Apr. 29th, 2011 11:15 am
[personal profile] huangtim
So this 91 year old woman has been selling 60 dollar "suicide kits"... real life Quietus?

victoriab10: (Default)
[personal profile] victoriab10
I feel like I didn't really get to explain the major points of mi argumento so...if you're feelin geeky:


I'm gonna miss you guys! Had a lot of fun this semester!
yuliana_13: (Default)
[personal profile] yuliana_13
 This is a music video by Tina Cousins who does a gorgeous cover of Sex on Fire by the Kings of Leon. Besides the good music, the video addresses sexuality of all kinds.
alothian: (teacher)
[personal profile] alothian
Since I didn't assign Rocky Horror, I thought I would blog about my impressions of watching it for the class.

It would certainly never have occurred to me to assign it... But there were a lot of fascinating correspondences with the course themes. We have the norms of reproductive futurism, cast in a dystopian light by the mock-horror framing of the opening scene in the churchyard. We have the Frankenstein narrative of science taking over reproduction, and being duly punished for it. We have Frank's seductive and monstrous figure, poised somewhere between a victim dehumanized for his anti-normative ways and the ultimate Edelman anti-human queer dealing death to those who fall for him. And, of course, we have Brad and Janet's liberation from reproductive sexual norms into a queer utopia of genderbending and corsetry.

Well, that's one way of looking at it, right?

The scenes in the kemmerhouse in the Le Guin short story are rather reminiscent of the swimming pool orgy, though she makes it all seem quite wholesome––not to mention reproductive. In class, I hope we can talk about these two texts in terms of possible strategies for imagining alternative ways of relation to reproduction, sexuality, gender and the future. Might the silly and the camp and the gratuitously sexy have something real to say to the serious themes we've been exploring throughout the course?
yuliana_13: (morning)
[personal profile] yuliana_13
 Not only is it the funniest Colbert Report in a long time, but it also addresses how society treats different sexualities and in the end, Colbert discusses cyborgs.

Interesting stuff.
alothian: (time)
[personal profile] alothian
What are we watching/reading in week 14? Nominate short videos here and try to come to a final decision for a movie by WEDNESDAY NIGHT!!
victoriab10: (Default)
[personal profile] victoriab10
I was particularly intrigued by a presentation by Lara Nichols which discussed the character of Hannibal Lector in The Silence of the Lambs-never thought I'd be able to engage with that film (actually I have never mustered up the courage to view it in its entirety) but I noticed some striking similarities to Hannibal's character to that of Satan in Milton's Paradise Lost. Satan is likewise a cunning, intelligent, sly character who declares himself free of any sort of origin in his rebellion against God and Heaven. In the same way they both refuse to live by others standards of right and wrong and it seems that Hannibal's habit of punishing those who have not recognized his sort of supremacy applies to Satan's reason for denouncing God. Satan in fact was sent to hell because he wanted to be as powerful as God, supposedly. It was interesting to also ponder the notion that both of these characters desire to think of themselves as without roots-without parents, like the religious notion that God says, "I am who am"-actually I never really understood that phrase but from what I was told it was meant to indicate that God always was and always is (probably an issue of biblical translation). It's interesting though that both of these characters' ability to reject the norms of the societies around them seems to heavily rely on the fact that they do not have parents. What are we able to do when we have no parents? No one to answer to? It seems that would completely change the standards we're meant to uphold. What do we owe our parents? (I discussed this issue at a good length in my core 499 class) Respond if you want!

The conference was so so fun! It was awesome being able to discuss the aspects of my essay immediately after presenting. I'm sure everyone who presented was great! I wish we could have a minipanel in class!
[personal profile] devonmeyer
So I was just reading the sign-up sheet and realized I was supposed to have posted to the class blog last week. Instead of posting my last week’s entry to the blog late, I figured I’d just do another blog on Ooku for this week.

The subject of my post, and the subsequent presentation that I’m going to make in-class, is prostitution.

We, in America at least, find prostitution morally disagreeable. I’m not quite sure how international and cross-cultural such a disposition is, but I know how the issue is treated here at home. I also know that prostitution in our day is not the same as the prostitution presented in Ooku. Nowadays, prostitution is almost, if not completely, for the purposes of pleasure. If a woman wanted to have a child, there are sperm banks that she can go to that don’t require her to pay a random stranger for sex. And I’m pretty sure there aren’t many men who go out looking for hookers to impregnate.

So the prostitution that we see in Ooku is quite alien, despite being an issue that we have in our own society. Now, I wonder how much moral outrage would exist in such a culture, regarding prostitution. Of course, in order to analyze this, we must go to the root: what about prostitution makes it bad? I’d personally argue that it’s the fact that women who act as prostitutes typically do not want to do it (typically being a very conservative term there)—they do it because they have to, or because somebody forces them into it, and therefore every time it occurs, it is essentially rape.

