“To forget would be not only dangerous but offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.” – Elie Wiesel
For my first blog post (I’m shocked but also pleased with myself that I’m doing this now and not later), I’d like to delve further into the discussion we were having on Monday, in regards to memory and forgetting because it really sparked my interest. But first- Catherine already so-brilliantly tackled this subject in her blog post that you can (and should) check out here. I would like to further expand on this.
Though I wrote a sort of closing statement in my last blog post, there are still things lingering in my brain. It’s so bittersweet that this is my last post. I really enjoyed writing these, as it allowed me to use my voice. Most of my English courses require large amounts of extremely formal writing, understandably so, but I crave every opportunity where my writing can be more personal… More me. Read more
I see that many of us have been reflecting on the collective course statement as well as the class as a whole, so I thought I might jot my thoughts down as well.
This semester, I have been involved in more group assignments and projects than I ever have. Just prior to the first days of this class, the word “group work” could bring me to tears. I’m practically the poster child for introverts. I don’t know why I am. My mind is constantly bustling with ideas and thoughts that I feel could make a difference, but I am too afraid to speak on them.
The article Professor McCoy presented to us, An Unconscious Patient with a DNR Tattoo definitely caught my attention. I first read about the issue when it was highlighted on Twitter over this past weekend, and it has been floating around my mind ever since.
A while ago, Emma wrote an incredibly insightful blog post entitled, “What Does it Mean to be “Human?” Quite honestly, it’s a question I have been reflecting on for a while now. Unfortunately, I don’t think I have an answer to this. If anything, I have more questions and thoughts to add.
Aside from consent, humanity and what it means to be human seem to be major themes woven into every piece of writing we’ve read. As Emma so wonderfully explains, Clay’s Ark by Octavia Butler tackles the issue of humanity throughout the novel. Emma addresses the more scientific aspect of the novel. Once the human comes in contact with the foreign organism, they start to lose their human qualities, making them more barbaric. Like Emma says, when Blake attempts to figure out what is wrong with Meda, he finds that the disease had “tampered with Meda’s genetic blueprint” and “had left her no longer human.” (Page 498)
Looking at this one way, the disease literally alters the human it comes in contact with. However, I think Butler wants us to tackle the question of what it means to be human on a level deeper than this. Clay’s Ark is extremely complex. Doctor Blake Maslin and his two daughters, sweet Rane and Keira are abducted on the side of the road one day and taken to an isolated farm where they’re expected to live among these people with a dangerous and deadly disease that they claim there is no escape. Blake is unconvinced, and thinks he will either find a cure for the disease or escape with his girls so they don’t become victims of the farm family. Throughout the novel, we see characters experience bouts of hopelessness, doubt, and anger. At the very end of the novel, we witness sweet, innocent Rane “cradling an automatic rifle” and shooting the heads off of people in order for her and her family to get to safety. (page 614) Just a page after we learn from Blake that he unintentionally betrayed everyone by the doing the worst: spreading the disease to the rest of humanity. Right before he dies, he struggles to say, “I did it. Oh, Jesus. I did it.” (Page 618) All in all, it’s an extremely twisted novel. I think Butler wants us to ask, “what does it mean to be human?” But in a deeper sense. Do we have a responsibility or unspoken agreement to take care of each other, or look out for each other, as fellow humans? If we do, are there any exceptions? What happens when we abandon humanity? Just look at Clay’s Ark. We get a sense that the people on the farm have a sense of family. But once Blake and his daughters try to escape, it seems as though violence just breaks loose. Blake seems to have the intention of escaping the farm right from the get-go. He wants nothing to do with them. Was it Blake’s job, as a father and a doctor to get comfortable in his new place and help Meda and Eli and the rest of the family? At the end of the novel, many died at the hands of Rane and others. Even Blake dies. Despite being infected by the disease, the people on the farm were still “human.” They were a part of the same human race as the Maslin family. I don’t know if I explained this well enough, nor do I think there is one straight answer. But there are some interesting questions to reflect on. What does being a human come down to? Do you think the characters in this book maybe lacked a bit of humanity? Do you think if these people took more measures to care for each other and look out for one another, things would have been different?
Ah, medical volunteerism. You know, sometimes I really do feel bad about the amount of blog posts you might end up reading about medical volunteerism on this website, but honestly, there is just much to say on the topic, and everyone has contributed such meaningful and thought provoking sentiments to the blog… So, is it really a bad thing?
In this one in particular, I’d like to briefly comment on Avery’s very eloquent blog post entitled “Studying Abroad: What’s your Real Purpose?” I think Avery was incredibly attentive in her writing and brought up some interesting points about the medical volunteerism industry being tainted by American’s selfish motivations.
With a book as content-loaded and complex as Zone One by Colson Whitehead, you are sure to run into at least a handful of memorable scenes and quotes.
I have been thinking about the language Colson Whitehead uses in Zone One ever since I began reading it. It’s complex. Overly-descriptive. Lyrical. Eloquent. Frustrating. Muddy. Inflated. But I love it.
I didn’t think it would be worth writing a blog post about, but Wednesday’s class made me change my mind. By the end of class time, there were about forty plus previously unfamiliar words written on the board. And I’m sure we could have come up with plenty of more. Zone One is a complex novel through and through.
Though I’d like to (and I will) get into the actual content of the book, Zone One by Colson Whitehead soon (seriously, I’m really liking it so far), I’d like to briefly discuss something that caught my eye in the first few pages of the novel.
“He was their typical, he was their most, he was their average.” “He staked out the B or the B chose him: it was his native land, and in high school and college he did not stray over the county line…” “… He was not made team captain, nor was he the last one picked. He sidestepped detention and honor rolls with equal aplomb.” “His aptitude lay in the well-execute muddle, never shining, never flunking…” (Page 11)
So, I’ve officially let Clay’s Ark sit with me for a few days now. I still don’t entirely know what to make of it, but I have definitely felt many emotions across the spectrum while processing the events that unfolded in the novel. In my opinion, Octavia Butler does an excellent job at developing a story with such complex characters who really make us (and themselves) question the concept of humanity and being a part of a community. Read more