Oryx and Crake Essay
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Consider this; what if something desirable could cause the end of the world? For many years society has dreamed of bigger and better things. Their desires ranging drastically from the scientific to solving the impossible, which does not seem so impossible anymore. However, their desires are beyond believable, and even society has no idea that their desires can have disastrous consequences; from the influence towards one mind to the end of mankind. The novel Oryx and Crake written by Margaret Atwood is an at once unforgettable love story and a compelling vision of what the future could be. Snowman, known as Jimmy before mankind was overwhelmed by a plague, is struggling to survive in a world where he may be the last human. While mourning the loss of his best friend, Crake (Who was also namely responsible for providing the virus), and the love of his life, Oryx – whom they both loved – Jimmy is trying to find answers to the pandemic that destroyed his world. By society’s desires to gain Immortality they have found a means through organ transplants and pills. Yet, are unaware how these ideas spurred those to end the world. Through genetic engineering society’s synthetic desire to control the nature of Nature holds dangerous consequences to the advancement of animal intelligence and mankind as a whole.
To control diseases and their absolute cures society’s desire are slowly meeting. However, these advancements have brought new competitors to the surface, i.e. Crake, and both his desire and society’s own are bringing mankind to their ultimate destruction through a pill called the BlyssPluss Pill. Due to society’s desire for immortality, the alteration of the nature of Nature, and the control over disease all result in one major consequence; the end of mankind. The desire for immortality led society a step closer to their destruction. By finding a means to rejuvenate aging bodies through organ transplants and pills, society searches for the immortal life. Crake, however, had other ideas of immortality, and it all leads one step towards his ultimate desire: a world anew. Throughout the novel the society within it has created pills to cure any disease and genetically modified animal organ transplants to prolong life, and to make the body younger. Crake proves this by saying, “Men can imagine their own deaths, they can see them coming, and the mere thought of impending death acts like an aphrodisiac. A dog or rabbit doesn’t behave like that. Take birds-in a lean season they cut down on the eggs, or they won’t mate at all. They put their energy into staying alive themselves until times get better. But human beings hope they can stick their soils into someone else, some new version of themselves, and live on forever” (145).
Society’s fear of death has clearly been entrenched into their system, and a cure for it is a constant need. Crake explains how “the thought of impending death acts like an aphrodisiac”, which serves to emphasize the society’s fear to die and the likely lengths, they would go to, to avoid it. Such fears are what pushed their desire to survive, which led them to find a means to solve it. Through a means of DNA splicing and pills, younger body parts and endless cures are created in a fight to survive the inevitable. Such pushes towards their form of immortality only helped lead to their destruction. While influenced by society’s attempts at immortality Crake aimed to push the process forward. However, instead of pursuing immortality by modifying humans that were already in existence, Crake aimed to recreate the human from the inside out, proving that “Immortality,” said Crake, “is a concept. If you take ‘mortality’ as being, not death, but the foreknowledge of it and the fear of it, then ‘immortality’ is the absence of such fear. Babies are immortal. Edit out the fear, and you’ll be…” (364). Based on the premise that the fear of death is what resulted in mortality, Crake figured that if he could construct and being that had no fear of death that the search for immortality would end.
It was this understanding of his belief of immortality being the “absence” of “fear” which he sees as “mortality” which led to his creation of the Crakers; a perfect race that fears nothing and is immune to all disease. This only spurred his desire for a perfect world for his perfect people where fear, hatred, prejudice, and crime were non-existent. His desires for an immortal people to an immortal world made him begin his mission to recreate the world, a step forward to the destruction of mankind. Consequently, the desires of both the society and Crake face on immortality and the lengths they go to is one large step to their near inevitable destruction. Society’s desire to control the nature of Nature by a means of DNA and medicine brings their world steps closer to their own destruction. The “natural” evolution vs “synthetic” evolution presents society’s desire to survive through DNA splicing of animals to fight disease, which raises questions about what exactly compromises nature. This idea that the natural order of the world can be changed is what made Crake’s belief of a perfect system possible. For years scientists have searched and discovered ways to cure diseases all over the world.
Crake himself also had these ideas, resulting in the creation of, “The BlyssPluss Pill was designed to take a set of givens, namely the nature of human nature, and steer these givens in to a more beneficial direction that the ones hitherto taken. It was based on studies of the now unfortunately extinct pygmy or bonobo chimpanzee, a close relative of Homo sapiens sapiens. Unlike the latter species, the bonobo had not been partially monogamous with polygamous and polyandrous tendencies. Instead it had been indiscriminately promiscuous, had not pair-bonded, and had spend most of its waking life, when it wasn’t eating, engaged in copulation. Its intraspecific aggression factor had been very low. Which had led to the concept of BlyssPluss. The aim was to produce a single pill, that, at one and the same time: a) Would protect the user against all known sexually transmitted diseases, fatal, inconvenient, or merely unsightly; b) Would provide an unlimited supply of libido and sexual prowess, couples with a generalized sense of energy and well-being, thus reducing the frustration and blocked testosterone that led to jealousy and violence, and eliminating feelings of low self-worth; c) Would prolong youth.
