Octavia Butler Unlocking Intuition as Technology: Part 2
Updated: Sep 19, 2022
Photo Cred: Dorothy Attakora-Gyan
This blog talks about how in using Octavia Butler's fictional texts, I can ask: solidarity where; across what time and space; in which dimension and realm; how far we are willing to go for solidarity? For part 1 check out Octavia Butler Unlocking Intuition as Technology: Part 1. YouTube video and Soundcloud audio available.
Intuition and telepathy can serve as a counter technology. To us McKittrick, here, “freedom is a secret”. McKittrick writes, “geographic freedom, [is] an unknown “spatialization of secrecy” that is enacted outside white supremacist cartographic rules” (McKittrick, 2007: 104). I love this.
Learning to access subtle energy, universal consciousness, other people, animals, plants, water, the Akashic files[i], Skyworld/Otherworld/Underworld[ii], or inanimate objects is revolutionary in the same way that Audre Lorde found poetry revolutionary. Lorde (1984) expressed, “of all the art forms, poetry is the most economical. Poetry has been the major voice of poor, working-class, and women of colour” (116). Intuition is easy to access for those already limited in mobility, resources, and capital. It costs very little to access telepathy and intuition (although they can be costly to fine-tune). Like poetry, they are more easily accessible to low-income Black and other communities of colour. As well as those living with disabilities, granted that they have the ability and capacity to embody and decode the information. In this way, telepathic solidarity can be exclusionary and even, ableist. However, just as online activism can be more accessible for some, it simultaneously allows more disabled folks to engage. A contradiction in itself.
Presenting telepathic solidarity as an option does not mean that for those who are able to, we no longer continue to engage in traditional forms of solidarity. In fact, without conventional forms of solidarity, there cannot be telepathic solidarity. Telepathic solidarity does not stand alone. Action is required and needs to be taken. Strategic plans need to continue to be put in place. And we still require traditional forms of solidarity such as redistribution of wealth, petitions, protests, campaigns, the continued push for new legislature, and policy changes that liberate more people.
Emotional support will go a long way, but it is not the only, or perhaps even always the best way. Saying that we “prayed for,” sent someone “positive energy,” and “love and light,” or that we “held space for them” when they are in times of crisis is cruel, especially when they require interdependent assistance, material, and physical resources, or basic needs to be met such as food, shelter, water, emotional support, or in some cases, air. While all are acts of solidarity, the level of impact and labour put in differ. The obvious preference being for articulations which yield tangible results that free people in socio-cultural and political terms across social, physical, economic, spiritual, and psychic fields, not just psychic alone.
Intuition and telepathy will not save us (although for many including myself, it has in different instances). Nor will it rectify all of our problems (although it will help us to manage and navigate them). It is not a replacement for therapy, medication, or other medical interventions necessary for those living with mental illness of some sort. It will not cure any disabilities, nor is it an alternative form to the myth of meritocracy whereby the individual is blamed for not having built their intuition up enough to free themselves. As queer theorist, J. Halberstam writes, “The notion that social change can come about through adjustments to the self, through a focus on interiority without a concomitant attention to social, political, and economic relations, can be a disastrous tactic” (224). I cannot underscore this enough and I would be remised to note that this added labour in negotiating energy shifts the bulk of the work to those already inundated with excessive labour (and in every sense of the word), and for little to no pay. This neoliberal intervention that places the onus on oppressed communities to save themselves is not lost on me.
In any case, like Lynn and Beatrice, or even Lauren Olamina, these Black neurodivergent feminists teach us that in becoming more knowledgeable about shame, we can learn to decode some of its data that raise feminist consciousness. Thereby reconstructing alternative feminist futures that are attentive to emotions and what they do to us.
There’s so much more to say on this topic, and even more research and learning to do before I can conceptualize it how I imagine. More to come, maybe, part 3? But for now, these are some of the different ways I’m working with Octavia Butler to make sense of the Future of Emotions.
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Until next time, in solidarity.
Notes [i] The Akashic record is defined by Okawa (2013) as: “the complete archive of the world’s history kept in the spirit world” (160). For Okawa (2013), these files “offer a brief account of the major civilizations of the last million years, starting with Garna” (160). According to Mauro (2015) “The Akashic Records, are understood in esoteric thoughts as the complete history of each human being, can be found in the fifth-dimensional world” (23). [ii] “The Skyworld is a stage on which the players and events of cosmic ordering are made visible, while the Underworld stage leaves them hidden from view. Like the Middleworld, these worlds are alive and are sources of sacred power for the shaman” (Stross, 2006:38)