Pheromones are cool!

I have been interested in writing this post for a while now, but life has gotten the best of me. However, I am still interested in looking further into the idea of pheromones. This is in relation to Imago, and I’m hoping to debunk the concept that they might be creepy or predatory.

Here is what interesting information I have found from the Smithsonian’s website :

  • In one study, after having females watch a sad movie in which they cried, scientists collected the tears and placed them, unidentified, under the noses of men. The men’s sexual arousal levels and testosterone levels were reduced. This shows that people subconsciously discover things other than just body odor from the way that someone smells.

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The Art of Reflection through “Bloodchild”

Knowing that the end was near, I tried today to make sense of this semester’s work in what I think was the most effective way. I reread “Bloodchild.” I have heard it echoed across the blog and in the classroom that in order to make sense of what we were doing at any point, there always seemed to be value in recalling “Bloodchild.” So, I began to wonder what it was about Butler’s short story that stood out to me as emblematic of the class. Continue reading “The Art of Reflection through “Bloodchild””

What about slavery?

Toward the beginning of the class, Dr. McCoy mentioned how some people think Butler is writing about slavery in her novels, but Butler asserted that she’s not. Slavery never really came up in more than passing mention during our discussions about Butler’s novels, and without giving away too much about our final project, it definitely was not something in Butler’s works we felt needed to be addressed. This is interesting (possibly to no one but me) because my first impression of Octavia Butler’s writing, specifically Xenogenesis—now known as Lilith’s Brood, was that it was quite blatantly about slavery.

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Phenylethylamine: The Chemical Composition of Love

For all my fellow romantics, this one’s for you. Featuring Octavia Butler’s Clay’s Ark and Anastasia: The New Broadway Musical 

Phenylethylamine [phe·nyl·eth·yl·amine]

It’s the reason why we get butterflies in our stomach when we think of our significant others. It’s the reason why we feel nostalgic when we leave our homes. It’s what every Disney princess sings about (except Moana). It is the feeling of euphoria. And it is the answer to the question that Stephen asks Rane after her refusal to love a child that will look like Jacob, it is the chemical composition of love.

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Does anyone truly have autonomy?

I, too, like Sandra, was struck by Katie’s post. It got me to thinking whether any of us are really truly autonomous. I would have to say no.

I consider myself to be very self sufficient–I pay for college by myself, I pay rent out of my own pocket every month, I pay for groceries without help from my family, and I even sometimes treat myself to a few new articles of clothing (not without justifying it first: “I’m entering the working world soon! I need nice clothes!”) or a concert ticket. However, I am also bound to this system of autonomy–doesn’t that make me immediately not autonomous? I am not free to do whatever I want with my belongings, or money, or life, really. I am bound to the system. I need to do well in school, because if I don’t, I will have wasted the money I worked so hard to get so that I could attend college. Still, not everyone is this lucky.

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This Is Why We CAN Have Nice Things

We all do things we don’t like. It’s a fact of life at this point. Consent under duress, if you will. But it’s also something that has cropped up during this community effort to create a cohesive document. It is clear, at times, that there is discontent. It would be naïve to think that there wouldn’t be discontent. But simply because we are brought together by a need to do something, does not mean that people cannot and will not divide over the same thing that brings them together. Have we grown from this exercise? Probably. Have we accomplished something? We succeeded in putting a document together. Are all of us happy 100% with it? Probably not. But my philosophy has always been this: you need to do what you need to do, you do what you need to do, and then when you have finished doing that, you do everything else that you have to do, without attentive regard of the individual’s level of content. To clarify the latter part of that last statement, we cannot always consider the individual needs of each and every individual per group. It is infeasible to think that anything could get done that way. And this is why we can have nice things – because typically we do what we have to do, not always what we want to do, and doing what we have to do does not always constitute doing what we want to do.

The Risk of Working With Partners

“There is risk in working with a partner,” is probably the Butler quote that has been brought up most often in our class, but it’s amazing how it continues to be so relevant. The part of this class that I have come to admire most is how everything relates back to each other. Like we’ll read Locke or Rousseau and make it relevant to the Clay’s Ark commune. This quote has been in the front of my mind lately as we’ve been working on our final project. And it’s occurred to me that this has been the plan since the beginning.

Although the main goal of this class is analyzing what brings and binds us together, we’ve never let that quote get too far away from us and our discussions. Through almost every book we’ve read we’ve found a way to make it relevant. I think it was Veronica who said once, when we were in a cluster group, that she relates all of the work we read back to Bloodchild, which is a testament as how we’ve come to use Bloodchild as our frame of reference. For me, after reading Bloodchild, I viewed relationships in Butler’s fiction through a special lens because of the implications that were instilled in me from this quote. Everytime Butler introduced to a relationship I assumed would be important, for example Blake and his family, and Eli, I would greet it with caution because I understood the risk involved.

For this final project we’ve had to negotiate with not one but about 20 partners. There is high risk here because we’re all relying on each other for our final grade. I know at least for myself this has been different than any kind of final project I have ever done, but I feel like I’ve already taken away so much from it. It’s helped me understand what it must be like to work in government. The constant deliberation over what could be simple decisions because everyone’s opinion is different. If you asked all of us individually how we wanted to do this project I’m sure you’d get 20 different answers. Sure maybe some would be similar, but none would be exactly the same. It’s been a real lesson in compromise I think. And that’s part of the risk, when working with a partner there is always the possibility that you won’t get what you want. What we want is rarely what someone else wants, especially if it’s important to every party.

We have come so far though, as a class and as a community. I think we’ve become much more comfortable with compromise. Because while there is risk in working with a partner, if everyone puts their faith in each other, there is the possibility of high reward.

Thinking Out Loud: Questions for Clay’s Ark and Genetics

While reading Octavia Butler’s “Clay’s Ark,” I couldn’t help but think of how Butler hints at some type of genetic engineering in her text. My mind was constantly going back in forth between Keira’s cancer, acute myeloblastic leukemia (460), and the epidemic that Eli brought down to Earth (480). It appears that this epidemic heightens the senses of humans and allows the human body to mend itself from most damage it comes across. Keira’s cancer has the opposite effect. Her body is slowly deteriorating and there has been no luck in curing Continue reading “Thinking Out Loud: Questions for Clay’s Ark and Genetics”