Parable Series by Octavia Butler Conversation 1: Introductions to the Parables and the “Talents” of Octavia Butler


(Katina Press) #41

I feel the same way about the video component of these interactive discussions! Having a camera pointed at my face distracts my thinking A LOT! A WHOLE LOT! I don’t think I like it, in fact!

Henceforth, if I show up for a discussion, I may decide to participate via audio only. I don’t like the idea of recording my image into this matrix, either.

It’s not at all weird, Ariadne. :slight_smile:

(john davis) #42

It takes a little practice, Katina, but after the initial awkwardness wears off it becomes as easy to discuss on video as it is to discuss at a cafe or a conference room. What is important in our study groups and other presentations, is that it is a collaborative effort and dedicated to respectful communication. Putting a human face, with a voice and gestures, into the mix adds to our expressive impact. Of course, each person has to figure out how they communicate best. I only wrote responses in the forum for the first reading group I participated in. Then I joined a call in the next group event, because there is an added degree of freedom in spoken communication that is hard to get in writing. And I actually review some of the videos to help me revisit the many places in a dialogue where I missed an opportunity to learn something. That happens a lot in the heat of the moment. Reflecting upon a group dynamic is of great interest to me. Our technology can be a great tool for engaging our social intelligences if we use it for that purpose. Each person has a rhythm and a style which can add to the aesthetics of our relationships. As I am a student of discourse analysis these videos are a gold mine.

(Maia ) #43

Wow! I’ve never heard anyone agree with me on this aspect, which might seem so retro, but listening with my eyes closed I have always found is the most powerful mode for connecting with a deeper essence of a person that comes through voice. Also, that’s where my experience has been for many years: focused listening. I tried joining a zoom group ( led by Bayo Akomolafe, Nigerian in India) with me audio only—to partial success. It was an international group and several did not have camera capacity, so I wasn’t the only one.
Thanks and good to meet you, Katina!

(Katina Press) #44

Yes. I hope to hear from you more!

(Katina Press) #45

Or destroying vital aspects of social intelligence. I’m not at all anti-innovation. Just a little old-fashioned at times.

(Maia ) #46

For me (Katina will speak for herself), it’s not about awkwardness. I read my writing in public for ten years and spoken at gatherings, it’s not that. It’s a matter of focus. Since I don’t even have the computer capacity to do the visual channel anyway…I won’t subject others to my visual absence anytime soon! I almost always listen to the audio only version of the discussion groups, since I have a slower speed connection, and once I get a glimpse, I don’t need to keep watching every move visually-- it’s the voice and rich emotional “information” inside/below, around, the words, I want to focus on. For me, the “gold” is audible, with or without the pictures.

(john davis) #47

Conversation is an art form. I love voice, too, and spent many years listening to recordings of poetry by great actors and music by great singers. Nice to close the eyes and tune in. I also like podcasts on the train, where I can enter another zone. I like to read out loud myself and do this alone or in groups. As a practical matter, I have found it is much easier to get a flow state between multiple participants in public events, when you can see the face, even in a little box, rather than looking at a blank screen, which is very alienating. I don’t pretend that a person to person exchange is happening on Youtube, ( it is always a public event,) but we do our best to keep it as natural and conversational as possible. Timing and momentum can happen if we tune into each other through what the technology offers and try to re-organize our social behaviors in this new medium of communication. It is like a cafe atmosphere, if we use that metaphor. Of course it is nothing like a real cafe! What is most important is that everyone gets a chance to speak and to listen, and this capacity is, I worry, becoming a lost art, in any medium.When I go out, which is increasingly rare, I can hardly hear anyone over the noise and loud music. Persons enter a shouting match. I much prefer to stay home. Intellectual stimulation is hard to come by in our fast food society and I am grateful whenever and wherever it occurs.

(Maia ) #48

I definitely understand the alienation by distraction/noise syndrome in our culture. I’ve been facilitating meditation and meditative speaking for so long by phone, partly due to illness, partly due to preference. I rarely go out either, for my own reasons and the ones you list. I would undoubtedly make my way physically to a physical cafe if the discussion might be as stimulating as most are here. I’ll tell you the place I find that fairly often–at a houseless/low income community meal (2 hours or so), number of people varies, but it’s all outside in a small park under the oak trees, we can group up however we like, move around, leave, whatever. It’s always interesting, challenging and sometimes deeply spiritual, sometimes very political, sometimes poetic, sometimes comedic, other times tragic… No music except maybe an acoustic guitar or two in the gazebo. My favorite version is a little of each mode of interchange, and then home to rest in blessed solitude.
Don’t have a cell phone, don’t want one, but you know, the old fashioned telephone is technology too!
Not trying to win converts, just being open… I confess though that I don’t want to recorganize my social behaviors to match the tech, but closer to vice versa.

(Marco V Morelli) #49

Humancentric design! I appreciate the discussion here about doing live video. I hope, over time, we can develop the platform to provide a range of lower to higher intensity ‘spaces’—textual, audio, video, virtual—so one could go wherever one feels most attuned and find dialogue there, with fluidity in moving between different mediums.

One of the issues with audio is that it’s hard to know who is going to speak next, once you have more than 3 or 4 people in a call. It can be awkward on video, too, but it’s even worse in an audio-only conference. Video is good, in my opinion, with up to around 12 people. Beyond that only a small percentage can speak. 5-8 is a good range for an intimate yet dynamic talk. 2-4 is feasible for audio-only.

Text is nice because it allows for asynchronous magic and also more pure form—aka Real-Idea, logos—potentially transmitting something distinctly of the spirit, especially with a good writer.

I envision weaving all these modes together in some elegant, functional way—so one could record a small audio event (like a podcast) or a larger group using video, as well as incorporating audio or video (optionally) into replies.

But video is definitely a matter of practice, too. The more I’ve done it, the easier it’s become…

(Maia ) #50

Thanks for the rich reply! I have both lead and attended audio-only conferences in which each person takes a position in a circle, ie, on an imaginary clock, which helps in turn taking and orderliness. Plus there are ways of working things out. Leaving silences is a big one, it really helps. Or just going around the circle…
But I agree most people find it hard to oriente without vision. I’ve been practicing this for so long, I forget how disorienting it can seem to some. Yes on the good qualities of text, too, the time lag is actually very useful…
Appreciate your openness.
I just got my library copy of Parable, but still can’t find the 8/15 discussion group recording, is it up? I’m not yet expert at navigating here!

(Marco V Morelli) #51

That is a good point about the silence, and useful visualizations when working with audio. Yes, there must definitely be ways of facilitating in these spaces. Here is the most recent recording:

I think we may need to organize these into a single channel, or tag. I was thinking, @Geoffrey_Edwards, @Douggins, and open to others—what if we create a Readers Underground “SF” channel, in tribute to Donna Haraway’s trans-genre chthonic use of the term?

This could include readings from Le Guin, Delany, and various others who fit the bill. Tags could specifiy the author and book.

I wonder if we could group Gebser, Aurobindo, Sloterdijk, Manning, and others into a kind philosophy-related category? Something akin to SF but not SF? What other channels might befit our literary milieu? Let’s take it up in a new topic?

(Katina Press) #52

You hit the nail right on the head, with that comment, Marco! God Bless You!

(Katina Press) #53

Watch this and let’s consider it in our next Butler discussion. I shared it with Miranda if that’s okay.

The Battle Royale