The Importance of Perspective Taking in Literature

In our smaller group discussions last class, Sami brought up this really interesting phenomenon where individuals are more likely to be empathetic and sympathetic in their everyday life if they are avid readers. According to Sami, because most readers are putting themselves into the mindsets of the characters in novel, they are better skilled at that in real interactions. Reading novels allows a person to walk in anther’s shoes, understand events from another’s perspective, and empathize with characters. This really got me thinking about the regime of the visual. I question whether a reader is more likely to empathize with characters because it is their own visualization of said characters. For example, has anyone ever been frustrated with a film adaptation of a book because its not how YOU imagined how the character would look and act like. I think Octavia Butler tricks us with this very human tendency. Many other classmates Continue reading “The Importance of Perspective Taking in Literature”

The Backfire Effect

The last class before we left  for Thanksgiving Professor McCoy played a podcast for us about how to convince someone of something while avoiding the backfire effect. At the time I had no idea how ideal the timing of this podcast would be. Thanksgiving for my family means my mom’s entire side of the family gathering in a tiny house, chatting with each other all while stuffing our faces with turkey and mashed potatoes. Everybody always warns that during the holidays “Don’t talk about politics”.  While I safely avoided the discussion of politics with relatives I did not avoid a Thanksgiving dispute about gun control. My aunt’s husband is a corrections officer so everyday he works with a gun strapped onto his belt. He also, by choice, carries an off-duty pistol when he is not working. This is what ultimately started the discussion. My mom asked him “is that a gun clipped to your belt”. I was standing right next to her so naturally I turned to hear his response. Him and my mom had a brief discussion about why he was carrying it. Then, I got involved. The overview of my conversation was my uncle and I arguing over if carrying a pistol in public should be legal in New York. The conversation ended up being an unfortunate example of the backfire effect.  Continue reading “The Backfire Effect”

The Sullivan Principles

Today, in my International Business class, we talked about Leon Sullivan.  Sullivan was also discussed in a podcast regarding the international principles he established. The Sullivan Principles were initially established in 1977 to prevent international companies from participating in business with South Africa if apartheid was still practiced. Continue reading “The Sullivan Principles”

Wounds That Never Heal: Regret

Chronic wounds are wounds that take more than three months to heal or years to heal. Sometimes, these wounds never heal. They scab over, open while oozing fluids, exerting pain with external contact. The Family Health Team (2015) assert that “while cancer can sometimes present as a chronic wound, chronic wounds typically fall into three main categories: diabetic ulcers, venous leg ulcers and pressure ulcers”. Diabetic patients with compromised immune systems might require amputations in the cases of chronic wounds and gangrene complications. These injuries might cause infections and even tissue death which can cause life threatening complications.  However, what about wounds that are not physical but hurt all the same or even more?  In his book, Discourse on Colonialism, Aime Cesaire likens gangrene to colonialism. A wound inflicted on Africa causing the death of culture, people and civilisations. The vulnerability is in the ” the nakedness of Africa where the scythe of Death swings wide”. (Aime Cesaire,1939. )The dismantling of heritage and traditions came with the advent of religion and conquest. On one hand,  the colonial masters gave religion and, with the other hand they took the essence of a naive people. Continents brought to their knees amid the throes of vain conquistador ambitions. Albeit separated by the Atlantic sea; the Americas and Africa would never be the same. What-ifs abound and in the midst of it lies regret, pain and longing lurking in the shadows. Colonialism inflicted wounds that would never heal across populations and regret inflicts wounds that would never heal across mindsets.

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Looking in the Mirror in Want for Freedom

In Molly Bawn (1878), Author Margaret Hungerford reiterates that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Beauty is subjective? Does beauty truly depend on perception? If so, why are there beauty standards all over the world? The absurd notion that every woman needs to fit into culturally idealized/idolized looks as championed by society to be considered beautiful. In some parts of the world where women’s rights are abused,  the most important possession a woman can have is her body. Young women suffer from body shaming, body image disorders among others because they feel they are not good enough, pretty enough. We are constantly stuck in a limbo of either looking in the mirror in search of confirmations or looking in the mirror in search of freedom. Indeed, if beauty is what I make of it and what I project to the world. I hope the looking glass can confirm this.

On May 15, 2011, Satoshi Kanazawa published a controversial article on physical attractiveness in relation to race. The article titled ” A Look At the Hard Truths about Human Nature” sought to explain why black women are considered to be ugly compared to other women. The Scientific Fundamentalist shamelessly carried the article under the headline “Why Black Women Are Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women”. I read this article and was appalled by the blatant racism. Kanazawa, an evolutionary psychologist at the London School of Economics says that “the only thing [he] can think of that might potentially explain the lower average level of physical attractiveness among black women is testosterone” In other words, the higher levels of testosterone in black women made them appear to be more masculine and therefore less physically attractive. Unbelievable. This piece of pseudoscience empowers ignorance and can be used to reduce the self-esteem of millions of black girls all over the world.  Whereas, it exists only as another fictional narrative like the concept of race.

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“Free Will” Part 2

Earlier in the year, I had made a blog post in relation the concept of free-will. I evaluated this concept through Butler’s work, “Fledgling”, but now, I want to look at it through “Dawn”. This is not to say that the other two parts of the Lilith’s Brood trilogy are unimportant, but that I feel that this question is best analyzed through the first book. I would like to say that this is all based on my own personal thoughts and not based in some book I read. However, I did state in my previous post that biased knowledge can change perspective; therefore anything I have read could have led me to this conclusion. Regardless, this post is not intentionally based on anyone else’s work and is just my thoughts on the matter. Continue reading ““Free Will” Part 2″

Superorganism: Microbes or Humans

“Whose house is this? /Whose night keeps out the light in here?/ Say, who owns this house?/ It’s not mine./ I dreamed another, sweeter, brighter/ with a view of lakes crossed in painted boats;/ of fields wide as arms open for me. /This house is strange. Its shadows lie. Say, tell me, why does its lock fit my key? – Toni Morrison, Home. 

The human microbiome contains vast number of micro organisms residing in our bodies in complex relationships. According to Sherwood & Woolverton (2013), the human microbiome refers specifically to the collective genomes of resident microorganisms. These relationships can take the form of symbiosis including commensalism, mutualism or even parasitism. Commensals are organisms which reside in a host body not causing harm but not adding benefit either. Rather, these organisms do all the benefiting. Mutualists organisms give us benefits while also receiving benefits. The parasitic ones are the most dangerous capable of threatening our very lives much like a brain eating Amoeba. Yikes! However, if like Michael Pollan, New York times asserts that we are made up of 10 percent human,  then the 90% of the organisms within us are the majority. We never gave our consent to these millions of microorganisms living with us yet we need some of them. The questions in the opening passage of “Home” resounds clearly in my mind, “whose house is this? Whose night keeps out the light in here?/say who owns this house”.  Even as Philosophers like Socrates, Aristotle have likened our bodies to be temporary houses that we shed as we pass away from this life, our bodies are important to us! These numbers of organisms that cohabit in our house, some paying rent like e coli that helps to break down and digest the food we eat. Some that live in the attic quiet like the commensal flora and fauna that feed on dead skin cells. While others weaken our body in a bid to become master of the house like protozoans.  Say who owns this house?

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