On Geophagia

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.”

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Is Hoa a Stone Eater?

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.

 

Why Am I “Here”?

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”.  Someone made the comment (and I apologize, I can’t remember who said this, but if it was you please let me know so I can credit you!) 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.

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Fake News

If you’re from Dr. McCoy’s ENGL 101/431 class, go back to the time you didn’t know stone paper existed. Now imagine if someone on the street runs up to you Billy Eichner style and asks you to choose which one actually exists: stone paper or volcanic lightning. Which would you choose? Sike, it’s a trick question. Both are real and amazing! While the class easily accepted the existence of stone paper (probably because we had physical evidence), others may not be so receptive.

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The Earth is Living

During our class this past Friday, while Dr. Giorgis was providing a response to a question, he made mention that there exists a powerlessness in admitting the influence that the earth has on society.  I began to question why this was. Why was it difficult to acknowledge that the earth is a living thing separate from us as human beings?

When I say the earth is living, I mean that (as morbid as this may sound) without the influence of human beings, the planet Earth would still exist. Continue reading “The Earth is Living”

Function of Second Person Chapters

In The Fifth Season, Jemisin uses the unusual literary technique of second person point of view in her chapters focusing on Essun. Essun is an orogene on a journey to find her daughter, who has been kidnapped by her husband after he murders her son. At first, I found the second person point of view to be off-putting: the only other time I can remember encountering it was when reading the Choose Your Own Adventure series when I was in middle school, and I never enjoyed those books. However, after the first few pages of the first chapter I began to appreciate the use of a second person narrator. I think the obvious function of the “you” is to emphasize Essun’s dissociation from herself after the trauma of finding her son’s dead body and realization that her daughter is missing. The chapter begins with “You are she. She is you. You are Essun. Remember? The woman whose son is dead” (Jemisin 15). With this opening line, the reader immediately feels Essun’s disconnection with her own body, while at the same time forming a connection with Essun’s feelings. The use of “you” in a sense places the reader in Essun’s body while she is detached from her own. The reader feels Essun’s trancelike, traumatized state as Jemisin writes, “You sleep a long time. At one point you wake… You puzzle over this, then feel the imminence of thought and have to fight, fight, fight, to stay in the soft warm silence of thoughtlessness” (18). In the days following her son’s death, Essun is capable of doing little more than sleeping and suppressing her thoughts. Jemisin’s use of second person becomes a powerful tool to allow the reader to experience and empathize with her suffering. Continue reading “Function of Second Person Chapters”

Blue Eyes as a Bad Omen

In The Fifth Season, Jemison creates an alternate reality where Father Earth is desperately trying to purge himself of humanity through the use of people with geological powers. Something that I found interesting about this reality is that light blue eyes are a bad omen. Damaya, a young girl who discovers she has these abilities after using them on a classmate who threatened her. Her parents hide her and submit her to the guardians. When she first meets her guardian she reflects that, “she heard of eyes like these, which are called icewhite in stories and stonelore. They’re rare, and always an ill omen.” (29). This is interesting detail for several reasons. First being that today, light eyes—specifically blue eyes– are perceived as desirable. Transforming them into a bad omen defamiliarizes their desirability to the reader. When putting this detail into a historical context, it makes more sense to see blue eyes as a bad omen. Europeans are more likely to have light eyes, and are known for colonizing most of the world. Did the people colonized by Europeans see blue eyes as a bad omen? Blue eyes are also a bad omen when referencing the Holocaust because they were an identifying factor of the aryan race. Hitler viewed light eyes as superior to dark eyes, and many people who did not have this attribute were slaughtered. This leads to me think that Jemison made light eyes an “ill omen” purposefully to shine light on this history. Today, light eyes exist both as an unattainable beauty standard and a painful reminder of colonization for the non-European world.

Occam’s Principle Analysis

Amos Nur quotes F. Heylighen’s definition of Occam’s Principle as the practice of applying only the minimum amount of assumptions when considering possibilities. This idea is called the principle of parsimony. Ultimately it suggests that out of a given set of models for the occurrence of a phenomenon a person should choose the simplest one to draw a final conclusion. According to Nur, this principle is most commonly applied to scientific study to draw hypothesis.   Continue reading “Occam’s Principle Analysis”

Velikovsky and Ancient Civilizations: What Can We Really Know?

When reading the introduction to Apocalypse by Amos Nur, I came across the term “Veliskovskyian” for the first time. The quote in whole reads “Rose [an archaeologist] demanded that, before one can hypothesize that an earthquake destroyed a society, one must prove not only that it happened, but exactly how it happened. Without proof, he claims, such a hypothesis is no more than a Veliskovskyian-style science fiction presented in the guise of science” (Nur, 3). Essentially, Nur is paraphrasing the view of opponents to his theory that civilizations were more frequently destroyed by earthquakes and other geological events than previously thought. From context, we can extrapolate that Veliskovskyian means outlandish, but where does this term come from?

Immanuel Velikovsky (also stylized as Veliskovsky because the conventions of the Cyrillic alphabet do not always translate well into the English one)  was a Russian author who was active during the mid to late 20th century with his most famous work, Worlds in Collision, coming out in 1950. Velikovsky’s specialty was analyzing ancient texts. Eventually, using comparisons of various ancient texts such as the Bible, he came up with a theory about our solar system and the effects of astrological events on human civilization that remains controversial to this day. 

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The Rock Thing

I’d like to start things off with some hope and motivation, along with somehow avoiding the dreaded “p” if at all possible. My first post in this instance would be the deal (insert Seinfeld quote here) with rocks during our starting class. The first thought I had was that the question McCoy shared with us was more of a trick -a metaphorical one, at that. Family, for example. Sometimes a family is referred to as a rock, a place of solidarity and origin. That, or just a heavy, profound, and sometimes rough and or vexing kind of rock. Mine may or may not be close to the latter, since I only said Igneous because it just sounds friggin’ cool.

As for the rocks, the heaviness of natural disasters (eg. hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, etc.) also came to mind, or perhaps that was just my weird mind thinking too far ahead in the syllabus, along with my still-present hope that I may actually post nine more of these things and maybe add some genuine desire into them rather than a required means to an end. All in all, I wouldn’t be surprised if family, or the foundations of solidarity may play some role in our future discussions. That, or something that may or may not blow my mind. Maybe even convincing me that Igneous doesn’t sound all that cool…possibly.

Oh, and geodes are rocks.