When I was reading about Lauren’s discovery of Earthseed, the idea that God is change, I was reminded of Heraclitus (c. 500 BC). Contrary to other pre-Socratic philosophers, he sought to write his philosophy in a way that was almost paradoxical such that it would lead his reader closer to enlightenment. Many of the pre-Socratics sought to pin down a particular element that captured the essence of all things. Thales thought this was water, Anaximenes thought this was air, and Anaximander thought it was something like a primordial sort of chaos (apeiron). Canonically speaking, after these three—the Milesians— came Pythagoras and his followers, and then Heraclitus of Ephesus. Heraclitus believed that change was the only constant in life. “You could not step twice into the same river” is perhaps one of his most famous quotes. Even if one steps into a river that we would usually call the same river, Heraclitus would say this river is not the same if you are stepping into it at another time. From the very first time one steps into the river to the next time, it is a different river. To Heraclitus, this is the nature of things. Similarly, he views the human condition as characterized by strife: “All things come into being through opposition and all are in flux like a river.”
Earthseed’s principles that are governed by change and returning someday to the stars—or to the ashes—reminded me of Heraclitus immediately. One point I forgot about Heraclitus until perusing the Stanford Encylopedia of Philosophy was that he believe that “that fire is the ultimate reality; all things are just manifestations of fire” (SEP). He also believes that all things come from fire and return to fire. Interestingly, this makes his view seem a bit paradoxical if he identifies the world with fire—which is one thing—while also identifying it with change, which would seem not to be able to identify the world with just one thing (the view that the world is constituted primarily by one thing is called material monism).
Analysis of Heraclitus aside, I can’t help but wonder whether Earthseed can be traced to Heraclitus as a direct influence. The parallel became all the more striking to me when I realized how prevalent fire is in Parable of the Sower. Fire destroys nearly everything Lauren owns, but when Lauren is wandering on the freeway, fire also presents the opportunity for survival by looting the resources of those killed by a fire. Fire also brings Lauren, Harry, and Zahra together with the Douglas family. Fire seems to be both threatening and tempting, and Earthseed offers the promise of “our bones [mixing] with the bones and ashes of our cities,” or to return to the stars—also a fire of its own (222). I’m not sure where this connection could take us, but it is worth thinking about the roots of Earthseed (no pun intended).
Throughout this course, something that we have discussed in depth if the idea that everything has to go somewhere. The terms buildup and pressure have become essential to this course, in the idea that our actions, and the actions of others are not meaningless but will eventually lead to something. This idea of pressure building was especially pertinent to The Big Short, where the buying and selling of subprime mortgage loans ultimately resulted in the stock market crashing, and consequentially, the housing crisis. We have discussed how even the very act of reading a novel; turning the pages and seeing how much is left, is a type of buildup. Continue reading “Unraveling in Parable of the Sower”
This will just be a quick post I promise…
I keep contemplating what Beth means when she talks about her goal every semester is to become irrelevant in class. I understand her point and agree that it is great that we are able to continue discussions on the blog and weave together so many strands of the course on our own. I’ve said it before, but I’ll reiterate how helpful I believe the blog is. This course is one that makes us think about so many important aspects of our society and meanings, many of these thoughts happen outside of class and instead of having to remember them for class we have this space to share them.
However, my issue is that Beth cannot become irrelevant, and that doesn’t only stem from my high respect for her as a professor and a person. In a class that focuses so heavily on origins, we know that it is irresponsible to forget about the past. While Beth may not need to actively contribute as often in class discussions/ on the blog, I feel that she really can’t be considered irrelevant in a class. Thanks to her syllabus, text selections, and class structures, we have been able to create a product out of this class. She could not fully prepare for where all our thoughts would go, but of course her influence was there at the start of the semester and even now! We didn’t autochthonously (I may have just made that word up, oops) come up with these thoughts and ideas. I can’t immediately think of a better word that Beth could use, but I just figured I would share those thoughts.
I do not know how to use Canvas, so here’s the link to Google Trends and the “housing crisis” query.
These thoughts are a bit delayed, but after reading over my notebook in search of blog post ideas, I was reminded that circling back always allows for more opportunities for reflection. During class last Friday, I was particularly intrigued by a comment Jes made during our discussion of the syllabus question “What is necessary for a house?” Jes detailed that she doesn’t call her apartment at school “home,” but rather reserves that for the house she shares with her family. I have noticed myself doing the same thing – referring to my apartment as “my place” or its nickname among my sorority, “The Coop” (pronounced like “coop” in “chicken coop”… origins unclear). Avoiding the word “home” seems to me an interesting phenomenon. I wonder what constitutes a place vs. a home, and for myself in particular.
