Throughout my childhood my father would always say to me “Michee, you can’t serve two gods.” I’ll come back to that idea towards the end because I believe it aligns with the conclusion I drew after class last week.
One of the questions that I developed after our class discussion was “can anything actually be observed from the outside?” Imperceptible Mutabilities brought this questions to mind particularly because of the structure of the play and the character development or un-development. Dr. McCoy brought up a great example of an observatory experience, a glass-bottom boat, however I can think of many more activities that we humans, at the top of the animal kingdom, would assume to be observatory. One of these being going to an aquarium. We expect that as humans and intellectually advanced beings, we are observing the other animals through a glass, but how would things changed if we discovered that they too were observing us? I think this idea comes into play even more in the setting of a zoo. Whenever I hear stories of zoo animals attacking visitors at the zoo, I can’t help but feel a dark humor towards the irony of the situation. It’s as if visitors of the zoo thought it to be impossible and far-fetched that the animals escape and terrorize the zoo, something I always consider to be a possibility.
Going back to Imperceptible Mutabilities and the words of my father, I pose the question again of whether any reality can solely be observed from the outside. In the story we see that Dr. Lutzky, who is supposed to be studying the subjects who are living among the roaches, eventually becomes engulfed in the hysteria that is going inside of the apartment. I would reference some quotes from the play to demonstrate the progression of the Dr.’s hysteria but there is so much unfolding in that scene (much to the strategy of Parks) that I wouldn’t know where to start. The main point that I derived from this scene was that by being amongst the hysteria that was only getting worse since the beginning of the play, the Dr. could no longer remain the neutral “observer” that he intended to be. This brings me to the point of the saying that my father used to say all the time. “Michee, you can’t serve two gods.” I specifically remember him saying this in relation to me wanting to hang out with my cousins who were raised in conditions much different from mine. He told me that eventually my environment would consume me and I would no longer be able to switch gears and get back on track. I noticed this was true because of the way that I spoke when in the presence of my cousins and their friends; my grammar was incorrect and my writing reflected this change.
This also reminds me of our reading from the beginning of the year by Bernice Johnson Reagon, “Nobody Knows the Troubles I See.” She talks about belonging to different identities and in between two worlds. I relate this to my existing in one world as an observer of my cousins, and “belonging” to another that aligns more with what my dad would promote. Is it possible to observe anything from the outside without being consumed by it? I think Suzan Lori Parks is onto something with the development of her plot in Imperceptible Mutabilities. I leave you with this quote from Dr. McCoy, “Mutato Nomine De Te Fabula Narratur” which means, with the name changed the story applies to you…