Once Upon A Wolvog

Stories from the front lines


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The Risks of Storytelling

Throughout the whole trilogy of Maddaddam storytelling has come up in each book and it is the main way we as a reader get our information about each character. Here are a few examples of storytelling: In the first book, Oryx and Crake, we see Jimmy use storytelling with the Crakers to explain to them how the world works and in the third installment of the trilogy we pretty much see storytelling happening the whole time with Zeb explaining his life to Toby and Toby telling stories to the crakers.

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Now I personally believe that there are some risks that come with Storytelling.

One risk that comes with storytelling is the fact that the storyteller can literally say whatever he wants and it’s up to the listener to decide to believe him or not. In Jimmy and toby’s situation, they could have totally told the crackers a complete lie and said that aliens arrived at earth and kidnapped most people then killed the rest with a disease.

In all honesty, I probably would have done some lying to the Crakers if I were in jimmy’s shoes in Oryx and Crake. If everyone in the world is dead and there is no one to tell you that what you are saying is wrong You better bet I am going to have a little bit of fun with that!

What about you? If you were the last person left in the world and you had a room full of 30 dumb people who believed everything that you said, would you lie to them or try and tell the truth?


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What’s in a Name?

It’s a long- held idea that names carry with them meaning, along with a sort of determination or prediction of the character of the person it’s associated with. The thing that made me curious is that usually our names are given to us as children long before we have developed any sort of personality; yet in Maddaddam and the other books, many people are referred to by names that were picked for or by them at a much later age. This made me wonder to what extent the Maddaddam names relate to their respective characters.

Jimmy/Thickney

The Thicknee, or Bush-stone Curlew, is a bird found in Australia. Apart from it’s ‘remarkable courtship dance’ (we are all well aware of Jimmy’s ability to attract girlfriends), I found little in the ways of behavioural traits that linked to Jimmy except for Atwood’s description in Oryx and Crake: “a… double jointed bird that used to hang around in cemeteries, -and Jimmy suspected- because Crake liked the sound of it as it applied to Jimmy”. It’s interesting to note that Crake gave Jimmy his Maddaddam name: you could interpret it as the beginning of Crake’s deception. Also, the idea that his extinct animal is found in cemeteries among the dead is a kind of foreshadowing, which could even hint at Jimmy’s future of survival during and after the pandemic, in a global graveyard!

Glenn/Crake

None of the Maddaddam trilogy books really offer an explanation as to why Glenn chose to be Crake; the only thing mentioned is that the Red-Necked Crake is a relatively rare bird species. This could indicate that Crake had a type of superiority complex, though. However, I found indications that a Crake’s behaviour tends to be rather secretive. This is definitely related to Glenn’s behaviour, since throughout the trilogy he comes off to everyone as a rather mysterious person, and never really reveals his plans to anyone. Even the reader is left hanging and we never get a true glimpse into his thought process that led to him wiping out almost all of humanity.

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Toby/Inaccessible Rail

The Inaccessible Rail is yet another bird, except this one is flightless. Toby didn’t put too much thought into her choice, yet when I picked apart the details I was able to find some connections (although some might accuse me of grasping at straws!). One slightly entertaining aspect of Rails is that they’re pretty territorial, and while Toby comes across in general as the wise mother figure to the group, she gets very jealous and protective over Zeb once they start being in a relationship. Similarly, Rails form permanent pair bonds, which again is connected to Zeb who was even convinced to settle down with her. Considering that Zeb introduced Toby to Maddaddam and that they eventually fall in love, Atwood seems to have picked an appropriate creature for her.

Zeb/Spirit Bear

Spirit Bears are a special type of black bear that have a rare gene that makes them white.  As the name suggests, they have a spiritual significance to Native Americans. They are revered and protected, and as such killing them is taboo. This sort of legendary status surrounding them definitely relates to how the Crakers love, respect, and to some extent worship Zeb, in my opinion. I think that it’s also significant that Adam gave Zeb this nickname. It appears to me that it reflects Adam’s perception of Zeb, which would be one of a big brother wanting to protect his little brother; but it could simply be Adam finding a clever way of mocking Zeb’s Bearlift adventures. Regardless, Zeb seems undeniable connected to bears, as he himself admits that his meditation animal was the bear he ate when stranded in the wilderness.