Continue reading ““What is necessary for a house?”: Conflating Ideas of Home with Cleanliness”
I thought I’d share this article for those of us who were affected by our class exercise on Monday- many cities uses their infrastructure and architecture to hide homelessness, rather than combat its roots. Ever wanted to rip the arm out of the middle of an anti-sleeping bench? Ever think that the many homeless-deterring ordinances in your city just make conditions worse? Here is a group of activists getting creative.
Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler has been really striking a chord with me and it has proven itself to be quite a powerful journey for myself, and I am sure for many others in this class as well, to have embarked upon. In the section we just read, Chapters 7-12, I found myself paying particular attention to the frequent mentioning of children and bringing new life into what seems to be such a destitute, inhospitable world.
Continue reading “Children of War”
Because I think it hits the nail on the head, I want to respond to Madison’s post on the criminalization of homeless people in Sarasota, FL. Many themes we have discussed this semester appear in her post, as well as many themes that are important to Parable of the Sower. Furthermore, the way people treat each other when housing is genuinely or is constructed to be scarce is a fascinating and powerful window into human nature, which is a primary concern for us as students of the humanities.
Continue reading “The Problem With Homeless People”
We have two weeks and just three classes left in this course before we conclude the semester. Our discussions have been as numerous and varied as our reading list (from Shakespeare to Lewis to Morrison to Butler, with everything else in between). One of our central goals is to figure out how we can connect our texts to our course objectives, and furthermore, how we can apply these connections to our lives outside the course. This is a pretty universal course outcome, and pretty vague in the way I phrased it, too. What I want to focus on is what will stay with me from this course once it’s over. We talked early on in the course about why it took us until now to consider the housing crisis, to look into its causes, and to be curious about our economy. For me, I wanted to believe that the answer to this question was quick and simple: laziness. But it’s not just laziness. I think my lack of willingness to look in to the housing crisis, as well as to the more general umbrella of “bad news” and negative current events (whether they seem to directly impact me or not) is something a little more sinister. Continue reading “Looking Ahead”
A late bloomer at this point, but I guess I’m meant for it. I struggled with finding a suitable image when thinking of home back when we shared personal items. Having lived the majority of my life in an apartment building, including scheduled visits to my mother’s house every other weekend made me feel disjointed during class. Toys, posters, even clothes or furniture begin not to mean much when they come, go, or become replaced with similar devices somewhere else – one example being my brother who wanted the exact same set of toys at both of our parents’ homes. It began coincidentally with Power Rangers – it ended with Lego. This relates to class due to how tangible virtually everything can be, and how capable they are in regards to replacement or liquidation. Hell – in Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, we see an idea of what a home is in the contrasting views of James and Muriel, and how they eventually build a dream house that is a departure from what the house originally was. We see the former state of the house destroyed and built into something that feels rather hollow – not even when the walls weren’t put up yet, but with how the view of a home can be distinct. A place to live, eat, sleep, or simply just to exist. The regard for home varies on the individual, and I suppose that in itself can be worth writing about under a different setting.
Eventually, marital and financial issues affected our mother and then we were forced to gather what we could before it was to be thrown out. Keep in mind, I said a few. In the efforts to show my excuse relation to the text – anything can be bought or sold – or abandoned. Especially if your home is on mortgage (mom) or on the long-term rent (dad) for several odd years. Let’s not take into consideration for those in military families who move from place to place, natural disasters, or simply getting kicked out. I’m not only considering the property of a home, but property in general – which can relate to financial ownership (or lack thereof in regards to Inside Job or The Big Short), while also that of living property in A Mercy.
Maybe I find my idea of “home” in my journal (the item I chose) as both a shield and of extremely personal value in favor of what can be easily taken away or diminished. Maybe that’s also why I feel a similar resonance in music (cue “Isolation” by John Lennon). It was either gonna be that, or the hat I rarely go anywhere without – be it on my head or tucked within my bag. In my experience being here (e.g. on campus and apparently furthering my education), I feel more “at home” because I can certainly do, decide, and be more of myself. Maybe these aforementioned perceptions have affected the way I view the idea of a home, but it can certainly be anywhere – just as much as it can easily be torn down or unwillingly vacated from our lives.