Category: McCoy 431 Fall 2017

Revisiting Visual Schemas and Parable of the Sower

Earlier this evening, I was browsing The Rumpus and found a comic book review by Kevin Thomas of Butler’s Parable of the Sower:

Most of the class hasn’t read Parable of the Sower (and it’s not on the syllabus) but Thomas’ illustrations strikes me as a powerful reminder of a book I found deeply moving. I’m interested in the way he constructs the plot of the novel –from an introduction to Lauren Olamina to the establishment of Earthseed–as a visual schema, imbued by his own commentary. Obviously, his 9-panel comic only scratches the surface of a demanding and complex book (to use Beth’s phrase, Butler is not a gratuitous author), but he illuminates some important aspects of the novel, most notably the comment that “its [the novel’s dystopia] causes and effects are sadly plausible.” Thomas is correct:  I find myself thinking of the troubling, chaotic America Butler evokes in Parable at least three times a week. This is particularly true during weeks like these, where we are again confronted with a devastating intersection of environmental havoc and political instability.

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Butler, Bloodchild, and Botflies

Hello all!

*** I will attach links to websites at the end of the post with botfly-related images***

After reading Octavia Butler’s “Bloodchild”, I decided to do some more research on one of the inspirations behind the story…botflies.

With regards to these somewhat terrifying insects, Butler states, “In particular, I was worried about the botfly- an insect with, what seemed to me then, horror movie habits.” After doing some more research of my own, I see now why she refers to these pests as having “horror movie habits”.

Introducing The Botfly:

  • found in Central and South America
  • 12-18mm long
  • “bumblebee appearance”
  • eggs transported through blood-feeding insects or injected staight into host (ew!)
  • eggs hatch when there is a temp. change ( ex. the intake of blood from an insect)
  • Cattle & dogs are common hosts
  • larvae cause D. hominis myiasis (skin lesions) in humans
  • treatment in humans involves a simple surgical procedureOne aspect of the botfly that is the most prominent in Butler’s work is the egg laying/larvae process. In the story, we can see this with Bram Lomas and his condition. Much like the hosts of the botfly, Lomas was infected. When T’ Gatoi cuts into Lomas’ body, she finds several “grubs” infested in his skin, eating away at his flesh. Furthermore, T’ Gatoi places several parasitic worms from Lomas into the belly of an achti so that they can burrow and grow. Similarly, botflies lay their eggs in hosts so that they can grow and thrive.

    Like Butler, writing about these insects did make them seem more interesting (but for me they are still terrifying!

Sources:

https://www.amentsoc.org/insects/glossary/terms/botfly

http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/misc/flies/human_bot_fly.htm

An Unlikely Marriage

It was a pleasant surprise to find last week that I enjoyed “Bloodchild” even more the second time I had to read it for a class. Part of the cause for my newfound enjoyment was probably knowing what to expect. I was prepared for the visceral rejection I felt when reading descriptions of T’Gatoi’s arthropodal form, when reading about what I consider to be an unhealthy relationship, when reading about interspecies impregnation. In many ways, the story Butler claimed to write as an inoculation against her fears worked as a vaccine against my own discomfort as well (Butler, 30). But I think a far more significant source of joy in my second time through the short story was its pairing with Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. They seemed an unlikely match to me on syllabus day, but, having taken classes with Dr. McCoy before, I decided to swallow my preconceptions about both works and enthusiastically observe the conversation in which they were engaged. Read more

An author’s intent vs. what a reader perceives

On Friday, Dr. McCoy brought up the difficulties Octavia Butler had with her readers’ reactions to Bloodchild, namely the insistence that it was about slavery, even though Butler herself said that it wasn’t. This is something that all writers struggle with; how can I make the themes of my story, poem, etc. clear to readers? How can I be sure that they will understand the message I’m trying to convey?

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What brought and bound Romeo and Juliet

When posed the questions what brings people together and what binds people together it’s hard to distinguish between the two because it’s possible to bring and bind people simultaneously. However, by definition bring and bind are different.

In class, we mentioned some examples of what brings people together. They were location, upbringing, chance, choice, religion, culture, language, hardships, and similar goals. On the other hand, when we discussed what binds people we said religion, blood ties, perception of an event, going through a tragedy, documentation, and lasting through time. My thinking process for this class began with this: Read more

Marriage, Shakespeare’s Elizabethan Era, and Modern Day America

After discussing the significance of the use of the word “eye” and the role physical beauty has in William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, it sparked some debate about marriage in the Elizabethan era and its relevance in Modern Day America. Was this because of the patriarchy and the social constructs of Shakespeare’s time, or was this simply just a case of love at first sight? Read more

“What’s in a Name?” Categorization in Butler’s Fiction and Romeo+Juliet

In an interview with Randall Kenan, Octavia Butler spends a great deal of time resisting the labels Kenan presents to her. Immediately, she is contrary to the idea that her writing might be “speculative fiction” rather than science fiction or fantasy (Francis, 27). While reading “Bloodchild,” select interviews with Butler, and Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet I considered the ways language categorizes people and what the resistance to such labels says about those people. In this post, I tried to reconcile my readings with what Butler talks about in her interviews. Read more

Reaction to Bloodchild

Before diving into the main focus I wish to present within this blog post, I would just like to say that I thoroughly enjoyed Octavia Butler’s Bloodchild. I was completely unable to predict where the story would go at any point within this work and that made this reading all the more enjoyable.

What I wish to discuss here is the relationship between the Tlic and humans and whether this connection is mutualistic or parasitic. For clarification purposes, mutualism will be defined as having both parties benefit from the abilities of the other. However, parasitic will be defined as a one-sided relationship in which only one party benefits and has the potential to harm the second party. Read more

Some Defining Fun

Hello folks!

So during our discussion today when we were trying to answer the questions “What brings people together?” and “What binds people together,” I was thinking about how helpful it would be if I had the definitions of the words ‘bring‘ and ‘bind‘ right in front of me. Even if I had looked them up in class, we would not have had enough time to really analyze them because there was a lot of other good stuff being thrown around. So for this kind of scattered blog post, I am going to attach the links to the google definition of each word. Read more