By reading and working through the epigraphs it really helps me to set some goals and critical questions that I would like to work through. My desire to improve my writing and the way I think critically is an aspiration of mine through this course as Octavia Butler’s writing is unique and different from the other pieces of works I have read. I would like to work through the question of how can I put aside my assumptions about the characters and plots aside, whilst reading, to better understand Butler’s writing style? Why do I feel connected or disconnected to the topics that Butler brings up in her novels? How can I improve the concepts and skills that I already feel as though are satisfactory?
The action of physically planting a seed can be connected to how an individual plants a seed metaphorically in order to grow and develop their skills and abilities. By making that initial decision to want to grow in a new area or an area that you already have some footing in, you are setting yourself up for being a well-rounded and more informed person. In the epigraph of her book, Imago, Butler writes “I prepared the seed to go into the ground. I gave it a thick, nutritious coating, then brought it out of my body through my right sensory hand.” The “seed” that she emphasizes can be connected to when someone makes the intention to learn about a topic that they do not have the fullest understanding of. In regard to myself, I know that there are many topics, skills, cultures, events, etc. that I do not have the full understanding of. I may have received a small lesson on it through conversations with others, or through reading a text about it online or through hearing a conversation but I know for a fact that I am not as educated on certain aspects as I am on others. However, even though I am educated on certain topics or have an understanding of a skill, I do not stop there. I yearn to continuously learn about everything that has to do with what I already know. In the event that, I just stop at knowing the basics and being satisfied with what I know, then I am stopping myself from growing and prospering. Ultimately, I would be failing myself. For instance, I grew up bilingual as my ethnicity is Bengali, but my nationality is American. Being exposed to two different languages at once and speaking one at home versus one at school meant that I cannot fully comprehend certain tenses, conjugations or words in the Bangla language, which is considered to be my mother tongue. Bengalis take a lot of pride in our language as it is the very reason we started a liberation war which ultimately led to our country gaining independence from Pakistan. We wanted to have the freedom to speak our language, our cultures and traditions without being killed, assaulted or having our land burned down. Additionally, my maternal grandfather was a Major in the war and he dedicated his life so that his people can practice our language freely. With all of this in mind, I started a habit of wanting to fully comprehend and speak Bangla so that I can use all of the correct verb tenses, conjugations and understand all of the words.
Furthermore, I believe that the “thick nutritious coating” can be connected to the individual watering the seed with research, questions and the intention of dedicating their time and energy to expanding their knowledge of the certain topic or skill. In spite of the fact that I can speak Bangla at a standard that considers me bilingual, I wanted to make it a habit of speaking and learning it so that I am better educated and can benefit in terms of better communicating with others who are from different regions of Bangladesh. This goes hand in hand with Butler epigraph where she states, “Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not… Habit is persistence in practice… Habit is more dependable than inspiration, continued learning is more dependable than talent.” Habit is an outcome of practice which means that it is something you do a lot of until it becomes a habit. Meanwhile, talent can be argued as luck and yes it is possible to develop talent but if an individual has talent then it is more likely that they will not be as driven to do the best work and improve their art, thus the individual will not be showcasing their best work. By means of relying on inspiration, I would have to wait a long time for a lightbulb to go off rather than just getting started and continuing to learn along the journey. At the end of the day, I believe that time is valuable and that if I can dedicate my time to growing my knowledge then I would do that than just sit around and wait for inspiration to hit me. Had I waited for myself to be inspired by how others speak Bangla perfectly or other’s skills, then I would not be as motivated and would have been waiting a long time. Thus, to give my seed a “nutritious coating,” I watch videos online about how to correctly conjugate verbs and tenses in Bangla and use an app that translates words in English to Bangla. Additionally, I have found that watching television shows or movies in Bangla, allows me to comprehend the language more. I feel as though my experience is similar to Lilith’s when she decides she wants to learn the Oankali language, as she practices and listens carefully to how they speak.
Additionally, inspiration can die out as quickly as it strikes, and relying on talent is not dependable as Butler argues in “Furor Scribendi.” The concept of inspiration dying out is emphasized with the character Tate Marah in Dawn. Butler writes, “her real problem seemed to be that she did things so well that she quickly became bored. Or she did them so badly that she abandoned them before anyone noticed her incompetence (124).” The idea of fear takes over the drive for inspiration or the need to show off one’s talent. Tate Marah’s characteristic of giving up so that others do not see that she is “incompetent,” is connected to Butler’s point, in her epigraph, that “continued learning is more dependable than talent.” Giving up when I feel like my talent is as “good” as I want it to be, is essentially holding myself back from reaching my full potential. The process of learning is all about making mistakes and taking the time to reach your full potential. Even when I feel as though I have reached my full potential in a skill or topic, I try not to settle for it but rather push myself to keep learning more.