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Ursula K Le Guin’s novel, The Telling is a fascinating criticism of society.  The novel takes us on the journey of a woman named Sutty that observes other cultures.  Through her we learn of these people that are hiding and living outside of societal norms by telling their stories and teaching the way things used to be; not what The Corporation has implemented.  The Corporation moved into these societies and put in place and entirely new culture, making it illegal to even tell of the past.

The Corporation is a representation of “The Man.”  “They believe that their beliefs should prevail absolutely, that no other way of thinking should exist.” (Le Guin, 200)  Le Guin set them up to represent the force that has commercialized everything and is taking away the innate meanings of things.  One of the main themes connected to this idea is the value of religion.  From reading this novel I would guess that Le Guin is an atheist because she portrays The Corporation who prays and are believers in such a negative light and she portrays the people from Okzat-Ozkat in such a more positive light and they don’t pray or believe in god as a creator or even singular figure.  On Page 109 Sully comments on how she has come to realize that there is no connection between morality and religion and being that The Corporation creates the religion it’s a direct hit on the corruption of society.  The idea that the people in Okzat-Ozkat don’t pray, but instead wish, is really interesting to me.  She describes praying as begging someone else to fix something for you.  While some people do pray to help others, there are a lot of superficial things that go along with it (like asking to win the lottery etc.) instead of just wishing and hoping for something.  Praying is also something that people do as a ritual and therefore the almost become desensitized to what it really should be.

With the world moving as fast as it does, we seem to do this not only with religion but with almost every aspect of our lives.  There is a quote that sums up everything I took away from the book and what I believe was Le Guin’s main point.  “The difference, Sutty told her, was between somebody sitting thinking after a meal and somebody running furiously to catch the bus.” ( Le Guin 111) People have gotten so caught up in what’s coming next that they don’t appreciate what they have now.  We’re throwing out all our old way of doing things for technology and superficial things and leaving behind a certain quality of life.

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In reading Octavia Butlers, “The Evening and then Morning and the Night”, (I found myself taken aback by the very blunt and extreme nature of her writing.  Just to praise the author, I loved the way that it was written because with such a topic as suicide, she went about it with a smoothness that I hadn’t seen before.  In reading the short but salient story, I didn’t see the message of biology or nature to be as poignant as the message of mental health.  This story shows the contradiction of control, communication and the fight within the self to either submit to the way things are or fight against the grain.

In 1980 Borderline Personality Disorder was officially named as a disorder that could be diagnosed and treated.  A huge part of BPD is that you logically may know something is one way, but your behavior and reaction is entirely separated from that.  In the story, DGD shares a lot of the same characteristics as BPD in that is often results in self destructive behaviors, involves a feeling of being trapped within yourself and has levels of anxiety and paranoia.  I think that it’s quite possible that Butler could very easily have gotten a lot of her ideas from BPD (which would make sense because it wasn’t until the late 80’s that it became more prevalent in society and the story was written in 1987).

In analysis of the characters, you can easily see their behaviors and characterize them as having something similar to BPD.  The issue of control here is the author‘s biggest statement.  There are two main levels of control in life; the control of the self and the control of everyone else.  The way that the DGD’s participate in self mutilation is described as them scratching and tearing away at themselves as if trying to relieve themselves from their own bodies.  They are trapped within their own persona which is then trapped by the reality of everyone else (society, Beatrice, Lynn, the wards etc.).  Their depressive switch of when they drift is a very bi-polar trait that often associates with BPD in that they switch from seeing things logically enough to do things such as having children or even just work on a clay project, to committing murder and suicide.  The lives of these people are compared to the lives of bees.  Alan has issues with being controlled by the queen and being turned into nothing but a drone so he chooses to fight it.  In turn, this may lead to his detrimental depressive episode which like many other DGD’s leads to suicide.  When they find out that Dilg is a place where, while people aren’t self mutilating, they are being controlled without their knowledge.  The idea that he isn’t actually choosing to be calm, but rather that by Lynn personally interacting with him he is calmed and more at peace than ever, shows that we are never really in control of ourselves because we are not the only ones in our lives.  Butler is making the statement that living within ourselves is what leads to our detriment.  Being trapped within ourselves whether it’s coming out as being homosexual, having paranoia and mental health issues, or just not being understood by everyone else is what drives us crazy.  They never say why the DGD’s commit suicide and murder, but we do know that they are looked at differently and misunderstood.  One could guess that the reason that they only live to a young age is because they aren’t understood and are living only within themselves.  The reason that people in Dilg are stable is because they feel like can relate to someone like Beatrice or as revealed, Lynn.  The title correlates with the whole idea of this as well.  The self is the only thing that is there in the evening, the morning and the night; it is the only thing that is always there and never leaves unless the body leaves it in death.

Additional information outside of my knowledge was obtained at the following website:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borderline_personality_disorder