To Be Or Not To Be: The Turbulent Relationship One Has With Growing Up Possessing A Skull

In my last blog post, I began to discuss Fortunes Bones and the ethical issues I have personally struggled with as someone whose father possess a skull from his time in dental school. I feel that there is a need to clarify that although I may have made it seem like there was normalcy to growing up with a skull in my house, that this has not in fact been the case. Having a skull in our home has led me to deal with many of the ethical dilemmas we have discussed in class regarding consent when using another’s body for medical education. There have been times in the past where I was comfortable with our possession of the skull and believed that it afforded myself and others a great opportunity to learn from. There have also been times, however, where I was seriously uncomfortable with our possession of the skull; not only can it be unsettling to live with what was once another person’s head, but also it can be bothersome to live so intimately with it when you don’t know its full story.

Continue reading “To Be Or Not To Be: The Turbulent Relationship One Has With Growing Up Possessing A Skull”

The definition of consent and what we mean by consent tends to be manipulated or misinterpreted. According to, consent is “to permit, approve, or agree; comply or yield.” Unfortunately what some may fail to understand is that you have the right to say no after having said yes or given consent. In Clay’s Ark by Butler, the idea of consent is often abandoned and manipulated by the disease. An example of this is with the sexual interactions between Eli and Meda. Continue reading “”

Is There A Bigger Question To Be Asked?


When I was reading Medical Apartheid, an unfortunate truth was revealed to me in Chapter 11. Although I was aware that many African American children were taken advantage of in a multitude of medical experimentations, it didn’t make it any easier to accept the fact that infants were involved as well. Many were subjected to spinal taps that would affect the development of their adult bodies for the rest of their lives. I love children so reading this chapter was tough for me to know that those kids didn’t even have a chance to live a normal life simply due to the fact that they were born at the wrong place and time. Continue reading “Is There A Bigger Question To Be Asked?”

In Regards to Kin and Reality (and before I change my mind about posting)

Before I go on a tirade about somewhat old class notes, I just want to say that it is exactly what this post is going to be. I’m typically mute in class as I pay attention to every nearby voice and jot down my thoughts onto a sheet of paper. I’m often aggravated of hearing the same kind of format about consent, identity, and racial tension with nearly each and every bit of literature of article that we’re presented.

With that said, I suppose I’m glad to be aggravated, for how one class – the 16th of October actually – gave way to the ideas of propaganda, disillusion, and dullness. The latter is likely the reiteration of how I sometimes feel when succumbing to my timid self in class. The first two on the other hand, relate back to what my title says, and I believe this can be a tangible issue that plague everyone who happens to possess any kind of quote on quote, family. I’m just talking about disagreements or teenage angst here, but unfortunate circumstances like political violence and social disorder, along exposure to foreign elements (such as the type of exposure we see in Clay’s Ark). I written down “varying degrees of fairness” when hearing the contrast between labeled fairness and actual fairness. A few mentions of real life give way to “The Chicago Machine” and Mayor Harold Washington essentially going against “Black Chicago.” Upon hearing the terms “too fair” personally upset me, but that’s my own bias behind what I wish in regards to equality. This may relate back to a more recent discussion regarding identity and interdependence, but I suppose that is for another post in itself. Apparently the phrase upset me enough to write down “either side wants to blow themselves” and I found the description hypocritical. I believe the term came during a hearing of This American Life podcast, if I remember correctly. Another term I wrote was “violent politeness” – something I likely heard from the same podcast. I was also trying to find a middle ground in order to pave some connection between all that I’ve taken in, along with the body of work via Octavia Butler. I think I’m still confused by it, but I suppose it’s meant to be familiarized with the system we live by, whether we like it or not. The same instance can be said for somebody whose city has been touched by bombs, or by a significant lack of clean water. Maybe I’m assuming Butler is presenting not only a discussion that ponders the extent of consent, but also the environment. Going more into a more recent class (the 23rd of October) via aliens desiring to affect the human race for seemingly good intentions –  despite the lack of trust, consent, and full awareness of the environment.

Does that sound a bit familiar?

I’m also bound to sound incredibly confusing at this point, but I’m starting to think that Butler’s output on the world when paralleled with her writing is safely silhouetted with sci-fi elements, all the while including a conspicuous message towards the human race.