Overall, it seems to me that Atwood was able to cleverly use animals that reflected their characters at least a little. What do you think? Is there truth to this, or is it mere conspiracy? Are there any links to the behaviour and character of Swift Fox, Oryx, Lotis Blue, Ivory Bill, and the rest of the Maddaddamites?


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Making a Difference: Passively or Aggressively?

Throughout the Maddaddam trilogy, we see characters who act either passively to fulfill their objectives, or act in more direct and aggressive manners. For this article, I’m going to mention two we see a lot of in Maddaddam, Jeb and Adam. Both Jeb and Adam are actively trying to pursue a similar goal, yet are very different when it comes to their strategy. This begs the question of which is the more effective method.

In looking at an example that’s both applicable to the real world, and the Maddaddam world, one of the best is the example of protests. Protests, for any reason and by any group, tend to either be passive/calm, while others take what can be described as a more aggressive course of action, consisting of marches, strikes, and boycotts, with riots being a part of the far extreme of acts of protests.

 

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Both passive acts and aggressive acts can fail or succeed, with the latter tending to be much more controversial, as we can consider Zeb’s acts to be more controversial than the methods of the quiet Adam. Zeb believes in taking direct action, often resorting to violence and getting involved in the underworld that is the deep Pleeblands. Adam is much quicker to wait and think, preferring to lightly influence and wait for the change to come.

I believe it entirely depends on the context of the situation. For example, in today’s society, the more aggressive methods tend to receive the most attention, and in a world where the most attention gathering stories make traction, your goals will typically require attention to survive. And in the world of Maddaddam, it seems that passive movements are no longer a viable option. Protests of Happicuppa ended with gunshots and deaths, and even having dissent ends with death as seen by the fate of Crake’s father. However, it’s still important to give praise to Adam and his Gardeners, who ended up making a large impact with mainly passive efforts.

Nevertheless. the world has been significantly changed by both passive methods and aggressive methods, for better or worse. Which is better, to reach into the world and change it, or to gently encourage it into a better direction?

Image sources:

http://www.loe.org/content/2014-06-13/21-atwood-cover.png

http://www.trbimg.com/img-58246aaf/turbine/ct-donald-trump-protests-20161109

 

 


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VEGANS VS NON-VEGANS

In The Year of The Flood, God’s gardeners are against the idea of eating animal based foods. They practice a vegetarian diet in order to honor and preserve animal and plant life.

A vegan is someone who follows a diet that contains no animal meat, fish, eggs, dairy products or any other food that comes from animals. They differ from vegetarians who generally still eat dairy and eggs as part of their diets. By not consuming any animal products, vegans follow a dietary path similar to an herbivore, while meat eaters are typically omnivores which mean they eat both plants and animals.

People on a vegan diet tend to be leaner. In a cross sectional study of nearly 40 000 adults, meat eater had the highest body mass index (BMI). Vegetarians were in the middle and vegans had the lowest. Vegans appear to have lower rates of hypertension than both meat eaters and vegetarians and lower a cardiometabolic risks for conditions like heart disease or strokes.

 

If you are interested, this is a TED talk about a plant based nutrition:

 

The problem however doesn’t seem to be with meat itself but rather with the quality of meat. Recent finding have found that coronary heart disease problems do not seem to be linked with red meat and saturated fats like previously thought, but rather with processed meats. While there certainly may be some health advantages in going vegan, there seems to be some common in the diet. One of these deficiencies is with the vitamin B-12. According to the ADA, a plant-based diet does not contain a significant amount of vitamins. With vegans requiring supplements to meet their nutritional needs, it may seem that veganism is unnatural, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s unhealthy.

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At this point, some of you may be wondering which diet leads to longer life spans. None of these two diets have an effect on a human’s life span. The optimal human diet can be achieved without going completely vegan. Many health organizations, including the ADA, state that well-planned vegan diets are healthy and nutritional adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. It seems like no matter what your dietary preferences are, a healthy lifestyle can be achieved o or off a vegan diet.

Are you a vegan? Would you ever consider becoming a vegan?

 

 


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How will the Apocalypse happen?

