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[SciFiNoir Lit] Re: essay on Octavia Butler’s Kindred

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  • ravenadal
    Very well said. ~rave!
    Message 1 of 8 , Apr 29 11:58 PM
      Very well said.

      ~rave!

      --- In SciFiNoir_Lit@yahoogroups.com, Sincere <sincere1906@...> wrote:
      >
      > On Kindred...
      >
      > You know I had some of those same problems/questions with the book. But as a
      > person studying the history of slavery, I also greatly appreciated it for
      > its attempt to place someone from our time period in such a harrowing
      > situation. Her notions of herself, her dislocation in
      > time/space/environment, the physical brutality, were all part of the harsh
      > realities of the slave experience. Even the act through which she makes her
      > temporal jumps are disorienting, sickening and violent--one of them even
      > resulting in amputation, a form of punishment upon slaves.
      >
      > I didn't know what to make of her white lover, other than perhaps Butler was
      > attempting to jar the reader and make this already complex matter even more
      > so. It would be enough for someone not in such a relationship to go through
      > this experience. That's a protagonist we (black readers) all could probably
      > relate to. But one who was already in an interracial relationship, and then
      > forced to go through this trauma, that made identification with her an
      > uneven process. We're also at times left frowning at her choices, as when
      > she encourages her maternal ancestor to submit to and endure sexual
      > abuse---a seemingly selfish choice to ensure her own eventual
      > existence. It's an uncomfortable moment but like the protagonist, we exist
      > now because of this horrific event in the past; which one of us are willing
      > to alter it and erase ourselves from reality?
      >
      > I was never certain if the inherent internal conflict this would naturally
      > bring up was glossed over by Butler, or if she was purposefully silent on it
      > simply to add to the story's disorienting nature. In some sense the
      > protagonist's approach to her white ancestor, at first attempting to
      > empathize with him, I thought had to do with her own relationship with a
      > white male--a flaw in judgment that becomes readily apparent as the book
      > progresses towards its final climax. Also of course, I expect the
      > protagonist's husband was a foil to the white male ancestor who in the end
      > would attempt to rape her. They are opposites, yet both benefit from their
      > whiteness and masculinity in that society. It's telling that when the
      > protagonist is ripped back to her modern time and has to leave her husband
      > behind, she returns to find him years later. He hasn't suffered like she did
      > in only days; there was never any threat that he would have to endure the
      > lash, be shackled, etc. His experience there--even if much longer than
      > hers--was still better by far than anything she encountered.
      >
      > Sin/Black Galactus
      >
      >
      >
      > On Wed, Apr 29, 2009 at 12:09 PM, Chris Hayden <belsidus2000@...>wrote:
      >
      > >
      > >
      > > I don't think it is one of her best (I nominate the "Parable" duology).
      > >
      > > ***I agree***
      > >
      > > but I was more disturbed by her coming back to her white(blonde?) husband
      > > bruised and abused from her time as a slave and how it NEVER colored her
      > > relationship or made her question the "master/slave" dynamic of it, even as
      > > her neighbors began to suspect her kind and caring (aren't all of Butler's
      > > lily white heroes "kind and caring"?) or spousal abuse
      > >
      > > (I don't like the book because of this theme--
      > >
      > > I chalk much of Butler's worldview up to her living in California and
      > > suffering at the hands of other blacks who failed to comprehend her
      > > talent--but then again, she was born among people to whom a life of
      > > intellectual pursuits was but dimly imagined. Also I suppose she felt that
      > > the whites that promoted her career saved her and she felt a gratitude...)
      > >
      > > --- In SciFiNoir_Lit@yahoogroups.com <SciFiNoir_Lit%40yahoogroups.com>,
      > > "ravenadal" <ravenadal@> wrote:
      > > >
      > > > "Kindred" is a very visceral novel and, while it is one of Butler's most
      > > popular (mainly because it is one of her most accessible novels - using
      > > themes most Americans are familiar with), I don't think it is one of her
      > > best (I nominate the "Parable" duology). I, too, had trouble reading it -
      > > but I was more disturbed by her coming back to her white(blonde?) husband
      > > bruised and abused from her time as a slave and how it NEVER colored her
      > > relationship or made her question the "master/slave" dynamic of it, even as
      > > her neighbors began to suspect her kind and caring (aren't all of Butler's
      > > lily white heroes "kind and caring"?) or spousal abuse.
      > > >
      > > > The paragraph below is very interesting and thought provoking. I am
      > > disheartened that nearly thirty years after Butler published "Kindred" I
      > > know it is still necessary to conceal the color of my hero for as long as
      > > possible in my novel in progress. Sad.
      > > >
      > > > ~(no)rave!
      > > >
      > > > --- In SciFiNoir_Lit@yahoogroups.com <SciFiNoir_Lit%40yahoogroups.com>,
      > > "md_moore42" <md_moore42@> wrote:
      > > > >
      > > > On this reading, I wondered if Butler had deliberately made Dana a kind
      > > of Hari Kumar, a character who is white in all but appearance who is then
      > > suddenly forced to confront the reality of being judged by that appearance
      > > and forced into a very unwelcome box by it. If that was Butler's choice—and
      > > the concealment of Dana's skin color for the first thirty pages of the book
      > > seems to be another piece of evidence for this—I wonder if she might have
      > > done it to make it an easier identification for white readers, not to stir
      > > up present day issues but to get right to what she wanted to talk about.
      > > > >
      > > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      >
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
    • Chris Hayden
      (That was cool. That took a lot of class. I saw Amiri Baraka do the same thing at Washington University here. They had him speak. Then they had a private
      Message 2 of 8 , May 2, 2009
        (That was cool. That took a lot of class.

