Yesterday, we handed The Huntington’s Instagram account over to journalist and essayist Lynell George, who spent the day sharing photos of items in the archive of famed science fiction writer Octavia E. Butler. Lynell has been conducting research in the archive as part of “Radio Imagination,” a yearlong project organized by Los Angeles–based arts organization Clockshop to celebrate Butler’s life and work. She and 11 other contemporary artists and writers were commissioned by Clockshop to perform research in the Butler papers and create original works in response. Below is a roundup of all of the Instagram posts from yesterday’s #takoverTheH event.
Writer Lynell George (aka @wanderingfoot) is taking over the Huntington Instagram today! She has been conducting research in the archive of science fiction writer Octavia E. Butler as part of “Radio Imagination,” a year-long celebration organized by @clockshopla. She’ll be posting images of handwritten notes and other jottings from the Butler collection, looking at Butler’s interior journey to becoming a writer. .. On Oct. 19 at 7:30p.m. at @armoryarts in Pasadena, Lynell and artist Connie Samaras will talk about their research in the Butler archive. The event takes place in conjunction with the recently-opened exhibition “Radio Imagination: Artists in the Archive of Octavia E. Butler,” on view through Jan. 8, 2017, at the Armory Center for the Arts. .. Lynell is a Los Angeles–based journalist and essayist. As a staff writer at the Los Angeles Times and L.A. Weekly she covered social issues, art, human behavior, and identity politics. She is currently an arts and culture columnist for KCET’s Artbound. George’s writing has appeared in various magazines and news outlets, including Boom, Slake, Vibe, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Essence, Black Clock, The Root, Ms., and many others, and she is the author of "No Crystal Stair: African Americans in the City of Angels" (1992), a collection of essays drawn from her reporting. .. #takeoverTheH #OctaviaEButler #ClockshopLA #RadioImagination
Seeds: When I first began making my way through the Octavia E. Butler archive, I realized what I most needed to understand was her drive. Her dedication to craft — the hard work of writing — began at a very early age. This ball-point pen notation is from an entry in a memo/commonplace book from 1963. She would have been about 16. “I was more interested in short novel writing.” Because she was shy, she tended to test out what she might say in a meeting (or later a speech or panel) in a note, so it was ready when the moment arrived. Honing her voice. —Lynell George (@wanderingfoot) #takeoverTheH #OctaviaEButler #RadioImagination
Inspirations: I have found myself drawn to the “stray cards” and floating pieces of notepaper in the Octavia E. Butler archive. As well, I was also attracted to these quick jottings in margins — sometimes even in the middle of a page, breaking the flow of text — because often they give the reader a physical sense of the many ideas/concerns/wishes alive in her head at the same time. While she had been discouraged from pursuing writing by some family members, she often gives credit to people moments and gestures that most shaped her. The slip of paper “My inspirations” moved me because she often made notes about how sustaining her mother’s unwavering love was. —Lynell George (@wanderingfoot) #takeoverTheH #OctaviaEButler #RadioImagination
Affirmations: An essential part of Octavia Butler's writing ritual was the affirmation, a notion of encouraging herself and writing herself into being. “I will write the novel — The BEST novel that I’ve ever written” Again, writing it into being. She worked long, long hours and often day after day without a break, tracking her word and/or page process. —Lynell George (@wanderingfoot) #takeoverTheH #OctaviaEButler #RadioImagination
“Why the self-destruct?” Sometimes Octavia Butler’s spirits dipped. She worried. Some of the entries, like “Therapy” — a journaling ritual — helped her climb out of the emotional trenches. Here on these pages she stared unblinkingly into the crevices of a problem. —Lynell George (@wanderingfoot) #takeoverTheH #OctaviaEButler #RadioImagination
“We Will Win” The calendars are some of my favorite pieces in the Octavia E. Butler collection. She spent a lot of time blocking out the squares of wall calendars, writing responses to so-called wisdom in “Quote of a day” datebooks. One family calendar, her mother’s, she reused for decades. This re-imagining of a calendar—it’s a 1967 calendar which she turned over and fashioned into an affirmation writ large. —Lynell George (@wanderingfoot) #takeoverTheH #OctaviaEButler #RadioImagination
Kate Lain is the new media developer at The Huntington.