Pleeblandia

Thoughts from the front lines


1 Comment

A New Beginning

The idea of a new beginning along with the theme of starting over are what drive the plot of Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam. Throughout the story, the humans as well as the Crakers attempt to create a new life for themselves in a world destroyed by the waterless flood and now inhabited by dangerous painballers. Restarting society is a theme that is also very prominent in the real world, namely in countries that suffer massive disasters, whether they be natural or man made.

In terms of natural disasters, the 2010 Haiti earthquake was devastating, and forced an already poor Haitian society to restart from scratch. The earthquake had a catastrophic magnitude of 7.0 Mw and affected an estimated 3 million people. At least 52 aftershocks of 4.5 Mw or higher were recorded prior to the initial earthquake and the death toll ranged between 100,000 and 160,000 people. Additionally, 250,000 residential buildings and 30,000 commercial buildings collapsed or were severely damaged. Immediately, many countries and organizations came to Haiti’s rescue by pledging funds and sending medical and rescue teams as well as engineers.

pic 1

Unlike the group in MaddAddam, Haiti received a lot of help from many different sources, and although the country is still recovering from the natural disaster, they have and still are rebuilding much faster thanks to the external help.

In terms of manmade disasters, the nuclear bombs dropped on the Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6th and 9th of 1945 were perhaps the most destructive and tragic disasters in human history. This was the first time ever that weapons of this magnitude were used, and they were deployed by the United States military under President Truman in the final stage of World War II. Although the initial explosion was devastating, the worst part came later as radiation exposure continued to affect people many years after.

pic 2

This aspect can be compared to MaddAddam. Both the bombs and the disease created by Crake were manmade. Additionally, they both continued to have large impacts after they were initially used. Much like how the effects of radiation exposure were passed on from generation to generation, the disease created by Crake was passed from person to person and its effects are still very notable in the third book of the trilogy.

It therefore appears as though manmade disasters tend to be more catastrophic than those that are natural due to the fact that their effects seem to last much longer. While the earthquake in Haiti is definitely still having negative impacts on the country, its effects will certainly not last as long as those created by the nuclear bombs used against Japan in 1945.

Thankfully, over time, Japan was able to rebuild their societies in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Haiti is also in the process of rebuilding their society, much like the group in MaddAddam is having success in rebuilding theirs. It therefore seems as though societies will always rebuild no matter how badly they are destroyed.

Is there anything capable of completely ending societies, giving them no chance of resurgence?

 

Sources

“Earthquake in Haiti.” International Rescue Committee (IRC), 12 Jan. 2015, http://www.rescue.org/article/earthquake-haiti?ms=gg_nonb_hai_thre_NK_130503&gclid=Cj0KEQjwofHHBRDS0Pnhpef89ucBEiQASEp6LJMauSiijuUY-ELOaaFSGvGNfhvURKpKOcDkIRpk488aAjUV8P8HAQ.

History.com Staff. “Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2009, http://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/bombing-of-hiroshima-and-nagasaki.

 

 


5 Comments

Far from reality?

In her book The Maddaddams, Margaret Atwood describes the lives of the survivors of the waterless flood. This group of survivors is mostly made up of Gardeners and of Maddaddamites and a few lost painballers. They have no families left, they have to scavenge for food, they are under imminent threat all the times, and they have no beds. Basically none of their basic needs are met. When reading stuff like that, it’s hard to put ourselves in that situation. How do you think you would react to this new life? When I read what Atwood wrote, it’s hard for me to put myself in their shoes and imagine how I would react to having nothing to look forward to. What’s the point of trying if there’s no reward? That’s when I realised, there are people that are currently living like Atwood’s group of survivor. People living in war zones lives in very similar situation than the one Toby is in.

syriassyria

These images of Syria reminds me of what Toby describes in the book, the wrecked cars, the destroyed buildings, everything is quite similar. This is in no way a coincidence. Like everything else in the book, we are lead to believe that what happens in the book would never happen in real life, we wouldn’t let it. However, it is in fact happening every day. The people living in those conflict zones are in an even worse place than Toby as she currently is. In fact, there is about “five million people in Yemen, Somalia and northeast Nigeria, as well as areas of South Sudan where famine has already been declared” (Yemen and Somalia…). There is five million people that are being denied basic needs as I’m writing this at home, on my expensive computer, eating my expensive food, and after that going to sleep in my expensive bed. Atwood definitely put those similarity in her book to make us realize that they are people right now that are suffering and we are not even aware, nor even acknowledging it.

Cited

Atwood, Margaret. MaddAddam Trilogy. New York: Random House, 2013. Print

“Yemen and Somalia ‘months away’ from famine.” News | Al Jazeera, 22 Mar. 2017. Web

Further reading:

Fleming, Melissa, “The situation in Syria is only going to get worse … and here’s why.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 16 Feb. 2015. Web.


