When asked to find a text to look at for Afrofuturism, I thought I’d look at a topic that everyone is involved with everyday, food. Food is an important part of everyone’s life and it can be a source of connection and community for people. So I found a cookbook that is focused on taking a new look at food from regions of the African Diaspora and making vegan recipes out of traditional Africa, Caribbean, and Southern US foods. Continue reading “Afrofuturism in Food”
I am beginning to see the parallels that Jemisin is trying to draw between the real world and the literary world. The demonstration of power structure and divisions among races is something that the book is doing a great job showing. The co-dependency of the Orogenes and the Guardians is something that I would definitely like her to expand upon as I progress through the book to get a better grasp on the outside message that she is attempting to display.
I have struggled in finding things that are Afrofuturistic, because I think like many people I find it difficult to pin down an exact definition of this topic (shout out to one of my classmates posts from last week) yet as Professor Lytton Smith has suggested (please excuse any inaccuracy in my paraphrasing) Afrofuturism is an ever-evolving area of study, thought, art, etc thus its definition is surely frequently being altered and added to.
Reading Sabrina Chan’s post “Fake News” got me thinking about the concept of power structures and the subjugation of orogenes in The Fifth Season. Sabrina notes that, “Stills maintain their social superiority by passing down ‘stonelore [that tells] them at every turn that [orogenes were] born evil – some kind of agents of Father Earth, monsters that barely qualify as human’ for generations; to the point where even orogenes are raised to believe so. If the stills allow themselves to see orogenes as more than supernatural tools, then they [orogenes] are also forced to acknowledge themselves as the weaker ‘species’.” I think this is a great point: the stills’ dehumanization of the orogenes into tools forces them towards the bottom of the power hierarchy, allowing a much less powerful species to subjugate them by labeling them as “tools” that exist purely for the stills’ benefit. I believe this parallels how black people were dehumanized and subjugated on Earth for centuries. They have been dehumanized by racists who compare them to monkeys, and subjugated through systems such as slavery in America and apartheid in South Africa, in which blacks were suppressed by a white minority for many years. The effects of these systems of subjugation are still felt all over the world today, through racism, poverty, and violence. Continue reading “Power Hierarchies and Oppression of Orogenes”
In Dr. Farthing’s lab on Monday, one of the things that stood out to me was the discussion of Hoa and the consumption of geological materials. Professor McCoy’s mention of kaolinite led to me researching its potential nutritional value, eventually leading me to the term geophagia, or the eating of geological materials, specifically earth, soil, or clay.
According to the same source, geophagia is defined by psychologists as a form of pica, a mental disorder that is characterized by eating objects of no nutritional value. However, this website does mention that eating clay does not necessarily a pica patient make, as “some cultures promote eating clay as a part of medicinal practice.”
The passage from Snead that focused on repetition was really informative for me. He claims that the lack of repetition in Western culture is truly at odds with, not only the cultures of Asia and Africa, but nature itself. Honestly, after thinking on what he claims I end up completely agreeing. Western culture marks the seasonal changes with holidays that are more and more connected to consumerism rather than the actual nature based origin of the holiday. Christmas came to mind when reading this passage as these days, from this reader’s perspective, the holiday may still be considered a religious holiday but the underlying focus is on buying and giving gifts. The origin of the holiday itself, it is argued, not Christian at all, Continue reading “Lack of Nature in Western Culture”
We talked a lot about the name “Stone Eater” in the lab on Monday and the informality of the word “stone” in geologic terms. With every couple pages I read, im finding that stone eaters are becoming increasingly more important to the structure of the post apocalyptic world that Jemison creates. I’m wondering if it was a conscious decision to use the less formal term, “stone” for this pivotal role. The word “stone” has a more medieval connotation than “rock”. The period of time when early humans discovered how to make tools out of rocks is not called “the rock age”, it’s known as the Stone Age. Perhaps Jemison wanted to use the word “stone” because it has a stronger correlation to earlier, more primal humans and the medieval period, which is known for its hierarchies and violence. This would create a parallel between the dynamic of nobles, knights, and serfs, and that of the Fulcrum, Guardians and orogenes. this emphasizes cyclical nature of violence, hierarchies and oppression among human societies.
