Reading ‘Oryx and Crake’: Day 2

Moving along with Oryx and Crake, here’s my notes and thoughts on the second leg of the book; from pages 94 to 200.

We see Jimmy and Crake growing up. The story details how they’re exposed to the unfiltered brutality of this world. Their excuse is that it isn’t real. Watching something on a screen doesn’t make it less real, especially now that screens have become an indispensable part of reality. The sites they frequent are extrapolations of the pornographic and violence-peddling, terrorist propaganda vending sites that are familiar to us. Snuff sites, NoodieNews, hedsoff.com, middle east executions : alibooboo.com. Crake seems to be unaffected by any moral questions that might occur to one consuming these things, but Jimmy is not so callous.

shortcircuit.com (electrocutions – executions) brainfrizz.com

Assisted suicide websites niteenite.com

Crake says all these incidents are bogus. Jimmy digs up old words like ‘awesome’ and ‘bogus’ and makes it a part of their vocabulary.

Anna K – installation artist who live streamed her entire life. Like the Truman Show.

Jimmy was introduced to Macbeth (Shakespeare) via Anna K.

This is the age of the body, as distinct from the soul or the mind.

There is a cult of the body. Executions are its tragedies and pornography is its romance.

What is striking here is the modernity of the story. Although this is supposed to be a post-apocalyptic story, it isn’t that far away in the future and it all seems so tantalizingly possible today or tomorrow.

Crake connects to the internet over his uncle’s (step father) account. He sets up something like a tor onion network not to be traced. A lillypad labyrinth he calls it. Crake’s uncle is a bigwig at HelthWyzer.

(101) HottTotts

Crake’s mother is always in an unseeing, unfeeling stupor. She is a diagnostician but she doesn’t care about what has become of her son or those he associates with.

Crake decides what porn they watch. It is Crake’s computer that they use and Jimmy doesn’t get much of a say.

Tart of the Day, Superswallowers, HottTotts – sex trotting site – sex tourism. Chronicles the sexcapades of white men in the far east.

It is on a video streamed from HottTotts that Jimmy first sees Oryx. ‘Small boned, exquisite and naked’.

Jimmy was struck by how she looked straight into the camera as if she could see who was watching her. Made Jimmy feel that what he was doing was very wrong.

Later, Jimmy would ask Oryx if she was thinking anything. “I may not have been thinking anything.”

(109) Chapter 5 Toast.

Back to Snowman’s present. It’s evening and Snowman is hungry. He sees a glowing rabbit – gene spliced.

He can’t kill it because he has decreed to the Children of Crake that rabbits belong to the Children of Oryx and are sacred to Oryx herself.

He laid down their mythologies. He needs to maintain internal consistency within these myths.

The children had asked him what ‘toast’ is. “Toast is something very very bad”. “Toast is me. I am toast.”

(114) Fish. “It is comforting to remember that homo sapiens sapiens was once so ingenious with language, and not only with language. Ingenious in every direction at once.

The Children of Crake – the women are of every colour and perfect in every way. Their perfection renders them unattractive to Snowman. They bring a fish to him every week – accordint o his instruction that they ought to do so.

Crakers do not have to hunt. They can survive on plants. But Snowman cannot.

Crake was against the notion of God. So, in order to spite him, Snowman has deified him in his stories.

(122) Bottle. Snowman consumes his alcohol reserves. He feels excluded from the society of the Crakers. They sing in communion with each other.

For the first few months, he got drunk every night.

He feels that his evolutionary purpose has been served – he has saved the children. Now he is an atavism, a throwback or a exile.

He rues the loss of household pets – strays killed by Wolvogs for food.

Snowman pines for Oryx.

Oryx’s past.

Snowman conjures up Oryx’s presence – a construction out of the mishmash of memory that he has left. “How long had it taken him to piece her together from the slivers of her he’d gathered an hoarded so carefully?”

Oryx has a hymenoptera face, a mantid face.