 

At one point in our lifetime, we all see some type of crazy homeless man waving a sign around that says the end is near! Now of course if you knew any better you would just simply ignore that crazy homeless guy and get on with the rest of your day, but I’m not like most people. When I see someone wave a sign around telling me the end is here and I am going to die very soon, I get nervous and I overthink the situation and begin to believe that this crazy old man is right and I may die a horrific death. So, another thought that comes to mind when I’m in that situation is how is the apocalypse going to happen? I don’t know about you, but when I think about apocalypse the first thing that comes to mind is Zombies! Of course, there are many other ways the apocalypse may happen.

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In the MaddAddam trilogy, it happens with a virus created by Crake that wipes out what seems to be the entire the planet. Now, something like this can very well happen today but it is much more likely for it to happen at the hands of an evil person or corporation. The optimistic part of me says that this would never happen in today’s world we just aren’t that cruel, but there is a tiny voice inside of my head that is telling me that there is still a possibility that the government is indeed creating diseases for profit.

 

The most concerning way the world can end for me would have to be the man-made apocalypse. With the new president of the united states saying how much he loves nuclear weapons and with the budget changes made to the U.S. Military, the odds of nuclear war have risen quite a bit. Albert Einstein once said that if world war 3 happens, world war 4 will be fought with sticks and stones.

 

There is also the possibility of a meteor hitting earth and completely wiping out all of life on earth. This event is completely out of our control and if it does happen there is absolutely nothing that we can do to stop it from happening. It would only take a meteor 6 miles wide to do the job! Now that being said, the earth gets hit by meteors all the time and we are still here! But the universe is a pretty big place filled with billions of meteors that can end our planet at any moment.

 

So what do you think? do you think there is a chance of the apocalypse happening in our lifetime? If so, how do you think it is going to happen?


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CANCER: DISEASE OR BUSINESS?

The grim reality of things is that each and every one of us knows at least one person that has been affected by cancer, some of whom have lost their battles and some of which have “beat” this disease, but have you every really thought about how cancer is something other than a disease?

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The Leukemia & Lymphona Society claims that in 2016 $49.3 MILLION was invested into research. This is one organization out of millions that exist to raise money for cancer. This is money that is dumped into the cancer world on top of whatever else is spent on treatment, medications and such.

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In both Oryx & Crake and The Year of the Flood, we are exposed to the realities of big corporations creating the need for medication and treatment. It truly sickens me to think that a fiction novel could actually reflect such real issues. At the end of the day everyone wants a couple of extra dollars in their pockets, and if that will only happen as a result of ripping someone off then so be it. I’m not here to say that cancer is fake and that it is only something that has been fabricated with the intentions to make money, but on the other hand, I do believe that there are some things that are not adding up. According to Bigthink.com, since 1971 $500 billion dollars has been put into the “War on Cancer”, but still there has been so significant advancement for treatment or even a mere cure. The most common options given to those with cancer are Chemotherapy, or pump yourself up with drugs with the hopes that you’ll get better.

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Is this not ringing a bell? Are we not making some concrete connections? Diseases were created in the book in order to sell medication that would “cure” patients. I’m sure many of us can wind back the clock to a couple of years back to the Swine Flu. I sure do, I remember the panic that surrounded the whole epidemic. I remember my parents being afraid to send me to school, I remember that painful vaccination I was given, and then after a couple of months I don’t remember hearing anything about it.

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Remembering that everything we hear must be taken with a grain of salt, I explore this “conspiracy” or idea to merely open the floor to the possibility that the world that the novel presents us isn’t so far away from the world we’re currently living in.