        I saw Amiri Baraka do the same thing at Washington University here. They had him speak. Then they had a private dinner in a fine dining room on campus afterward for Baraka and a couple dozen swells.

        Washington University, by the way has a reputation as a liberal bastion but it is a snobbish, early 20th century type of liberalism.

        When Baraka found out that "the people" were not invited he refused to even go. The Wash U swells were upset and, to my knowledge, have not had him back.)

        --- In SciFiNoir_Lit@yahoogroups.com, Sincere <sincere1906@...> wrote:
        >
        > As an aside, I was an at academic conference in 2007 and (as usual) someone
        > always does a panel on Octavia Butler. There was a story by a black woman
        > who claimed she found out Butler was invited to speak at a dinner by a group
        > of white women (professionals, educators or something). Not part of the
        > group but a fan of Butler, she called them and asked how she could help.
        > They said she could go pick up Butler from the airport. She gladly did this,
        > and she and Butler spent a long time together talking, enjoying each other's
        > company, etc. When the time came to deliver Butler at the engagement, the
        > author was suprised to find out that her volunteer driver had not been
        > invited to the dinner. Butler said nothing to this but went ahead and did
        > the engagement. Later the black woman would find out that to the white
        > women's dismay, Butler spoke as requested, but would not eat a morself of
        > food--all quite expensive--they had prepared for her. They fretted that they
        > had done something wrong and wondered if she was upset. I can't recall how
        > (either Butler corresp. with her or spoke openly to her hosts), but the
        > black woman eventually learns that Butler refused to eat anything that her
        > guests provided, since they did not have the good graces to invite her
        > volunteer driver as well.
        >
        > Probably not telling this story well as I don't recall every fact, but the
        > gist is that the black woman after all these years remembered this quiet bit
        > of Butler's racial feminist solidarity and was forever moved by it. Perhaps
        > that little moment reflected how she approached such things.
        >
        > Sin/Black Galactus
        >
        > On Wed, Apr 29, 2009 at 12:09 PM, Chris Hayden <belsidus2000@...>wrote:
        >
        > >
        > >
        > > I don't think it is one of her best (I nominate the "Parable" duology).
        > >
        > > ***I agree***
        > >
        > > but I was more disturbed by her coming back to her white(blonde?) husband
        > > bruised and abused from her time as a slave and how it NEVER colored her
        > > relationship or made her question the "master/slave" dynamic of it, even as
        > > her neighbors began to suspect her kind and caring (aren't all of Butler's
        > > lily white heroes "kind and caring"?) or spousal abuse
        > >
        > > (I don't like the book because of this theme--
        > >
        > > I chalk much of Butler's worldview up to her living in California and
        > > suffering at the hands of other blacks who failed to comprehend her
        > > talent--but then again, she was born among people to whom a life of
        > > intellectual pursuits was but dimly imagined. Also I suppose she felt that
        > > the whites that promoted her career saved her and she felt a gratitude...)
        > >
        > > --- In SciFiNoir_Lit@yahoogroups.com <SciFiNoir_Lit%40yahoogroups.com>,
        > > "ravenadal" <ravenadal@> wrote:
        > > >
        > > > "Kindred" is a very visceral novel and, while it is one of Butler's most
        > > popular (mainly because it is one of her most accessible novels - using
        > > themes most Americans are familiar with), I don't think it is one of her
        > > best (I nominate the "Parable" duology). I, too, had trouble reading it -
        > > but I was more disturbed by her coming back to her white(blonde?) husband
        > > bruised and abused from her time as a slave and how it NEVER colored her
        > > relationship or made her question the "master/slave" dynamic of it, even as
        > > her neighbors began to suspect her kind and caring (aren't all of Butler's
        > > lily white heroes "kind and caring"?) or spousal abuse.
        > > >
        > > > The paragraph below is very interesting and thought provoking. I am
        > > disheartened that nearly thirty years after Butler published "Kindred" I
        > > know it is still necessary to conceal the color of my hero for as long as
        > > possible in my novel in progress. Sad.
        > > >
        > > > ~(no)rave!
        > > >
        > > > --- In SciFiNoir_Lit@yahoogroups.com <SciFiNoir_Lit%40yahoogroups.com>,
        > > "md_moore42" <md_moore42@> wrote:
        > > > >
        > > > On this reading, I wondered if Butler had deliberately made Dana a kind
        > > of Hari Kumar, a character who is white in all but appearance who is then
        > > suddenly forced to confront the reality of being judged by that appearance
        > > and forced into a very unwelcome box by it. If that was Butler's choice—and
        > > the concealment of Dana's skin color for the first thirty pages of the book
        > > seems to be another piece of evidence for this—I wonder if she might have
        > > done it to make it an easier identification for white readers, not to stir
        > > up present day issues but to get right to what she wanted to talk about.
        > > > >
        > > >
        > >
        > >
        > >
        >
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
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