7 Comments

Life After Humans

Reading The MaddAddam Trilogy, fictional but based on our cruel reality, I keep wondering if Crake’s reason is right, whether it would be better off for the planet if humans disappeared.

Humans have been around for thousands and thousands of years, still some million years to go to beat the dinosaurs. We have made more progress (assumingly) than those reptiles: we have built structures, we have developed technology, etc.; but what if one day, all of us vanished, what would happen to all of those?

  • 1 day: lights are out. Most power plants without people to generate would shut down (except for hydro: they have limitless fuel to work by themselves). Plus, no worries for any radiation meltdown from nuclear power plants… yet. Subway/metro tunnels would be flooded after 36 hours.subway-flooded-635x357
  • 10 days: hard time for house pets: no one feeding them. Small dogs would be more likely to die first. They are princes and princesses waiting around to be fed. So consider getting a big one as in case you disappeared, they could get out and follow their natural instincts (my advice: huskies).
  • 1 year: plants start taking roots in our structures, and “once the tree roots…take hold, no human-built structure stands a chance” (Atwood 32). Remember those hydropower plants I mentioned? Now they would completely shut down as mussels would block the generators’ cooling pipes.
  • 20 years: wildlife would be thriving already: vegetation => herbivores => carnivores. Look at the Chernobyl disaster 20 years later.chernobyl2
  • 75 years: cars would completely corrode (it would take 20-25 years if they were at coastal cities like Miami). I wonder why there are piles of corroded cars if it has been only 1-2 years after the apocalypse in the books.
  • 100 years: no one (no aliens) would know our modern-time history as books, films would go back to dirt. It is not like they were carved in clay or stone walls like in ancient time.
  • 500 years: all buildings and infrastructure would go down.
  • 1,000 years: cities would become jungles.
  • 10,000 years: Great Wall of China, Great Pyramid of Giza, and Mount Rushmore might be the only evidence of human structures left behind.

Our time on Earth is short: only haft a minute of the planet’s life on a 24-hour scale, but look at the damages we have done.  Do you think Crake is right, about our problems coming from our greed? Everything has a golden age, do you think there would be such things as our replacements?

 

Find out more

 

de Vries, David; Hense, Jim; Cohen, Douglas; Kosa, Frank; Dolan, Sam; and Georgalis, Savas. Life After People. Top Documentary Films, topdocumentaryfilms.com/life-after-people.

AsapSCIENCE. “What If Humans Disappeared?” www.youtube.com/watch?v=guh7i7tHeZk&t=1s

“Nature Is Speaking.” Conservation International, www.youtube.com/watch?v=WmVLcj-XKnM&t=4s

Gammon, Katharine. “A Brief History of Dinosaurs.” Live Science, www.livescience.com/3945-history-dinosaurs.html.


1 Comment

The Imperfection of Perfection

As I was reading The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood, I couldn’t help but be shocked at how the theme of perfection was so present in the book just like in Oryx and Crake.

As you all know, Crake planned to completely erradicate humans in order to introduce genetically modified indiviuals that he considered to be “perfect”. Crake saw huge flaws in humans and came to the conclusion that the only way to help humanity would be to start everything over with “superior beings”. I find it ironic that Crake wished to help humankind but instead he just killed them all (or most of them anyhow) including himself. He believed that introducing “perfect humans” would help humanity but the people he created cannot be considered human at all…

This got me thinking a lot and I decided to write this blog about the flaws that exist in trying to attain perfection. Hope you enjoy this read!

Society…

Nowadays we live in a society where we are constantly reminded that we shoud aspire to be as perfect as we can be…

Going from trying to reach physical perfection to intellectual perfection through our education…the constant reminder of perfection being the way to go is always there.

Now you can either look at this and torture yourself on a daily basis to try and reach these unrealistic expectations or you can simply lay back and tell yourself that the whole idea of perfection is imperfect in itself.

Image result for perfection is not real

Why is that?

Like psychotherapist Mel Schwartz thinks: “I’ve come to see that their (people’s) pursuit of perfection is really a disguise for their insecurity. It becomes a statement that I’m not good enough just as I am. When we do that, we judge ourselves.”

Schwartz believes that those who tend to want to reach perfection are just trying to catch up to the people around them that they consider somehow superior to them. Such people have most likely been told in the past that they were not good enough (either by others or even by themselves) and therefore think that the only way to live without any reproach from the rest of the word would be to become perfect.

This is a ridiculous misconception.

Image result for perfection is not real

What if?

Let’s take some time to analyze how people would react if it somehow was possible to reach perfection:

Imagine someone you knew somehow “succeded” in becoming perfect. Theoretically, such person would be praised for being so excellent at everything they do, but in reality, someone that perfect would pretty much be hated by everyone. This is because seeing someone “perfect” would be a daily reminder once again that we are not perfect ourselves. People would be jealous of such perfection and come to despise that person for being something that they have always strived to be.

