Tag Archives: genetics

Never Let me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro – Book Review

Never Let me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Never-Let-Me-Go-Audiobook/B00LCHY9AM?qid=1618125902&sr=1-1&ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_1&pf_rd_p=c6e316b8-14da-418d-8f91-b3cad83c5183&pf_rd_r=E7DR700310ZFRFNCR62W

Summary:

In one of the most acclaimed novels of recent years, Kazuo Ishiguro imagines the lives of a group of students growing up in a darkly skewed version of contemporary England.
Narrated by Kathy, now 31, Never Let Me Go dramatizes her attempts to come to terms with her childhood at the seemingly idyllic Hailsham School and with the fate that has always awaited her and her closest friends in the wider world. A story of love, friendship, and memory, Never Let Me Go is charged throughout with a sense of the fragility of life.

My Review:

Hailsham is a seemingly idyllic setting for privileged boys and girls. It is a boarding school with acres of land, in which the welfare of the children and their education is overseen by “the Guardians”.

Cathy and her friends are encouraged to produce art, the best of which is taken away by “Madame”.

As the novel progresses, the reader is left with a growing sense of unease. Why is “Madame” fearful of the children? And why does she take their best work away to “the gallery”?

There is no cruelty at Hailsham, yet Miss Lucy seems troubled and attempts to communicate to Cathy and her friends something of their fate when they leave Hailsham.

As the story unfolds, we learn (following the departure of the students from Hailsham), of “carers” and “donors”. Every student from Hailsham (and the other institutions in England) must take their turn caring for donors, before themselves becoming donors.

The children reared at Hailsham, and other similar institutions are clones whose purpose is to provide organs to non-clones.

Much of the horror of the story lies in the euphemisms employed to describe horrific acts. The word donor implies a willing person who provides a kidney or other organ for reasons of altruism. However, in Never Let Me Go the students/clones have no option other than to furnish their body parts. Again, donors do not die, rather they “complete”.

There is no mention of any secret police in the novel. Therefore it is not clear how the state ensures that the clones fulfil their destiny and donate organs. Donors are not (as in Huxley’s Brave New World) subjected to intensive conditioning, yet there is no indication that any try to avoid their fate. This is, for me an issue with what is, in general a very well written novel. It seems almost incredible that none of the clones would attempt to rebel against the system.

There is talk by Ruth, Cathy, Tommy and other students about the possibility of students who have produced great art being, somehow able to defer their fate as donors, particularly if they can demonstrate that they are in love. To find out whether this is, in fact the case, you will need to read the book.

Mix

A mix
Of limbs
And diverse sins.
Some get their kicks
From rhyme.
Time
Passes
For lads and lasses.
Bodies intertwine
Genes travel on
Though we are gone,
Whilst others leave a rhyme
Behind, for posterity to find.

Daily Prompt – JusJoJan the 7th, 2020

When Scientists Have Analysed You and Me

When scientists have analysed you and me,
To the nth degree,
And found that there is nothing ethereal
And we are merely
Genetic material,
What will be
Left of you and me
Save for genes
And mechanical dreams?

Windswept

Windswept
He almost wept
At the impermanence of things.

Day brings
On the night.
Rome once shone bright.
Man’s desire
For empire
And a girl’s bright
Eyes
Soon dies.

This table
So stable
Must go.
The wind will blow
And snuff out the light
Bringing down the eternal
Night.

There is no fiend infernal
Just the knowledge that I
And all things will,
One day die.
Would that my mind
Could be still.

In humankind
We find
The wish to procreate,
Ere it is too late
And our candle dies.

Man sighs
In a girl’s arms.
The wind will blow.
Her charms
(And his) must go
But perchance
Passion’s dance
Will leave one behind
To walk on a windswept day
And know
That as the wind does blow
All this will pass away.

Why When?

Why when
Middle-aged men
See young women
Are they drawn to them?
Tis the fear
Of the Reaper, who draweth slowly near.

Tis a dread
Of being dead,
Of dust
That causes them
To satiate their lust
In thought and sometimes deed
For the seed
Lives on
After we are gone.

Who is the I in I?

On Tuesday evening (23 May), I had dinner with 2 old friends. During the course of our conversation my friend, Jeff asked “Who is the I in I”? My response was that we are composed of a mix of genetic data inherited from our parents, environmental influences and the culture we absorb from a young age. All of these factors, I said, help to determine who the I in I is.

The snippet of conversation related above, reminded me of my poem “Genes” which is reproduced below:

“Are we just our genes
Means
To a meaningless conclusion,
A confusion of arms, legs and bed?
The head
Is often overruled
By the fool
Lust.
Into eternity we thrust
Desperately hoping to leave one of our kind
Behind
Ere our dalliance ends in dust”.

(“Genes” can be found in my collection of poetry, “Refractions”, which is available, as a Kindle download in the Amazon Kindle store).

North Korea is Murdering People With Disabilities North Korean Defector Says

On 30 November I published a post entitled “Lets Talk About Eugenics”, (http://newauthoronline.com/2014/11/30/lets-talk-about-eugenics/). In that piece I wrote about how eugenics has been embraced by people with divergent political views, including leading socialists, conservatives, liberals and, in the most extreme manifestation of eugenic measures Nazi Germany.

Eugenics lead, in it’s most virulent form to the Action T-4 Programme (http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/t4.html) under which the Third Reich sterilised and murdered thousands of disabled people. One would hope that the attitudes which lead to Action T-4 perished with the defeat of Hitler’s Germany. However according to defectors from North Korea the killing of people with disabilities continues apace, (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2869792/Dwarfs-castrated-babies-left-suffer-horrific-deaths-Defector-claims-North-Korea-purging-disabled-population-humiliate-regime.html), with the disabled being used as guinea pigs in medical experiments and being forceably removed from their parents. Words such as horrific can not do justice to the barbarity of what the North Korean regime is inflicting on people with disabilities and the populace in general.