This may or may not be continued in another overly broad post. (Sigh)

Otherworldly Passengers in Stranger Things and Clay’s Ark

The Duffer Brothers, the creative duo behind the hit Netflix Series, Stranger Things, have spoken openly about their major influences, the many movies of the 1980s, namely Stephen Spielberg and John Carpenter titles, as well as Stephen King’s fiction. These influences come through clearly with the synth-heavy soundtrack reminding viewers of Carpenter’s horror, the dialogue and spectacle of Spielberg films such as E.T. and the small-town vibe and characters reminiscent of King’s It. The second season of Stranger Things expands the sci-fi mythos, and apparently draws from even more influences of the genre. In particular, there is a character who is inhabited by an organism from another world, which alters his compulsions, much like in Octavia Butler’s 1984 work Clay’s Ark. Continue reading “Otherworldly Passengers in Stranger Things and Clay’s Ark”

Broad City and Butler

Ilana: “You wanna talk nasty seafood? I read a thing on Buzzfeed that said there’s microscopic shrimp in all of New York City’s drinking water.”

Bobbi: “What?”

Ilana: “Copepods, they’re called.”

Bobbi: “No!”

Ilana: “Yeah, Google it. We have shrimp inside of us at all times, which I’m okay with, sounds delicious. But it’s like, ask me first?”

According to the NYT article, there are 100 trillion bacteria on each person’s skin, and the Medical News Today article claims we have up to two kilograms of bacteria in our guts. The NYT article also says that we are only 10% human, meaning that for every human cell we have there are 10 microorganisms, and 99% of the genetic material inside our bodies are from said microorganisms.

In the excerpt from Broad City, we see pop culture evidence of non-consent in microorganisms inhabiting our bodies. We do not initially consent to these beings living in our bodies, but this occurs anyway. Only through scientific research do we even learn about this, which brings up questions of epistemic privilege and the divide between the conscious/subconscious brain.

The more I learn the more I find myself struggling to grapple with questions of inherent non-consent in our everyday lives, and to some extent non-consent that lives in the divide in the brain. To be honest, this is hard for me to describe in words. We don’t know what’s going on in our own bodies at all, but our subconscious brain/body responds to stimuli without our conscious brain knowing about it. Here is where epistemic privilege comes into play as well: those who are well-versed in biology (doctors, researchers, etc.) know more about violence inflicted upon the body than the average lay person.

Sickness, in this respect, is also violence enacted upon the body in biological, socioeconomic, and cultural strains. Structural/institutional violence against the body is evident in the American healthcare system in which people who cannot afford healthcare/treatment often go untreated and eventually will die (another pop cultural reference: Breaking Bad). Culturally, some people may be shunned for having diseases, especially if they are part of a marginalized group to begin with (HIV/AIDS epidemic, violence against queer (and especially queer POC) bodies).

Butler’s fiction forces me to become cognizant of these issues of everyday violence, and beckons questions of how truly autonomous and “free” we really are. In this respect, I find myself thinking a lot about choosing what is “right,” meaning what I should do, not what I can do.


“Care is the antidote to violence”

One of the questions that Butler’s fiction consistently asks is, “Why are people so relentlessly awful to each other?” In “Adulthood Rites” and “Dawn,” to me one of the answers seems to be that people act this way when they fail to recognize others as people. I’m using the term “people” rather than human, because in the Lilith’s Brood trilogy, Butler uses “human” as more of a way to distinguish those from earth from the Oankali. In my definition of it, “people” includes any complex living being with thoughts and desires.  Continue reading ““Care is the antidote to violence””

“Bloodchild” and the Monstrous Feminine

As we continue our readings and discussions for the semester, I find myself routinely circling back to “Bloodchild” as I attempt to better understand the way Butler’s fiction underscores questions of gendered hierarchies. Although I’ve enjoyed all of the theory we’ve read in class so far, I especially liked reading up on Julia Kristeva’s concept of ‘abjection’ and the own research I’ve done on gendered abjection in psychological horror.

Continue reading ““Bloodchild” and the Monstrous Feminine”

Super Heroes vs Super Villains?

On October 23rd when we first began discussing Clay’s Ark, we briefly discussed the physical appearance and attributes of Eli and the rest of the people in the enclave as opposed to Blake, Rane and Keira. Because of this, I began reflecting on how the appearance of people can give off a certain vibe about someone, causing us to go against the idea of “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Continue reading “Super Heroes vs Super Villains?”