Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Rest in Peace Octavia E. Butler 6/22/1947-2/26/2006

My all time favorite science fiction writer Octavia E .Butler passed away on Sunday. As I mourn her death, I celebrate what she has given to life. A Washington Post reviewer once described her as:

"A master storyteller who casts an unflinching eye on racism, sexism,
poverty, and ignorance and let’s the reader see the terror and the beauty of
human nature."

She did more than just write. She sounded the alarm regarding our enslavement and offered hope for freedom. She did it through her writings by examining the past and predicting the future of our reality. Those dark and ugly realities in her novels are present in our society now. Through her work we see how chaos is born from both the human and the alien or "other's" craving for control. The hope she offers isn't a watered down 'just believe in god and you'll be saved' kind of hope. It was always about the use of knowledge, which could only be gained by the will, intelligence and empathy of her heroines. This use allowed them to save themselves and others.

I suspect her main characters were always women because of an allusion to esoteric ideas regarding the feminine's direct connection to the creative aspect of the universe. They suffered yes, because as another of my favorite writers often talke about; conscious suffering has a place. Her characters also brought much to life in their creativity of thought and action. Many of us living in America suffer unconsciously. This not only cut us off from the creative life affirming aspect of existence, but through our choice of action or inaction allows for much death and suffering of others. Why? because there are always pathocrats willing to exploit our sleeping state. Octavia never shied away from presenting in the raw what her characters were up against in a pathocratic society. The terror of the situation can either wake you up or leave you like a deer caught in the headlights. Her characters never took the deer route even when they were as terrified as we are now.

I need not go on and on about her writings. I have previously reviewed her Parables series in terms of our enslaved status in USA and the world on this blog but the entire Butlerian oeuvre is worth reading. What I really wanted to say here is that she was well aware that her writings were a wake up call for unconscious sufferers. In one of her last interviews she spoke with Democracy Now's Amy Goodman about her work. She explains:

"I wrote the two Parable books back in the 1990s. And they are books about,
as I said, what happens because we don't trouble to correct some of the problems
that we're brewing for ourselves right now."

"I had been doing the two Parable books -- Parable of the Sower and Parable of the
Talents -- and they were what I call cautionary tales: If we keep misbehaving
ourselves, ignoring what we've been ignoring, doing what we've been doing to the
environment, for instance, here's what we're liable to wind up with"

She was eerily prescient because what we wind up with is here; War with Iran, Israel Marching, Civil War in Iraq, Life in the US, Internment camps and General Madness. My hope is that enough of us have the perspicacity of Octavia E. Butler's characters. It is the only way we will survive. First though, enough of us need to become conscious and her novels were dedicated to making us conscious. May she rest in peace.

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