This is all assuming everyone knowing this person also want to become perfect.

Now let’s look at it from another perspective :

Someone “perfect” could be also viewed as boring and not special at all. If you think about it, perfection means that all flaws have been surpassed and that there is no room for improvement anymore. In other words, this perfect person can be seen as not living life anymore. The purpose of life is to improve and better ourselves on a daily basis without trying to attain perfection, because perfection simply does not exist. If we were already perfect, then there would be nothing to distinguish ourselves. In other words, we would have no individuality.

A perfect world with perfect people would be composed of beings that are all the same, meaning that they have all reached the unreachable of what we see as perfection.

Isn’t that a scary thought though? 

Being surrounded by people who are exactly the same as you would be no fun at all and it would take away everything there is that makes us humans.

Like Schwartz said once again: “The closest thing to perfection is in the ability to be fully present. Without any distracting thoughts, measuring or grading ourselves, we’re free to really be in the moment.”

Put in other words, the only time we are truly alive is when we stop judging ourselves and decide to live in the present.

Image result for you were made to be real not perfect

THE CLOSEST THING TO PERFECTION IS NOW.

A perfectionist is contantly looking back on past decisions and worrying about the future. This takes away from being fully present right in this moment.

“The pursuit of perfection limits our ability to be present and literally robs us of the vitality of life. It is unachievable, unimaginable and frankly undesirable, so why pursue it?”

I believe our time would be better spent in this life if we all decided to stop focusing on this unrealistic view of perfection and decided instead to just better ourselves and become the best version of ourselves that we can be.

Don’t get me wrong, being the best version of yourself does not mean becoming perfect, it means embracing your flaws which makes you human and working on your insecurities while still keeping in mind that you are good enough just the way you are.

To conclude, perfection is terribly misplaced in society and people don’t realize that the idea of perfection is flawed in itself.

There is nothing wrong with trying to better yourself, but aspiring to become perfect is just a waste of time.

What is perfect anyways?

Ana Paula Facetti

……………………………………………………………..Read More………………………………………………………….

I invite you all to watch this short motivational video from the YouTube channel “Your World Within” that will hopefully change your views on perfection if you still thrive to achieve it. His words definitely hit me and also inspired me to write this blog:

Works Cited

Schwartz, Mel  “The Problem with Perfection”:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/shift-mind/200811/the-problem-perfection

 

 

 


6 Comments

Miserable childhood experience changes your whole life!

Oryx is from an ignorant, poor village in Southeast Asia. Because of the poverty, Oryx’s mother has to sell her to Uncle En. After that, Oryx sells roses, involves in child porn, was treated as a sex slave, and she meets Crake because of to provide him sex service. Therefore, Oryx has the chance to involved into the great cause of human destruction. For this character, I sympathize with her, the tragic childhood experience brought her great pain.

156871563849

I feel that Oryx has some weird thoughts. She even makes the excuse for those who exploit her. Remember when Jimmy is angry to those who exploit her and he says that he wants to kill the filmmaker? She just avoids talking about it. She makes me feel that Jimmy is unreasonable and he shouldn’t get angry. In one hand, it shows that she suffered too much that she used to the feeling of misfortune, on the other hand, it clearly shows that she is submissive and cowardly. She even says Uncle En is kind to her, so she appreciates him but I feel it’s weird. Obviously, Oryx isn’t the kind of great man like “love your enemy” or someone who has the Stockholm syndrome. Because of she doesn’t have a family, so it’s hard for her to find the value and the feeling of being needed. Therefore, to have the monetary value is the only way which can make her feel safe.

Oryx in the book has a really bad childhood experience. It is incredible that a child who has gone through so many bad things in her life could grow into a kind person after her growing up.

An example from our true life: Elizabeth Smart, was kidnapped when she was 14 years old and rescued after experienced nine months nightmare. Elizabeth bravely stood on the stage of TED, to tell people about her experience. Some of the traumas are permanent and do not disappear with the age.

Youtube video–My Story| Elizabeth Smart 11:36 minutes

References

Atwood, M. (2003). Oryx and Crake. Toronto: Vintage Canada. Print.

Smart, Elizabeth. (2014, January 31). My story. Youtube, retrieved from     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0C2LPXaEW4


2 Comments

Young man grants immortality! His methods will shock you!

Crake erased the Crakers’ fear of death, but has he given them a way to live?

Crake took it upon himself to become a god of sorts, a creator for a new and improved human race, the Crakers. He improved upon man’s physical body and took away from our minds what he deemed useless: art, religion and a fear of death. This, according to him, would make the Crakers perfect and immortal. What he forgot however, would cost him dearly. The Crakers aren’t numbers people. In fact, numbers the way Crake views them is a foreign and all too complicated concept for them.