We definitely see this in Ooku, the entire reason that our protagonist enters the inner chambers is because, it seems, he’s tired of giving his body away. He does not prostitute himself—he is very giving in his bodily openness—but he’s still tired of the pressure of being a man in such a society. Therefore, the issue still presents itself: Now, however, the men are the usual victims as opposed to the women, and for completely different reasons.

The question is: what does this tell us about our own society, and the issue of prostitution that exists herein?


Apr. 7th, 2011 12:21 am
bracker: TARDIS (Default)
[personal profile] bracker
This article in the Economist lends an interesting (and highly practical) perspective of robots' potential economic role. 

The production of goods from human-made machines isn't new, but the framing of the argument is definitely interesting. 
alothian: (Default)
[personal profile] alothian
I hope you all enjoyed Children of Men!

For tomorrow, I'd like you to think about the various images of reproduction in that film and how they relate to our themes of production, dehumanization, race, gender, apocalypses, and so on. Which images spoke to you most and why?

The Edelman text will also help us think about these ideas. Edelman asks us to think about how reproduction, and the idea of an idealized Child, structures the way we think about the future. Can you identify reproductive futurism from other texts we have read/watched, from Children of Men back? What about images, characters, events that challenge it as Edelman says queerness does?

(I will be going over the Edelman in detail in class, so if the density of the prose baffles you, fear not...)
alothian: (Default)
[personal profile] alothian
I'm enjoying all the links everyone is posting!

Things got a bit tangential in class at the end this week, but I think we went in some good directions. Here is an interview with and essay by Octavia Butler that I had planned to show in class.

And here is a short article that uses Lady Gaga as a jumping-off point to a critique of biological determinism.

I'm not sure it was clear why I showed the link to Queer By Choice, in class. Since we were talking about the idea of being "Born This Way," I had hoped to give an idea of what thinking about sexuality (or, indeed, any other trait) as predetermined at birth might leave out. That's the difference between tolerance (you can't help being who you are, so we'll put up with it) and affirmation. The queer scholar Eve Sedgwick wrote about this in 1991 as part of an article about psychiatric manuals that urged parents to recognize and tolerate their gender-deviant children.
[T]he new psychiatry of gay acceptance ... not only fails to offer, but seems conceptually incapable of offering, even the slightest resistance to the wish endemic in the culture surrounding and supporting it: the wish that gay people not exist. There are many people in the worlds we inhabit, and these psychiatrists are unmistakably among them, who have a strong interest in the dignified treatment of any gay people who may happen already to exist. But the number of persons or institutions by whom the existence of gay people is treated as a precious desideratum, a needed condition of life, is small. The presiding asymmetry of value assignment between hetero and homo goes unchallenged everywhere: advice on how to help your kids turn out gay, not to mention your students, your parishioners, your therapy clients, or your military subordinates, is less ubiquitous than you might think. On the other hand, the scope of institutions whose programmatic undertaking is to prevent the development of gay people is unimaginably large.

How To Bring Your Kids Up Gay

It is still a mind-blowingly radical idea, I think (maybe you disagree?) to say that it's not only acceptable or tolerable but actually DESIRABLE––something someone might want to choose––to be outside of the dominant category, whether that means being queer or being 'abnormal' in some other way. Woman on the Edge of Time tries to imagine a world like that, and there are hints of it in other texts we've read... Do you have any other examples?

Edelman's argument, which we'll discuss this week, is also very much aimed at a world in which queer personhood is viewed in this negative way.
yuliana_13: (Default)
[personal profile] yuliana_13
I'm not arguing whether or not genetic determination exists or to what extent it may exist. Such debates can be endless without proper scientific research to support any side.

This link goes to a Nat Geo article from 2005. It addresses the question of choice when it comes to homosexuality among men and provides proof from a study. I know it's a bit dated, but I'm not aware of any studies since 2005 that disprove its claims. If anyone can find any studies done about female homosexuality, that would be great. It seems that most studies focus on the men.


The second link is a New York Times piece addressing what I mentioned about Multiple Personality Disorder and how some personalities may have physical attributes the "original" does not have (like allergies). It's a pretty lengthy article, and I admit I haven't had the time to read it in its entirety, but it begins right at the point.

bracker: TARDIS (Default)
[personal profile] bracker


I just read an NPR article that relates to the discussions we've had. 

This excerpt particularly relates to Dawn

Human beings have long conceived of the universe as a hierarchy of value, says Smith, with God at the top and inert matter at the bottom, and everything else in between. That model of the universe "doesn't make scientific sense," says Smith, but "nonetheless, for some reason, we continue to conceive of the universe in that fashion, and we relegate nonhuman creatures to a lower position" on the scale.

Dawn it.