Although Monday was mostly a day of geology and terminology, we briefly discussed the fact that Hoa eats rocks. It caught me off guard, and was a bit of a spoiler, but it raises the question of whether or not he is a stone eater. He literally eats rocks, wouldn’t that make him a stone eater? This is not the only odd thing about Hoa. When confronted with a wild animal, he manages to turn this animal into stone and break it into pieces. This is a strange ability that does not align with the abilities of orogenes.
Jemison also mentions his oddly shaped teeth during the tense interaction with Yikka at the house. His teeth were described as sharp and diamond like. Diamonds and the hardest rocks, and have the ability to scratch and even break other rocks. It makes sense that Hoa can eat rocks if his teeth are hard enough to pierce and break them. Simultaneously to the discovery that Hoa’s teeth are made of diamonds, Syenite finds that she and Alabaster have been “saved” by a stone eater. Is this a coincidence or is there a connection between the stone eater that Syen and Alabaster know and Hoa, the rock eating child? Are stone-eaters mystical creatures that live in obelisks under bodies of water? Or can they also disguise themselves as strange nomadic children?
I’m only halfway through the novel, so I’m not yet sure if there is a connection between Hoa and this mysterious creature that Syenite finds when attempting to clean the harbor. I’m predicting that some stone eaters, like some orogenes, walk secretly among “humans”, and have the sense to identify one another. Hoa senses that Nassun is an orogene upon meeting her and is able to track her family for weeks. If he can do this, he can surely identify and track other beings like himself. He, however appears tense when he meets another being like himself at Yikka’s house. Is he hiding from something, and what exactly is he? It will be interesting to learn more about Hoa as the novel progresses. I have a lot of questions about this strange, yet comical character.
I first wanted to talk about the excerpt that i read from Snead. This quote from the reading in particular i found very interesting. Snead wrote ” Nothing is constant in the whole world. Everything is in a state of flux, and comes into being as a transient appearance. . . don’t you see a year passing through a succession of four seasons?” pg. 65. I found this quote to be very intriguing because it implies that as time continues to pass, oppression and other hardships faced by africans may dissipate. I really liked how Snead used the example of a year that passes with four seasons. This helps the reader understand that the world and the situations within it are constantly changing.
So far I am finding this class to be very interesting. It is a topic that is completely foreign to me and I believe that is why I find it so interesting. I saw the movie black panther last year and when I first watched it, it just seemed like a typical superhero movie to me. However as we go through it in class, I’ve realized that there is much more about Black Panther then just “a superhero movie”. I feel like I am learning a completely new subject for the first time in a while and it excites me for the rest of the semester.
Afrofuturism is hard to explicitly define. Wikipedia defines it as using “…science fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, Afrocentrism and magic realism with non-Western cosmologies in order to critique the present-day dilemmas of black people and to interrogate and re-examine historical events”. By this definition, Langston Hughes practices parts of this himself in one of the poems we read this weekend. He writes “[d]reams and nightmares…dreaming that the negroes of the South have taken over- voted all the Dixiecrats right out of power- comes the colored hour: Martin Luther King is Governor of Georgia, Dr. Rufus Clement his chief advisor, Zelma Watson George the High Grand Worthy. In white pillard mansions sitting on their wide verandas, wealthy negroes have white servants, white sharecroppers work the black plantations, and colored children have white mammies…”(Ask Your Mama, pages 91-92). In a way, this does what a part of afrofuturism aims to do, but without a sci-fi or fantasy theme. Continue reading “Langston Hughes and Afrofuturism”
I began thinking about our class discussion that we had on September 10th about the meaning behind Jemisin’s choice of titling the prologue of The Fifth Season as “you are here”. LeiBin made the comment that Jemisin forced us to start “here” in the novel, leaving us to piece things together to uncover meaning, and get a sense of the beginning of the story on our own, since we essentially started in the middle of everything.