These three capabilities would be the selling points, said Crake; but there would be a fourth, which would not be advertised. The BlyssPluss Pill would also act as a sure-fire one-time-does-it-all birth-control pill, for male and female alike, thus automatically lowering the population level (354-355).” The BlyssPluss Pill is an obvious sign of the synthetic evolution their society desires. To manipulate “the nature of human nature” and put it “in a more beneficial direction” of reducing the overgrown human population, by denying and altering humans of one of their most primal states; sexual intercourse, Crake has altered the very face of human nature. These changes can honestly damage society once its effects become permanent, and society, in their desire to live young and immortal, are oblivious to it all. Furthermore, the nature of Nature is addressed as Snowman tries to escape from the human cortex containing pigeons: a genetically modified animal used to give people stronger organs. Snowman is essentially trying to outsmart a creature that thinks like a human, as when he tries to retrieve his arsenal from the bag left behind a pigoon attacked him.
The pigoons, “They were waiting for him, using the garbage as bait. They must have been able to tell there was something in it he’d want, that he’d come down to get. Cunning, so cunning. His legs are shaking by the time he reaches the top level again (327).” The change in mental capacity provided by the pigeons demonstrates an important point about human nature in the novel. The narrator explains how the pigeons “were waiting for him” and were able to tell he would “come down to get” his supplies. They were “cunning” enough to know this. These traits are defined as human, and now animals like the pigoons can think like people. In their attempts to better the world, humans have set themselves up for disaster by modifying the environment to the point that it has become hostile for all creatures. Human have essentially created their own enemies. Due to the desires to remain young by manipulating the nature of Nature – resulting in the altering of human nature and animal DNA – human society has wrought their own destruction.
The society’s desire to control disease in every form, while not impossible, has disastrous problems as it led to society’s ultimate downfall. In the novel disease holds an overarching presence within their society. They desire to control it through absolute cures and yet distribute their own viruses to keep people buying. Crake himself realized this and used it, resulting in the destruction of the human population. For years humanity had been searching for a means to cure all diseases permanently. However, while permanent cures are being dishes out a new issue arises for the companies; Crake says, “Remember the plight of the dentists, after that new mouthwash came in? the one that replaced plaque bacteria with friendly ones that filled the same ecological niche, namely your mouth? No one ever needed a filling again, and a lot of dentists went bust.” “So?”
“So, you’d need more sick people. Or else-and it might be the same thing-more diseases. New and different ones. Right?” “Stands to reason,” said Jimmy after a moment. It did, too. “But don’t they keep discovering new diseases?” “Not discovering,” said Crake. “They’re creating them (255).” The society thrives to control all aspects of disease, and it is clearly shown that new diseses are being created so doctors don’t go “bust”. Jimmy’s misconception that they “keep discovering new discovering new diseases” and Crake’s revealing that “They’re creating them” is a revelation, not just how scientists make a living, but to the generalization that someone could very well create a deadly virus. Create a new disease, sell a new cure. This ability is dangerous in society’s pursuit to eternal health and youth, yet people keep buying for that reason. These ideas are what spurred Crake’s using of the method in the future, yet he altered it dangerously. In addition, Crake’s discovery of these new diseases brought forth ideas of his own; to create his own cure.
The BlyssPluss Pill was a means to solving sexual diseases, yet the pill had side effects. A disease “was in the pills. It was in those pills I was giving away, the ones I was selling. It’s all the same cities, I went there. Those pills were supposed to help people! Crake said… (389)” Crake’s creation of the BlyssPluss Pill had people demanding it, the thought of curing all sexual diseases and pertaining eternal youth a must have. His cure however turned out to be the disease of everyone’s worst fear: death. Oryx’s desperate cries that it “was in the pills” proves Crake’s true goal. He had planned this, his carefully constructed project to cure the true problem: humanity. His desire to cure immortality, fueled by society’s own, became a desire to cure everything, and by using a pill everyone would want the entire population began to decline rapidly until there was only one left. Jimmy. Through society’s desire to control disease and Crake’s own desire, brought by society’s own, to cure all brought mankind to the ground. The society’s desire for immortality, the nature of Nature, and the control over disease and their immediate cures are all key factors leading to the greatest consequence; the apocalypse. Society’s desires to have overall immortality are being brought through the consistent modifying of the human body to be young.
Yet, Crake’s idea to change humans from the inside out has also brought society closer to their destruction. To control the nature of Nature through genetic engineering and altering animal DNA to the point of human thought to remain young was one of society’s greatest desires. However, they have quickly helped shove society to a faster end. Society’s desire of being able to control disease to the point of creation them to get paid have pushed society into darker territory. Through this they have influenced Crake to take matters into his own hands and have the ultimate cure to just about anything, and that is death. Through the reflection of society’s desires it is shown how, while perhaps good intentioned to better humanity, such ideas can have a terrible cost. The simple fact that this society dreams to control things that seem near impossible is strange. Yet, they achieved it in ways almost inhuman or unethical and to do was influences others to do the same, because the future must be provided for humanity. They had no idea just how dangerous influencing others (Crake) could have such a dangerous outcome. Humanity needs to be careful, or some ideas could become fatal to all. The idea that society can cause such consequences to their own species by desire and initiative alone is frightening, as the society of Oryx and Crake have learned from losing their lives to the virus that destroyed them all. However, in reality, all desires hold some form of consequence, whether you know if your affected by it or not. References: