Fascinating or Creepy

The story “A Conversation about Bread” by Nafissa Thompson Spires, is a story about two boys that were assigned to complete a writing assignment. Eldwin has to write a story about an interesting moment from Brian’s life. As we follow Eldwin through the many revisions and edits to his writing, Brian shows the reader his interesting point of view on storytelling.

There seems to be a recurring motif in the story of a white woman creepily watching and observing people of color. There is the white woman who takes notes while they are writing, there is stalker Kim, and there is the lady that went to college with Brian’s mom. I believe this was done intentionally. Throughout the short story, Brian seems to get mad at Eldwin when he writes about his life, because he believes that the way Eldwin is writing, is almost as if he is “fetishizing” people of color in order to make the story more “interesting” for the reader. This idea of white people “fetishizing” stories of people of color is present in many stories today and can actually come off as creepy or distancing. This is also demonstrated when Brian tells Eldwin about his mom’s roommate in college. Brian says “So she could catch her in her ‘natural state.’ The girl was sending the pictures home to her family, like, look at this elephant I saw at the watering hole or this native with a disc in her lip”(179). In these instances, this extreme fascination makes the person being observed feel uncomfortable and “exotic”. This is demonstrated again when Brian says  that “ both men felt like unicorns in their grad program” and that “ he was more self-conscious about his black maleness than his disability”(177). I find this interesting because I have never noticed this before. After reading this story I realized that many of the pieces of literature that I have read in the past fit this exact idea. I believe that we should strive to make stories interesting and appealing to the reader, without singling out races different from our own as “exotic”.

Stealing Hearts

For me, the most fascinating aspect of the short story “Escape from Spiderhead” is the idea of being able to control another person’s emotion with an administered drug, along with the consequenses of doing so. An individual’s emotions and how he/she expresses them is a defining quality that makes us unique and human. Love, is a very deep and personal feeling that is extremely hard to simply create out of thin air. However, in the story, Abnesti is able to minipulate love in his subjects with the simple flick of a switch. He claims, if proven to work, this advancement could change world for the better (end national disputes, stop soldiers from fighting, etc). But, a moral dilema is raised as a result. At what point do we start to lose our individuality/uniqueness?

If we were able to control other individuals’ emotions, we would all essentially become “robots”. Everybody would lose their authenticity and nobody would ever know when another peroson is being genuine. This would create a “distant” feeling between each person, and everyone would eventually lose their feelings of happiness. In “Escape from Spiderhead”, Jeff thinks to himself, “Why sad? Was I not a dude?… Still, honestly, I felt sadder than sad. I guess I was sad that love was not real? Or not all that real anyway? I guess I was sad that love could feel so real and the next minute be gone, and all because of something Abnesti was doing”(26). Even though Jeff was able to experience true love, he was not content with himself because as quickly as he was able to gain (the mutual) feelings, he had them taken away. The feeling of Love is desireble because it has to be earned, and when it is, it should be hard to lose. The instantaneous gain and loss of feelings for/of Jeff, made such a personal connection feel like a business transaction. Especially since it was a result of Abnesti’s decisions. Controlling emotions and feelings has always been sought after by humans, but reading this story has made me realize that, in doing so, we would lose our humanity and individuality.