First Read: Oryx and Crake Chapter 7-8 (Sveltana-Asperger’s U.)

Garden of Unearthly Delights

Snowman is tired. After having exhausted what was left of his remaining storage of food, Snowman contemplates new ways of finding sustenance. He’s aware that his body will shut down and begin to devour itself if he doesn’t have access to some meat or protein soon, and has already started cursing his misstep in commanding the Children to bring him only one fish a day through their ritual sacrifice and not more.

In his delirious hunger-raked state of mind, Snowman comes up with the idea of acquiring another “spraygun” so that he can hunt down wild Pigoons for food and ward off ravenous Wolvogs. He’ll journey back to the RejoovenEsence Compound, where apparently a team of other survivors(!) had set up camp but likely had left upon learning something ominous about the facility.

Snowman does not want to go back there, presumably for the same reasons as why the other survivors have left, but otherwise must in order to survive. He knows where Crake’s private bubble-dome bunker “Paradice” is,and is familiar with where a cache of food and weapons might still be housed there.

He’d been one of the angels guarding the gate, in a manner of speaking, so he knows where everything is, he’ll be able to lay his hands on the necessary items. A quick in and out, a snatch and grab. Then he’ll be equipped for anything.” (Pg. 230, Sveltana)

Snowman estimates that the journey to the compound could take as many as three days, but before he leaves off he must pay a visit to the village of the children in order to gather supplies and keep them from inadvertently following him into harms way. On the way to their village, Snowman comes up with a story to tell them to explain his sudden absence. He whistles when he is nearby in order to let them know he is near. (Kind of reminds me of a shadier version of Gandalf; some emaciated, saran-wrapped, self-deluded  weaver of grand exaggerations and benevolent lies.)

In order to fend off the prowling creatures that live in the areas between the compounds, Snowman will require a special substance. One that is only attainable through the Children of Crake. Their urine. “According to Crake – and Snowman has seen nothing since to disprove it – the chemicals programmed into the men’s urine are effective against wolvogs and rakunks, and to a lesser extent against bobkittens and pigoons.” (Pg.362, Purring)

We learn more about the disturbing implications of Crake (and Jimmy’s!) deliberate intervention in the creation of the children. Apparently, this species of humans is capable of subsisting off of their own stool and possess the ability to “Purr”; a form of hyper-ultrasound and mediation that allows the children to heal their own wounds. Crake’s intrusive sense of megalomanical genetic intervetion crosses over into the reproductive cycle of the children as well.

A morose mating ritual which occurs only once every three or so years takes place among the children. Crake has eugenically redesigned the children’s genitalia to flush with a deep azure blue whenever this ritual takes place. This color elicits a specific pheromone, which in turn prompts blue erections from the Children of Crake. Mating takes place in batches, where one child of Oryx chooses up to four children of Crake to conceive with. If not now then eventually, each of the Crakers will have had their turn at the horizontal monster-mash.

This system, of Crake’s design, seemingly circumvents the troublesome intrinsic disappointments that come with the dysfunction of courtship and the divorce between love, lust, and unrequited affection.

“How much misery…how much needless despair has been caused by a series of biological mismatches, a misalignment of the hormones and pheromones? Resulting in the fact that the one you love so passionately won’t or can’t love you. As a species we’re pathetic that way: imperfectly monogamous.”

“Better plan – make it cyclical and also inevitable, as in the other mammals. You’d never want someone you couldn’t have.” (Pg. 374, Blue)

Snowman recollects on the discussion that took place between Crake and himself , sitting in the lunchroom as two(?) early-twenty-something genetic engineers. Snowman, then named Jim (though everyone still called him Jimmy) argued that Crake’s plan negates the thrill of the courtship experience, dulling the satisfaction of the chase as it were and basically reducing these creature to being hormonal robots. To which Crake replies that we in fact are hormonal robots, just faulty ones.

(Gee Golly Gee, pulling out of the perspective of an academic assessment of the text for a sec here, the more I hear about Crake the more I just want to punch him in his fucking throat.)

Jim then makes an argument on the appeal of the value of the arts. Crake replies that the arts are ultimately superfluous to the surviving legacy of a long dead species. It’s an amusing distraction that acts as only an indirect supplement to the sexual act. Essentially, Art is, at its core, an appeal in getting laid.

Through the window of this memory, the narrative jumps back to the eve of Jim and Crake’s graduation from the HelthWyzer Magnet High School. Crake, a student of exemplar reputation and scores is hand-picked by way of a collegiate auction to the Watson-Crick Institute, the post-ecological disaster equivalent of MIT and Harvard for the mathematically and scientifically gifted. Jimmy, on the other hand, is selected for the Martha Graham School of the Arts, a once prestigious liberal arts university now reduced to a dilapidated pool of pompous pretension.

Before starting their collegiate careers however, The two of them take a summer vacation with Crake’s step-father (Uncle Pete) at the Moosonee HelthWyzer Gated Vacation Community. During the summer the two are immersed in news following the patent war over a new form of genetically altered coffee bean which has bankrupted millions of independent coffee farmers, tipping the world economy into peril. (I find it kind of morbidly hilarious that the unraveling of society is being punctuated by the creation of a coffee bean.)

Watching footage of the riots and protests alongside Crake and Uncle Pete, Jim catches a glimpse of someone that appears to be his long lost mother. Quickly taking hold of himself before letting on that he recognizes the woman in the video, Jim later confides in Crake his discovery.

The two go their separate ways at the start of the new school year. Crake goes to Watson-Crake (aka Aspergers U.) and Jim goes to Martha Graham, were with a combination of self-pity and melancholy is able to attract a plethora of emotionally dependent, drama-fixated artsy women who cave in and submit to his abrasive psychological manipulations.

Jim and Crake continue a online correspondence on throughout the first year, and after a bit of insistence on Jim’s part, He comes to visit Crake at Watson-Crick for Thanksgiving Holiday.

Questions after reading:

  • What will Jim find at Watson-Crick? Will he finally meet the elusive Oryx?
  • Has Crake already started the genetic engineering of the Children?
  • Will Crake have a direct hand guiding the ecological apocalypse?
  • What will Snowman find at the RejoovenEsence Compound? What is so terrible there that he would not want to come back?
  • Who and where are these “other survivors”? Will they play a direct hand in Snowman’s journey
  • Will the Children of Oryx and Crake ever find out about Snowman’s deception? What will/would happen?
  • If Snowman was “one of the angels guarding the gate” to Crake’s “Paradice“, who were or might have been the others?

Oryx and Crake; Fan Cover Art by Angelica Alzona

(Next Installment: Oryx and Crake Chapter 8-10 (Wolvogs-Garage)