Was a sold as a child. Born when Jimmy was 7,8 or 9. Identity is difficult to determine. Indonesia, Myanmar, Vietnam or Cambodia. She cannot remember her native language. She was sold by her mother along with her brother after her father died of a lung disease. “The girls were sold in preference to boys. “The girls would only get married and make more girls”.

Their selling was traumatic for the mothers, so they tried to disguise the transaction as apprenticeship. The girls would be taken away to the city where they’d be paid wages which they could choose to sent back to their families or not. Initial lump sum would be paid to the families. No money was ever sent back by the children.

Crake was not outraged by the fact that such trade existed. He has an explanation for it. “Homo sapiens is the only species which doesn’t limit reproduction in the face of dwindling resources… the less we eat, the more we fuck.”

The reason, says Crake, is because human being can imagine their own mortality, they see the end coming and in a desperate bid wants to live on through their children.

The person who bought Oryx from her mother is Uncle En.

Oryx imagines that the bird call she hears as she travels from village to city is her mother’s spirit following her in a sort of astral projection. Jimmy is angry at Oryx’s mother but Oryx feels only love – especially because she’d sold her along with her brother so that they may be together.

(148) Roses

Oryx was given a new name, SusU and send to sell flowers to tourists. She was the smallest of the lot, an angelic doll. If the boys were no good selling flowers, they would be sold to white men who loved little boys, they would become ‘melon bum boys’. Sexual exploitation. Oryx was used as bait to trap and blackmail men who’d want to have sex with her.

Eventually Uncle En is killed.

Oryx was sold to a man who made pornographic movies. Oryx learned that everything has a price. In the movie industry they were supposed to be pure looking and hence washed a lot. They weren’t given any hard drugs but were allowed beer. The cameraman – Jack.

In exchange for sex, Jack taught Oryx to read and talk English.

Jimmy wants to know what Jack did to her, he is furious and he wouldn’t let go of questioning Oryx till she had told him what happened to her.

“Crake is right,” said Oryx “You do not have an elegant mind.”

(162) Pixieland

The movie studio was called Pixieland.

(173) Svetlana. Chapter named after – Svetlana no-meat Cocktail sausages – baby’s turds – the food supplement Snowman eats. Snowman is hungry for protein. His diet lacks it, his muscles are atrophying. He has already scavenged and exhausted everything within a day’s walking distance. To go further he would have to stay out at night and that means that he’d be attacked by Wolvogs. He doesn’t have a gun.

“I used to be erudite.” What are all those things that he once thought he knew and where have they gone?”

Before resorting to eating bugs, Snowman will go to the Rejoovenesence Compound. This is the ground zero of what has happened to Snowman’s world.

“Once they’d known what is going on, the inhabitants had fled.” Crake’s bubble dome – Paradice – contains sprayguns – somekinda futuristic weapon.

(182) Before he leaves, he must tell the Crakers. The crakers can heal wounds by purring. Like canids, mustelids etc. Also they use scent marking – males urinate around their camp twice a day, keeps out predators. Wolvogs, pigoons, rakunks, and bobkittens.

Crake eliminated the G spot in the brain. “God is a cluster of neurons”.

Crakers have accelerated growth. They do not have a lengthy childhood. They produce and consume caecotrophs – semi digested food discharged anally and reconsumed. Jimmy wanted Crake to get rid of this feature because it was aesthetically displeasing. Crake did not concede.

Purely aesthetic objections ought not be considered.

(192) Blue – Snowman is on his way.

Craker’s courtship and mating. (194) Crake has made the whole thing into a kind of sport. There is no more love, requited or not.

Crake quoted Byron to justify his ends – The Devil may quote scripture.

Crake was at the Watson-Crick Institute.

Female artists are biologically confused. [[Who was it, among Watson or Crick who controversially referred to female scientists?]]

Snowman is feeling alone, “Where is my bride of Frankenstein?”

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