Oryx and Crake Read-Along: Post Four (Part 7 – 9 Reaction)
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Reading Parts 7-9
This is probably the section of the book I remember the least about. Maybe I read it late at night. Or maybe I read it really fast, because we`re finally making some progress. Jimmy’s on the move, and he’s telling us more about Crake. Looking back, there are actually a bunch of really important things in these chapters, but I can’t talk about them yet! So if you`re still reading, PAY ATTENTION.
My thoughts are a little disjointed, but as always, there’s lots to comment on. The writing is so dense.
Part 7-9 Reaction
Blue Man Group: This book is pretty serious and scary most of the time, but there are some laughs:
Their penises turn bright blue to match the blue abdomens of the females, and they do a sort of blue-dick dance number, erect members waving to and fro in unison, in time to the foot movements and the singing: a feature suggested to Crake by the sexual semaphoring of crabs.
(Probably getting flagged as pornography by my work’s servers tomorrow. Again.)
So sex comes down to women being fertile and men being… there? Jimmy and Crake talk about what this means – no more unrequited love, no more rape, no more fussin’ and fightin’. But Jimmy wants to know what this means for art, much of which is inspired by heartache. Crake patronizes and condecends (why does Jimmy like him, again?) and finally asks:
Wouldn’t you rather be fucking?
Which is pretty much up there with “to be or not to be” as far as philosophical questions go. But says a lot about Crake, I think.
A Woman’s Work: Jimmy says the Craker women don’t do any work apart from tending the fire. I guess pregnancy, childbirth, and child care aren’t work? Dick.
Though maybe Crake made some adjustments in that area too. If *I* was designing a new strain of human, that’s the first thing I would mess with. Shorter gestation, smaller babies… maybe we could just lay eggs, or something? The more I think about it, the more I’m pissed off at Crake for not addressing this!
He better have got rid of wisdom teeth too.
Teach a Snowman to Fish: I feel like I’m missing something – why the hell can’t Snowman ask the Crakers to catch him more fish? He makes it sound like he can never go back on his word or contradict himself. They seem to take him at face value, so why can’t he just say Crake spoke to him through his watch and want them to catch more fish, or something? Or, why can’t Snowman go fishing with the Crakers, learn for himself? He is keeping himself at arm’s reach, for some reason. Is he afraid of them? Afraid he’ll become one of them? I don’t get it.
Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy!: Atwood is very plot focused here. I found myself so caught up in Jimmy’s story that I sometimes forgot that oh yeah, billions of people have died. I think he’s a pretty self-centered guy, so it makes sense that his story is wrapped up in himself. But Atwood reminds us, from time to time, of the absolute horror that occured just weeks (months?) ago:
Along the road is a trail of objects people must have dropped in flight, like a treasure hunt in reverse. A suitcase, a knapsack spilling out clothes and trinkets; an overnight bag, broken open, beside it a forlorn pink toothbrush. A bracelet; a woman’s hair ornament in the shape of a butterfly; a notebooks, its pages soaked, the handwriting illegible.
The fugitives must have had hope, to begin with. They must have thought they`d have a use for these things later. Then they`d changed their minds and let go.
The most disturbing passage in the whole book, perhaps series:
“That’s the head in the middle,” said the woman. “There’s a mouth opening at the top, they dump the nutrients in there. No eyes or beak or anything, they don’t need those.”
I had Chicken McNuggets the day after reading this passage, and it has haunted my dreams ever since.
Mommy Issues: So, both Crake and Jimmy lost their mothers to the evil HealthWyzer machine. Pretty good motivation for ending the world, or saving it, I suppose.
Oryx and Crake IRL: There was an epic thread on Reddit this week, asking people to spill industry secrets. There was lots of gross stuff about the restaurant industry, and how various service industries rip you off (Jiffy Lube, duh,) but this one caught my eye:
Most people who say this are ignored as kooks, but having worked in pharmaceutical research, I can confirm this:
- We already have developed better, safer medicines than most of the crap currently on the market. However due to the following reasons, most of it will never reach the market.
- FDA Approval costs a fair amount of money and time, and for a “new drug” to be approved takes bloody years. The slightest fuckup in testing and back to the beginning.
- Money. If a new drug discovery is not going to be as profitable as the stuff currently on the market, it will simply be patented and sat on. Research funding: Not enough of it anymore to properly explore all the possibilities.
Life imitates art? Art imitates life? Damn.
Till next week! Check out the other read-along posts at Reading in Winter.