octavia butler



has anyone cataloged the different kinds of apocalyptic texts.  i can’t remember ever reading a critical work that didn’t use the idea of an apocalypse vaguely, as though if you just say the word everyone understands, “the ending of the world” but not in what sense “the world” is being interpreted. the greek interpretation of “apocalypse” means an “unveiling” or “revelation.”  combining this with a more contemporary idea of apocalypse, wherein civilization ends by an unveiling of reliance on certain technology, it becomes easier to define.  so to me then, it seems important when writing about a book that idealizes the apocalypse, to give a type to this version of it, one based on how it operates in the book.  i like apocalyptic writing if it unveils my sense of order, a claim i return to later with SCORCH ATLAS.  if i am remembering an octavia butler book correctly, PARABLE OF THE SOWER i think, this apocalypse involves unveiling the government of human nature.  in the book, gated communities protect themselves internally from an unsteady outside world.  without even really getting into it, i can see that this suggests a natural inclination for humans to make groups, to use others as technology.  so in this version of the apocalypse, a technological unveiling, comes in the form of factions.  a faction suggests limited power among a greater grouping of power.  so what is unveiled is two interpretations of human nature in relation to power, two interpretations to be taken as one, as what happens when humans must face being alive.  in facing being alive, it is unveiled that you must band together.  to attack or defend.  throw in the added element of there being a girl who possesses “hyperempathy” or a greater humanity for humanity, within herself, and the unveiling of the total human emotional scale is the apocalypse, the decision to govern and how to do it.  the unavoidaility of it. 


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September 29th, 2009 / 4:20 pm