Friday, December 09, 2011

Oryx & Crake: Fair Warning

“Something’s missing when instead of the possibility of radical difference, we find always and everywhere the same ideas of how we might proceed.” – Eric Cazdyn and Imre Szeman in After Globalization.
What can be done in a world that's moving beyond our control? When systems take on a momentum of their own a sense of fatalism can overtake any gesture of collective will. Just look at what Stephen Harper has done in Canada's name at the Durban climate conference this week. Margaret Atwood’s 2003 novel, Oryx and Crake, is a warning and a harrowing portrait of the dystopia that awaits if we fail to harness a utopian conscience, if we fail to consider the “possibility of radical difference,” and succumb to the perception that forces remain beyond our control.

(Hieronymus Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights)

The main character in Oryx and Crake, Snowman, is trapped in the hell of his present dystopia:
"He doesn’t know which is worse, a past he can’t regain or a present that will destroy him if he looks at it too clearly. Then there’s the future. Sheer vertigo."
(Jason Courtney)

His unbearable present is overwhelming and leaves him with nothing to do but seek out ways - like alcohol - to avoid the obvious. While this seems to suggest that all is lost, in the final pages of the novel Snowman is confronted with a chance to step forward and initiate an action that may finally offer redemption...(read the novel!)

(Earth's Future)

In the figure of Crake, Atwood targets the messianic impulse to remake the entire world as the main source for all our problems. It's what Hannah Arendt identified as the concept of homo faber ("Man the Creator"), or he who uses every instrument to build a world, even when the fabrication of that world violates its own materiality, including its people.

(Jason Courtney)

Gil Scott-Heron had it right all along - "Ain't No Such Thing As A Superman":


  1. As unusual as it may seem, this is the first review of a book which has prompted me to read the book.
    I shall read it soon.

  2. I had to read this book for my literature degree but I have since fallen in love with it. I have bought the sequel to read when I finish my final year essay on Oryx and Crake. The images by Jason Courtney are brilliant!