The Infection of a State of War

Eli and Ingraham’s choices to engage in Locke’s society of autonomy and capitalism in relation to the rule of law forces them to enter into a state of nature. Both Eli and Ingraham took more than they needed the day they kidnapped Blake, Keira and Rane from the roadside. During this period, in accordance with Locke, they entered into a state of war. Locke states that, “In transgressing the law of nature, the offender declares himself to live by another rule than that of reason and common equality” (Sect. 8, Chapter 2). Here, that occurs in this scene between kidnappers and the kidnapped. When Blake informs them Eli and Ingraham that Keira is sick, Ingraham states, “Shit . . . What are we supposed to do with a kid who’s already-” (Butler 464), to which Eli responds, “If we’ve made a mistake, it’s too late to cry about it . . . Sorry Doc. Her bad luck and ours . . . Well, you take the good with the bad” (464). This passage indicates that they are taking more than what is necessary, and that they are aware that this is the case. Their taking of “the bad”, Keira, with “the good” Rane and Blake” indicate their grievances with after they enter a state of nature.  The indication alone that she was sick with leukemia and not in the best health indicated their reluctance and lack of need for her. Need is the basis for Locke’s treatise – to take what a person can work with, without crossing the line into greed.

Locke also takes it a step further and states that “Every man has the right to punish the offender and be executioner of the law of nature” (Sect. 8, Chapter 2). In this case, although Locke states that a person can take what they need, it does not necessarily account for the subjugation of freedom from fellow human beings. As a result, this results in the state of war that Locke references throughout his treatise. Both Blake and Rane never come to terms with their denial of freedom, and Keira’s end choice to remain with the infected people in the enclave is not necessarily a choice made from the freedom to consent. Her consent is ultimately derived from duress of familial death, and the stress of being infected, and therefore, perhaps, not truly consent by definition.

What is PTSD?

In Home, by Toni Morrison, Frank Money appears to have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after returning from the Korean War. Money is among many other people who suffer from PTSD. After class discussion on Wednesday, I decided to research PTSD to help me gain a better insight to what Money is experiencing, and the reasons for his actions. Read more

“P.O.W: Prisoner(s) of War”

“P.O.W”

  1. “Prisoner(s) of War”
  2. The title of the second section

     As I was reading Clay’s Ark, I wondered how much control the infected individuals had over themselves. Blake, in his analysis of the organism in Meda, feels that the organism, “Had left her no longer human” (498). This contrasts with Eli who continues to eat cooked food because he feels it’s a “human thing” he can cling on (515). Blake believes the organism takes away one’s entire humanity; Eli believes he still has some control/self autonomy.

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My Geneseo “English Class” Rule

When I first decided to double major and add the English major to my course schedule here at Geneseo, I was told by a friend who was an English student to take your English classes slowly. When I asked her why she stated, “English classes are all different, the professors are different they ask for different things, you expect different things from each class”. So that is precisely what I have been doing, since my freshman year I have been taking one English class a semester, slowly getting through the English major and very quickly getting through my Communication major. Read more

From Vice to Virtue: How We Confront Amoral Experimentation

In reading both Medical Apartheid and Home, readers are confronted with a slew of injustices committed against African-Americans. Perhaps none are as gruesome and distressing as the experimentation in female anatomy carried out by white physicians against unwilling black victims. In her novel, Home, Toni Morrison shows us one such grim scene through the eyes of Frank as he looks upon his nearly dead sister, an unwilling victim of “research.” Her life and death struggle is made all the more immediate through Franks calculated approach to helping her, checking for pulse, breathing, and temperature with the familiarity of one who knows things about the dead. (Morrison, 111) However, this scene pales in comparison to the one painted by Harriet A. Washington in describing the exploits of Dr. James Marion Sims. Here, readers are forced to imagine the pain and terror helpless, enslaved women went through under his knife. The details of vesicovaginal fistula are particularly graphic, as are the descriptions of Dr. Sims carving the vaginal region and sewing it up, only to force it open once more as physicians gazed in awe while slaves screamed. (Washington, 64-65)

This brings me to the main argument of this blog. Although this was only one example of abuse, it is symptomatic of early research in the field of Gynecology. Although this may seem strange coming from a male, gynecology has played an important role in my family. Both of my parents are Obstetrician/Gynecologists and although this makes an impartial view of their work impossible, I can attest to the good they have done. Are town is not large and few days go by without strangers thanking my parents for delivering their children or helping them through surgical intervention. It is distressing to learn just how much of my parents field of practice was built upon the pain and brutalization of voiceless women. It brings to question how exactly we can square the good that has come from medical research with the inhumane methods it was derived from? The same question has been raised across history and is well documented in books and media sources, not least of all in critically acclaimed television series like Star Trek: Voyager and games like Mass Effect. My own view on the subject is that such practices are barbaric and should be left in the past, especially with advances in technology making research less invasive and scaring. However, the hardest question is often what to do with research obtained through these immoral means. Some advocate its destruction to discourage others from advancing science at the cost of human life and suffering. I disagree. People willing to sacrifice their humanity for scientific gain are unlikely to be concerned with what others think of their methods. Regardless, there may always be wicked people willing to profit off the suffering of others. Unfortunately this seems to be part of the darker side of human nature. Destroying such research would guarantee that the victims of experimentation died in vain, that nothing good came of their suffering. People who commit these acts should be punished to the full extent of the law for it is truly a crime against humanity, but punishing their victims with obscurity and pointless suffering is an insult. I’m curious as to what other people think? Feel free to comment or bring it up in class.

Your Language Creates Distance

We talk about a distance that vision creates, but that distance derives from the language we see in Octavia Butler’s Bloodchild. Distance in vision stems from not being able to recognize similarities between a person and what they are seeing. However, it is language that further drives distance, specifically in the way that we perceive and describe it, and the way that we, as readers and voyeurs, describe what exactly we are seeing because we don’t understand it immediately. Butler’s setting alone drives distance between the reader and their understanding of what they are supposed to be experiencing through the narrator. Our experience via Gan, is one that does not tilt us to sympathize or empathize with the Tlic, despite Gan’s affection for them. We see that the Tlic, T’Gatoi, “whipped her three meters of body off her couch” (Butler, 9), that “all of her limbs are equally dexterous” (11), and that she has “yellow eyes” (13). None of these descriptions are humane, despite the interaction that occurs between the Tlic and the humans, and even the comprehension of emotions between the two parties. But more so is distance created because of the actions that Tlic such as T’Gatoi take, and how they are translated by the narrator. The fact that T’Gatoi whipped her body around, as though her body and consciousness are two separate entities, and that her body is implied to have more than the a normal amount of “dexterous” limbs – limbs that are capable of doing tasks equally with the same amount of skill – in comparison to humans, creates distance through action. In particular, this poses a problem in Butler’s narrative, in which Bloodchild is supposed to be a story of adolescence and growing up. Part of that means understanding compromise and necessity, as readers see Gan and T’Gatoi do towards the end of the story – but our understanding of compromise and acknowledgment in part stems from the idea that power does not play a role in these decisions, or else they become choices made under duress, which is no choice at all. So while Butler has no desire for her readers to interpret this story “as a story of slavery”, the story becomes problematic because of the distance, power and lack of understanding that the story breeds.

The law inside the Law

Today in separate groups, Dr. McCoy introduced the fact that after the emancipation proclamation, new laws were invented that would allow free slaves to be forced back into slavery. Once the 13th amendment was made, the first section states, ‘Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duty convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction’ (constitution center) Basically stating, you are a free man or woman, as long as you don’t commit a crime, for if you do, you can be put back into slavery. Outside of stores, there were signs stating ‘No Loitering’, and if someone was seen standing outside of the store (loitering), they could be arrested.

The discussions in our groups today, about which topics resonated with the course title within Home, it was brought up by Grace what ‘vagrancy’ means, homeless, and Frank Money stated as he was escaping the Psych Ward, that he could be arrested for either loitering, being barefoot, or for vagrancy (page 9). Frank was in a mental hospital, but he doesn’t remember how he got there; now Frank is a Korean vet, just out of the war, but he is still being treated lower than dirt, even though he fought for his country. At the Psych ward, his top and jacket were taken, but he still had his pants only because they weren’t effective for suicidal attempts; they took everything he had on him except for his medal (page 8). When thinking of a vet, you immediately think of the respect they deserve for the service they have done for the country, but for Black Vets, they are treated as they were before the war. They are not shown the respect that any vet deserves for putting their lives on the line for freedom. This could be contrasted, for in the novel Home, when Frank is out with Billy from the diner, the police show up, and when the younger policeman notices his medal, tells him to ‘Get lost pal’ (page 37).

 

 

 

 

 

A Reminder

As we were discussing examples within Home that relate to the topics in the course title, Sabrina B. and Adaeze brought up an interesting point to consider whilst reading Home. They pointed out that we should think about the overall message of the book and how it relates to the title of Home.

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“Silent” Consent

To think that consent is the common thread that ties patting someone on the head and using a species as incubators to nurse another’s future generation together is something that my mind has been attempting to grapple with for the past couple days. Weighing in on what affirmation versus refusal to consent looks like, all boils down to two terms, ‘Yes’ and ‘No’.  Read more