I will be putting Marie de France’s Bisclavret into conversation with Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro, in order to answer the third question, which centres around chronohybridity. These texts interact with each other on many levels, lending credibility to the idea that literary works are always relevant to humans and other works, no matter their temporal origin. The main reason why I have chosen these particular tales is that they are both concerned with the process of ‘othering’ someone to remove them from accepted society. This phenomenon is one which has persisted throughout human history, therefore allowing less importance to be put on the texts’ cultural context.
I really enjoyed and endorse many of the points Bynum made in the chapter Metamorphosis and Identity. My favorite part was the first point of her conclusion where she discusses how “these dichotomies of nature versus nurture, biology versus social construction… do not seem to me to give us the help we need to deal compassionately with ourselves or with others” (Bynum 187). This point is so insightful to me — these difficult questions that we agonize over and spend so much time thinking about are ultimately obsolete if we are not compassionate and loving to one another. Continue reading
Our discussion in class on Thursday sparked an interesting debate regarding “intelligence.” As a species we view intelligence as something that separates us from the animals, as humans. The ability to think and process information in an intelligent manner is what makes us humans. Often times, we only consider those who are meticulous, logical, rational, and mathematically-minded to be “intelligent” in our culture. Continue reading
Five or Six weeks into the course, Hayles’ opening comment that first-wave cybernetics conveys that “boundaries of the human subject are constructed rather than given” (84). In Never Let Me Go the characters had completely conformed to the strangling society that they couldn’t escape from; in The Stone Gods the boundaries that Billie saw as defining what a human was were constantly being questioned by the reader as simple constructions that were prevalent in society; and in Oryx and Crake, Snowman seems bound to the humanity that has been built around him. Continue reading
One of the most cliché phrases in our society is that ‘children are our future’. Walt Disney is quoted as saying that “Children are our greatest natural resource.” In the three books we’ve read for this class, the idea has been turned and twisted in the post apocalyptic societies presented. In Never Let Me Go it’s obvious to see how children are exploited. The same can be said for Stone Gods, where the blatant sexualizing of children by a society of pedophiles strips them of a childhood. Even Minority Report included stealing a child away from their childhood for the greater good. Oryx and Crake is no different. It’s seen clearly in the instance of Oryx in her chilling account as her time as a child prostitute, but it can also be seen in the accounts of Crake and Snowman.
Ever since class on Tuesday, I have been thinking about Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go and our discussion of how the students are raised at Hailsham. Specifically, we focused on the way students were taught creative trades and how they were encouraged to be artistic and to take pride in their work. At Hailsham, Kathy tells us, it was a big deal to have work chosen for the Gallery, even when they did not actually know the true intent of that gallery. It was not the revelation that art is an indicator of possessing a soul in this novel that stunned me, rather, it was the awareness that everyone seemed to agree on such a point in what I presume would be a rather scientifically-based community. Continue reading
There is one scene in particular within the film adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel Never Let Me Go that represents how the film slightly branches off from the novel. The scene is towards the beginning of the film, when Kathy, Tommy, and Ruth are all still children at Halisham. The scene is framed through Kathy’s perspective when she encounters Tommy and Ruth kissing near a fountain on the Halisham grounds. Continue reading
On Tuesday we talked about monsters and sort of inhuman creatures that humanity has conjured up over the years. What I took away from Graham’s writing was that monsters are so terrifying because they represent a sort of breach in what are usually thought of as very specific boundaries between creatures. This carried in to our discussion about the clones in Never Let Me Go, who were seen as kind of monstrosities because they, though appearing human, are somehow just short of it. Their very existence terrifies ‘normals’ because they represent a kind of creature that has crossed that boundary between human and non-human. However, because they are so close to us in appearance and behavior (really exactly like us except they can’t reproduce), the normals of the Never Let Me Go world tried to make themselves feel better by treating the clones well until they were sent off to their death. Continue reading
In the second chapter of her text, Graham speaks about society’s creation, throughout history, of monsters; that is, those with characteristics which the ruling culture deems non-human. These decisions, which shape the cultural perception of the beings involved, do not rely on a set of rigid empirical facts about humankind, but are instead grounded in self-interest. In Never Let Me Go, those in power have, at some point, approved the creation of cloned humans, whose sole purpose is to donate their organs to non-cloned people. Though it seems that there is nothing to distinguish them physically or mentally from ‘normal’ humans, they are treated as the ‘other’, and are ostracised from society. Continue reading
Starting at birth, human life has a predictable end. In the United States today, a male’s life expectancy is 75.6 years, a female’s is 80.8 years. In the world Ishiguro has created, no donor is expected to live past 30 years. As a result, the students of Hailsham age on a unique schedule. What I have so far found most interesting in Never Let Me Go is this acceptance of life in such abbreviated terms. Continue reading