Before numbers, before all the complexity of the world was understood, what did early man do? They made art. What did they do when they did not understand something? They interpreted it and created religion. What made man seize the day? Our fear of death shaped our very being. Crake said it himself, without one generation, humanity will collapse. With nobody to explain numbers, why did he expect the Crakers to not turn to the simplicity of interpretations?

Even now with all the technology around us, who amongst us is not prone to overthinking? Who here can claim that they do not interpret the world through their own eyes? Crake did so as well: he followed things to their logical conclusions, but from his own perspective. He ignored what makes us human, what differentiates us from the rest of the animal kingdom: our vast learning experiences, our critical thinking, our imagination.

mark-twain-life-and-death-quotes

 

Crake left the Crakers without any of what early man had, no art, no religion and no fear of death. Crake left the Crakers with no way to defend themselves against natural disasters since they would not fear death. He took away their way of understanding each other through art. He left them dead, without any way to truly live, without a way to understand themselves and the world around them in their own individual way. Then, they found art and started interpreting the world around them. In the end however, what did Crake intend the Crakers to do without art, without interpreting and understanding the world around them? Unable to use complex mathematics and unable to make sense out of everything they don’t know, what would they have done?

2ea5899498bf5b56cdc7c6a7ab342b61

Crake killed mortality, but to not fear death, one must be dead. Thus, the Crakers live.

 


2 Comments

Adam One Is Not Completely Wrong

In The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood, we discover the existence of a new religion and get to meet many new characters. One of the characters that intrigued me the most is Adam One. While I may not agree with most of his religious beliefs, I  believe that he is not speaking complete garbage. During two of Adam One’s speeches and two parts of The God’s Gardeners Oral Hymnbook,  the way humans treat animals is talked about. In this blog post, I will quote some of the things he said, provide additional insight, and briefly present what I think is one of the most amazing lifestyles: veganism.

In Adam One’s speech, he asks “why do we think that everything on Earth belongs to us, while in reality, we belong to Everything?” (p.53) Like Adam One, I ask myself this question every single day. Why do we believe that we are in some way superior to other creatures and that we are entitled to the enslavement of other species?

animals-are-not-for-us

Other species were not put on this Earth for us and they are not food. We managed to convince ourselves that we are superior because we know right from wrong which could not be more false. How is the enslavement of other species right? How are slaughterhouses okay in any way, shape, or form? How is it okay to keep destroying our environment because meat, dairy, and eggs “taste too good to give up”?  I do not see how humans are deemed “exceptional, alone in all Creation in having Souls,”  as Adam One says on page 53, if we are still mass murdering billions of land and marine animals.

I would also like to add that there is no such thing as humane meat, humane dairy, or humane eggs. Gary Yourofsky said it well: “There is no such thing as happy and humane slaughter just as there is no such thing as happy and human rape, happy and humane slavery, or happy and humane child molestation.” Many believe that free-range animal products are humane. They are not. Whether the animal was placed in a cage or was free to roam makes no difference because it is ultimately killed. Providing a ‘good’ life for animals does not make it okay for us to murder them later.

no-humane-way-to-commit-murder

Thinking we are better than other animals is not enough apparently. We also allow ourselves the privilege of determining which of the non-human animals are better than the others. “I love animals” is probably one of the sentences that I have heard the most and I see people fawning over cats and dogs on a daily basis.  However, we seem to cherry-pick the animals that are ‘worthy’ of this love and attention.

I invite you to listen to the speech of Gary Yourofsky, a vegan activist, to hear more about our treatment of animals. He is engaging and is very passionate about ALL animals’ rights. ( Gary Yourofsky – Best Speech You Will Ever Hear ) Warning: there is graphic content presented during the speech. But as Gary said: “If it’s not good enough for your eyes, why is it good enough for your stomach?”

I have good news, though! There is a way to end animal cruelty! Veganism!

The Vegan Society defines veganism as “A philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms, it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.”

Vegans do not consume meat, dairy, eggs, or honey; vegans do not wear wool, fur, silk, or leather; vegans do not use cosmetics containing animal ingredients and/or cosmetics that are tested on animals. Being a vegan means that you cause the least amount of harm possible to animals.

I think it is important that we stop seeing other animals as food and that we extend our circle of compassion beyond humans, dogs, and cats.

To put a twist on Crake’s “I think, therefore.” fridge magnet in Oryx and Crake:

I think, therefore I am vegan.

 

References

ADAPTT. All About Veganism – Chickens, Eggs, and the Free-Range Scam. Retrieved from: http://www.adaptt.org/veganism.html#

Atwood, M. (2010). The Year of the Flood. Toronto: Vintage Canada. Print.

The Vegan Society. Definition of Veganism. Retrieved from: https://www.vegansociety.com/go-vegan/definition-veganism