Scientific Aesthetic Cont.

Crake’s goal of creating “the new human race” creates a race which resembles humans, but is so different that they are obviously a different species, inside and out. Crake’s new species of people include everything which they could biologically need to survive, including UV resistant skin, heightened immunity, and insect repellent build into their systems. However, as Crake goes on, what they won’t have starts to come out:

“…as there would never be anything for these people to inherit, there would be no family trees, no marriages, and no divorces. They were perfectly adjusted to their habitat, so they would never have to create houses or tools or weapons, or, for that matter, clothing. They would have no need to invent any harmful symbolisms, such as kingdoms, icons, gods, or money. Best of all, they recycled their own excrement…” (page 305).

Crake is proud of himself here for eliminating what he deems humanity’s most harmful and self-destructive traits, but here he’s deemed all human culture and society harmful and superfluous, disregarding any arguments for the good those things bring. Gods can give people comfort and houses are useful for both storage and shelter, but Crake believes that his new species doesn’t need any of these things and doesn’t deign to give them to the Crakers.

This makes it almost more tragic that Snowman is the one Crake tells to take care of the Crakers. Snowman’s life has been focused on the arts and human culture, learning Shakespeare and the classics as a big part of his schooling. Crake didn’t care for any of that, but he knew that Snowman’s sentimentality would lead him to protect his new species of super-non-humans. Snowman is lost in this new world created by Crake, but he holds on to what he knows and out of spite passes what he can down to the Crakers, so that they won’t lose all culture forever.

Intelligent Design

For a self proclaimed atheist, Crake has no problem playing god. I noticed during Snowman’s description of the Children of Crake’s mating rituals the amusing irony of creatures so intelligently designed. The Children have wide range of traits, drawn from all varieties of living things, all to support the lifestyle that Crake deemed ideal. However, this pick and choose must come attached with some evolutionary drawbacks that Crake never considered or are at least never mentioned. In terms of viability, the Crakers may be genetically stable for now, but in the future? Crake clearly intended that they inherit the earth, but there is no way to account for the millenia of evolution that will follow. He has built a society perfect for the moment, pre-tailored for its environment, but life is not static. Crake’s “genius” comes at the cost of essentialist mindset and the intelligence of his designs are a moot point. They will not last. He has tried to stop a river by throwing a stone into it. Crake represents what I see as biggest flaw of the theory of intelligent design; a perspective limited to the present.

Intelligent design seems predicated on the idea that there is some natural state of order, that life was constructed to fit. A set of species occupying niches in a preordained scheme. This is nonsense. Any glimpse into the actual ecologies of evolution shows an almost unintelligible mess of competing forces. Consider for example (and excuse its crassness) the problem of birds’ balls. Birds, like all other vertebrates, have testicles. However, they are warm blooded, like mammals. Now, because mammals are warm blooded and sperm can only be produced at a temperature lower than the body’s resting heat, testicles are an external organ. But they aren’t on birds. Birds are warm blooded, yet all of their reproductive organs are internal. There is no explanation for why birds were able to adapt to internalized sperm production and mammals were not. Intelligent design offers nothing close to a solution and in evolutionary theory it only highlights the intense randomness of it all.

If we look at things like Crake then perhaps this is another evolutionary gaffe to be “fixed,” but we have an opportunity to take a more sophisticated approach. To look at evolution, and life itself, as a process rather than a conclusion. Traits do not have a purpose, despite what Crake seemed to think, they are an expression of the conditions of the environment, and representations of the unimmaginable variability of living things.

Bankruptcy

 

My post talks a bit about time and the multiverse theory briefly, with possible connections to string theory. (The multiverse theory is said to be more of a hypothesis for a theory, but that’s not the point).

In Nooners Snowman begins to think of his time, calling it a bankrupt idea. He has all of this time-markers of moments throughout the history of the universe- but no matter what he does, it continues to move at it’s own pace. While time gives us distinction between moments so Snowman can recall the first time he believes he saw Oryx, the arrow of time is what gives us the feeling of progress. The arrow of time is why we are born young and die old, why an egg can be made into an omelette but an omelette can never be made into an egg. The arrow of time is why we believe we cannot travel into our past. Possession over time is an odd concept to me. Our future is the universes past and the arrow of time will progress until maximum entropy is achieved and our universe becomes a static universe in which no arrow of time exists and human life cannot exist. Snowman seems to acknowledge this on some level when he says that having ownership over time is a bankrupt idea.

This is a bit scattered since I have a lot of  ideas about time/arrow of time/multiverse theory/string theory and the books we’ve read this semester, but I hope it makes sense.