Mar. 31st, 2011 12:13 am
victoriab10: (Default)
[personal profile] victoriab10
Finishing this novel I have to say was a quite unnerving experience. There were some parts of it that were very disturbing for me:

"It will be a thing-not human...It's inside me, and it isn't human!" (246).
Damn that's creepy. Can you imagine? Having something grow inside you that isn't yours? that isn't human?
This puts rape in a very interesting perspective-have someone, something, an alien impregnate you and consequently have to bear the alien-child. GAH!
With the perspective of Octavia Butler in mind, I feel as though this relates to how female slaves must have felt like. They were often raped by their masters and forced to bear children in order to keep the slave population growing-which seems to be a clear parallel to the situation in Dawn for Lilith. The slave master was a monster to these slavewomen, someone who had complete control over their livelihood and forced them into whatever situations they saw fit.
Giving birth to this sort of alien-child must have been an incredibly treacherous experience, seeing the child you were forced to have grow up, part you part monster.

As for the ending, I found it be not so happy...especially with regard to Lilith's perspective on the continuation of the human race:
"but they won't be human," Lilith said. "That's what matters. You can't understand, but that is what matters" (247).

I gotta agree with Lil.

More Dawn

Mar. 30th, 2011 05:00 pm
[personal profile] dcampbell
Since I just finished this book, the thing that sticks with me most about the ending is that the Oankali are suddenly fallible. I felt like the first part of the book was a lesson from the Oankali to Lilith (which relates to one of the discussion topics from last week), but in the end of the book they make a lot of mistakes. They misread human nature, resulting in Joseph's death and a lot of the chaos in the fights near the end of the book. On page 235, Nikanj mentions that one of the things they learned from this group is to show them that they're on a ship. I think that fact that the Oankali mess things up actually makes them more likable (at least from the reader's perspective, Lilith doesn't seem to happy that they let Joseph die). Then don't seem so condescending or annoyed at people when they need her help, which helps them to form literal and emotional bonds.
But still I think it's strange that Nikanj knows people still don't like them, because it says that humans will just run away once they get to Earth. They made people reliant on them to reproduce, meaning they will need to be with the Oankali rather than want to be with them. That's a pretty sneaky move by the Oankali, so in the end I still think as a species they kind of take advantage of humanity, even if they don't see themselves in that way.

On an unrelated note, page 245 has the funniest part of the book:
"Is it an unclean thing that we want, Lilith?"
"Is it an unclean thing that I have made you pregnant?"
I came very close to lolling


Mar. 23rd, 2011 06:07 pm
maltergott: (Default)
[personal profile] maltergott
So this book entertains me and worries me. Here is my word vomit:
I have so many unanswered questions...some of which i hope to learn answers to and some of which I don't know that I can. For instance...why is Lilith so special that she survived the freeze while so many others didn't? What makes her so capable to help Nkanj go through his maturing period. Also...why are writing and reading seen as such taboo topics to the Oankali? And then why is Lilith suddenly granted the gift of some replica pens and all that heavy reading material when before the Oankali were so bent on absolutely forbidding Lilith to have them? Because we're in a class centered on writing I think this question is one of the most important. It is so tied to history...perhaps the Oankali wish to rewrite history entirely. They've eliminated so many traces of past human life on earth - they destroyed many of the ruins - and seem keen to "trade" with humans so that eventually future generations will be unrecognizable blends of human and oankali features. Disturbing. But again, as posited in BG, why do humans think they deserve to survive in the first place? I keep finding myself changing how the aliens physically appear to me in the novel. I can't wrap my head around these tentacle things! But the challenge is entertaining. I definitely found myself comparing the novel to Woman on the Edge of Time...and obviously Never Let Me Go with the implied involuntary "donations" that Paul Titus and Lilith may or may not be making. Anyways...I look forward to seeing where Dawn takes me in the next parts.
alothian: (Default)
[personal profile] alothian
What connections can you make between Octavia Butler’s novel and the other texts and ideas we have been working with this semester?

Think about the conversations we’ve had about humanity and dehumanization in the light of Never Let Me Go and of real-world examples from the past and present; about the literary and political African American and black feminist traditions of thinking about apocalypse and liberation we engaged before break, a tradition in which many scholars place Butler. You can also go back earlier, to our conversations about production and reproduction, about cyborgs, and about sexuality, gender, and the family.

Here is a passage to get you started:
In a very real sense, she was an experimental animal. ... She was intended to live and reproduce, not to die. Experimental animal, parent to domestic animals? Or ... nearly extinct animal, part of a captive breeding program? Human biologists had done that before the war—-used a few captive members of an endangered species to breed more for the wild population. Was that what she was headed for? Forced artificial insemination. Surrogate motherhood? Fertility drugs and forced ‘donations’ of eggs? Implantation of unrelated fertilized eggs. Removal of children from mothers, at birth… Humans had done these things to captive breeders—all for a higher good, of course. (58)

As well as making interpretations or quoting and discussing passages, you might want to comment with a question that the text raises for you and that you would like to think about together with the class.


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