 

 

Sources:

-https://www.lls.org/who-we-are/financials (Leukemia & Lymphoma Stats)

-https://www.tenor.co/view/financial-spending-classes-before-money-gif-3547985 (The Office gif)

-http://bigthink.com/devil-in-the-data/the-never-ending-war-on-cancer (Cancer Stats)

-https://www.popsugar.com/tech/What-Roll-Safe-Thinking-Meme-43122009 (Thinking Meme)

-http://www.medicaldaily.com/generic-pill-size-and-shape-could-determine-whether-patient-will-adhere-medication-regimen-292958 (Pills Photo)

-http://giphy.com/gifs/homer-simpson-the-simpsons-bush-4pMX5rJ4PYAEM (Homer Simpson Disappearing)

 

 


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Anti-don’t: The Problem with Antibiotics

It’s a refrain heard continuously in The Year of the Flood and even more prevalently in Oryx and Crake: Don’t get infected, because it’ll be the end of you. Inevitably, it’s disease that kills the world, and infection that kills Jimmy in a slow, painful death. Despite the continuous referencing to the problems of new diseases and increasingly deadly microbes, I noticed that it wasn’t really mentioned by its true name: antibiotic resistance.

So, what is antibiotic resistance?

It’s a pretty simple concept. When you take an antibiotic, it doesn’t really target a specific bacteria in your system. Instead, it wipes out most of the ones it comes into contact with. Keyword: most. Some bacteria are ‘lucky’ enough to have a genetic mutation that lets them survive this attack. Because they’re not dead, and all the bacteria it was competing with are gone, they can multiply as much as they please.

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Why is this a concern? We have other drugs to kill them, right?

We do! The problem is that these drugs work in the same way. They might kill the ones resistant to lesser drugs, but eventually the same thing will happen.
To make things worse, we’ve plateaued in terms of antibiotic discoveries, and we’re starting to find bacterium resistant to the ‘last resort’ drug in over 10 countries. To add to that, antibiotic resistance is killing 700 000 people per year, and we’re on track to have it wiping out 10 million in 2015! You can read more about this and get a more detailed story of the current situation here.

Orxy and Crake and the Underlying Causes of Resistance

There are two words that can encapsulate why this is becoming a huge problem: Overprescription and Antiseptics.  But let’s look at this through Oryx and Crake‘s world. In the compounds, nearly everything is artificial, and the pursuit of health and youth has led to incessant pill-popping. Everything is also highly sterilized: as a kid, Jimmy had to walk through ‘toxic disinfectants’ in order to prevent getting sick.  This overindulgence is  what kills Jimmy, in an indirect way: he injects himself with one of the most powerful cure-all medications -Crake’s pleeblands vaccine- to fix his infected foot, yet it does nothing. Basically, the over-prescription and consumption of drugs is what makes disease so effective in Atwood’s world- it’s highly evolved and subsequently lethal.

You might be thinking that it’s not an issue today. Surely we don’t consume so many drugs to make it like in the book?

Well, the reality is debatable, but some facts make it pretty clear. Some estimates put overprescription for illnesses as banal as sore throats as high as 60%, and the food industry alone uses over 63 000 metric tons of antibiotics. Doesn’t sound so insignificant now, does it?

Why aren’t the Pleeblanders Affected as much as Compounders?

I also noticed that antibiotic resistance and infection were a huge concern for the Compound people, but it wasn’t really a serious issue amongst pleeblanders. In The Year of the Flood, non-compounders are concerned with disease, but they don’t take measures as drastic as the compounders. They certainly don’t need vaccines just to go visit someplace, like Jimmy and Crake do!

The answer is a bit ironic, but studies done even today are confirming this: exposure, rather than sterility, is the best medicine for the prevention of allergies, asthma, and even potentially disease. If you play in the dirt, you’re exposing your immune system to (usually) low-grade irritants and infections, which builds up an effective response. This “training” helps when you confront something more serious; your body is more likely to fight it off. Tragically, the compounders are obsessed with fighting this reality, and because of their sterile world they depend on fallible drugs to keep them healthy.

If they all lived like the God’s Gardeners, would they be able to avoid this ultimate downfall? Or has Atwood’s world (and indeed our own) been twisted past the point where our natural systems can compensate for our artifice? But what we can say for certain is that in the long run, the cure-all isn’t always the true cure, whether it’s through resistance, or a corporation looking to deliberately infect people for the sake of profit.

Sources:
https://qz.com/657514/superbugs-could-kill-10-million-people-by-2050-if-a-lot-of-things-dont-change-fast/
http://www.theverge.com/2015/9/3/9256955/allergies-asthma-farm-kids-dust-endotoxins-a20
http://www.marketwatch.com/story/why-your-kids-should-eat-dirt-2016-06-15