project and to take it from there. Read more

You Judged that Book by its Cover, Didn’t You?

Earlier this semester our professor, Dr. McCoy, showed us the original cover of Dawn. I remember being confused for a moment. Where was Lilith? Well, it turns out she was right there, where you would expect her to be. She just didn’t look like you would expect her to look. She was white.

I’ve thought back to this cover a lot over the semester and every time I think about it I get a little bit angrier. First, there is the huge problem with whitewashing in Hollywood. Most people realize that this is a problem in film, but many don’t realize it’s also a problem at the local bookstore. Octavia Butler’s Dawn is one, but certainly not the only time this has happened.

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