The COVID Kraken Wakes

Newly reread in the midst of Covid-19’s pandemic, The Kraken Wakes” holds some very interesting parallels. It is a classic sci-fi, written in 1953 by John Wyndham who is best known for “The Day of the Triffids”. The threat posed by the Kraken unwinds at a glacial pace as does the narrative. This is a clever device that aligns the reader’s frustration with the pace of the story to that of the protagonist.

Although the manifestation of the Kraken’s menace arises over the course of many years, any hope of an appropriate response to this menace is undermined by the inability of the human race to come to grips with an unfamiliar reality, not to their liking. The worse it gets, the further they descend into denial and wishful thinking. To the fictitious population the inevitable outcome, though patently obvious for some time before, comes as a great surprise.

The Kraken Wakes is an Anglo-centric tale as is the vista of this comparison. The writing style is old fashioned and the author’s prejudices, reflected in the patriarchal attitudes of the protagonist, are dated and at times painful but Wyndham’s keen perception of human nature is being agonizingly reflected on the current global stage that is Covid-19 in 2020.

Early scenes in the story occur in locations far removed from the Anglo’s domain and so events are viewed as novel and, perhaps even the result, of that ‘otherness’ that keeps ‘them’ apart from ‘us’. Not unlike our recent compassionate but aloof coverage of unfolding SARS, MARS, Swine-flu, and Ebola crises. The idea that any such thing could unfold ‘here’ is unimaginable, both in the novel and the recent here-and-now.

As the baffling threat materializes closer and closer to home, so begins the blame game. In the Cold War-era, it’s the Russians’ fault and of course, now it’s the Chinese. Attribution of blame completely ignores the fact that, as in our contemporary situation, those ‘others’ being blamed were the first affected by, and continue to share in equal quantity, this unintelligible peril. So goes the blame game.

Unhappy with the response or lack thereof of their own government, this fictitious population look for a Rescue Ranger. In the past as in the present, this role is awarded to ‘the Americans’, and here any resemblance to the present is lost. No one could possibly have foreseen the descent into chaos that has marked the USA’s current response to Covid-19, not even the “A village in Texas has lost its idiot” T-shirt designers. The world is watching with morbid fascination as Donald Trump trumps Kim Jong-un on the idiocy scale, and Americans die like flies.

There is however, one interesting parallel with modern USA. Very early in the Kraken Wakes narrative, an academic, one Dr Bocker, correctly interprets sparsely available data and attempts to warn the population of the emerging threat. He is ridiculed and ostracized by his peers even long after his theories are proven correct, the truth being too bitter a pill to swallow.

Here in July 2020, we appear to be between Part 2 and Part 3 of this story. Will civilization as we know it be forever altered? Will technology eventually find a way to beat this pandemic scourge or will it, like the Bubonic Plague, continue to make cameo appearances for the next 360 years?

Reading a novel, we can simply read to the end and in fiction, of course, there is a beginning, a middle, and an end that makes sense. Life is just a little more complicated than that. Moreover, reading this novel we can compress the many years into a few hours reading. Unfortunately, we are doomed to take, as the authors of time travel sci-fi would call it, the long way.

Of Mice and Rice

It wasn’t very nice,
When I reached for some rice,
Only to find that mice,
Had been eating said rice.

I could see that those mice,
Have stolen my rice,
Not once but twice,
Now that’s just not nice.

So here’s  my advice,
To those rice-eating mice,
Stay away from my rice,
Or pay the ultimate price.

By the way,
I hear heaven is nice,
For rice-eating mice.

CJ 2020

Covid-19’s Back

Choose health or wealth, choose health or wealth,
Economy won the day,
In a rush to make a buck,
Now Covid’s here to stay.



Open, shut them, open, shut them,
How can I keep track?
Open, shut them, open, shut them,
Covid-19’s back.



But you chose wealth, not health, yep wealth not health,
If only health had won the day
You’d’ve shut up shop for twice as long
But chased Covid away.



So …

Open, shut them, open, shut them,
How can I keep track?
Open, shut them, open, shut them,
Covid-19’s back.

Darkness

Would that you were blue
That way your world would have colour
You are the darkness

A black dog? I wish
Bright eyes, tongue, your tail wagging madly
No, darkness are you

Would that you were sad
Sadness has feeling, passion, pain
You bring only darkness

Even suicidal
Organisation is required for completion
Darkness just can’t grasp it

No, you are darkness
Impenetrable, warm, safe, insular
Darkness you are my friend

CJ 2016

Forbidden

It is forbidden to kill.

To kill by accident, or without intent, or in the passion of the moment, this is bad. To calculate, deliberate, decide, plan, and kill without compassion, this is absolutely forbidden. Is it?

We go to war. We train people in multiple ways to kill; deliberately, decisively, dispassionately; we pay them money to do so. We call them; soldiers, warriors, infantry, marines, guards, guerilla, mercenary, assassin, butcher, terrorist, or a thousand other euphemisms. The name depends only on whether we perceive advantage or disadvantage from the killing.

Americans believe they stand for freedom. They mistake libertarianism for universal freedom. The pinnacle of libertarianism is enshrined in American gun laws, the right to bear arms. Yet freedom can not exist without responsibility. I am free to drive my car down any part of any road, any time I choose, but what if I use that freedom to drive on the wrong side of the road, what then? If we all chose to drive all over the road, we would all lose the freedom to drive. Individual freedom can exist only when every individual agrees to limit that freedom. Only forbiddance allows freedom.

Gun laws. Does an individual right to own and use a gun infringe other individual’s right to safety? You need only compare homicide rates with gun ownership in two or three countries to see that there is a direct causal link, but by all means, compare every country in the world. America has one of the highest rates of homicide on planet earth.

Another kind of killing is the death penalty. It is hard to believe that there exists, even in first world countries, the belief that the killing of killers will teach other killers not to kill, or, even more unbelievable, that the killing of a killer will make amends for the killing.

Play is the gift evolution gives to all animals, in order to practice and hone skills that will ensure the animal’s survival. The human-animal currently spends the greatest effort, in time, money and other resources, to create games that practice the one skill that will ensure their non-survival – killing. It calls these ‘games’.

It is forbidden to kill, isn’t it?

Convict Story

As part of the University of Tasmania’s Diploma of Family History, I had to research an Australian Convict. We used a site http://www.ourfamilypast.com  to create an interactive story, which served as our major assignment. Access was provided as part of the course but ongoing access costs US$59 per anum for 500MB or US$149 for 5GB, I don’t know about you, but I think that’s pretty expensive. It’s more than I’m prepared to pay.

I have uploaded it to this FREE WordPress account, as a series of nested pages. Maybe I’ll research another convict. No doubt I will have to do so when the follow-up unit is available. I am really enjoying the course.

Read the story of Convict 634, Mary Harvey here.

Cheers