What Matters

Frank Ruffino
2 min readNov 8, 2020

It matters what matters we use to think other matters with; it matters what stories we tell to tell other stories with; it matters what knots knot knots, what thoughts think thoughts, what ties tie ties. It matters what stories make worlds, what worlds make stories.

Upon first skim, at least speaking for myself, this quote was hard to wrap my mind around. A second and third revision cleared some things up, but it wasn’t until I indulged in the readings until the meaning made more sense. The quote comes from Donna J. Haraway’s Pilgrim Award acceptance speech, where she reflects on her times in the SF community, her degrees, career, and experiences along the way. She uses this statement to give a broad overview of her feelings about the various categories, and not to undermine the significance of this, I think the quote can really be applied to anything and everything.

She provides some context for her statement later in the speech through the claim that, “SFF has given me the ideas, the stories, and the shapes with which I think ideas, shapes, and stories in feminist theory and science studies”. I find this to be an interesting concept because, though she may have had her own thoughts and feelings, they were in a strange sense not really her own as the education and community in which she spent her time provided her with the tools and thought process to make these feminist theory outlooks. This reminded me of what I learned in a sociology class, how your time and space, your where and when, really shape you as a person. My thoughts and mindset have undoubtedly been shaped almost entirely due to Michigan State University, the classes I have taken, and the individuals I have met along the way. And at the end of the day, it’s what matters. Not what class, but with who and taught by who, that ultimately form me.

This concept of space and time can both literally and figuratively be applied to Octavia Butler and her introduction to the science field. As a female individual who was interested in the unpopular fictional writing, her career potential was disadvantaged from the start. But given the time, the start of the space race, her opportunity quickly and greatly increased. In her words the, “…media pushed very hard in directions that I could be reached in, the space race. I was very lucky to be born just in time for the space race to build public support for education. All of a sudden there was plenty of money for education. All of a sudden there were plenty of supplies, for instance, for science education”. This time period was a realization of the importance of education, ultimately being beneficial to some individuals as well as the country. A time where it mattered what thoughts thought thoughts, and what matters were used to think those thoughts.

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