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.

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?

Audience?

When I write a post, I rarely think about who may read it. I write for the sake of writing. Day four of Blogging Fundamentals asks that I consider who I am writing for, who is my audience. Now, that’s a good question.

If I was to target my writing to a particular audience, what would that audience be? It could be my family, I have a blog that is primarily focused on them, but it also has a secondary audience of family historians, it can be found at georginaadams.com.

In this post, I suppose I am writing for myself and anyone else who is following along with Blogging Fundamentals. I am creating this site, Courtney Jester, Born to Challenge, to publish my contemporary visual and writing arts. Some of these things have been mouldering in my bookshelf for years and I am hoping that putting them out in the virtual world will inspire me to write more.

As I am writing, I find myself answering my own question, something that often happens. I guess that is, of itself, another answer. In writing, I clarify my thinking and answer my own questions so my audience is myself.

Who am I writing for? Myself, other contemporary visual artists and writers, and other blogging enthusiasts interested in honing their blogging skills. Something to keep in mind.

Tagline or no tagline

Day two of fundamentals and I’m asked to write a tag line for my site. Unfortunately, this site doesn’t display a tagline so we will have to use our imagination.

If I had a tagline, what would it be? Born to challenge says it all really, a tag line should add to the heading, not repeat it. Perhaps it could be a warning. Born to challenge – get ready to run. Now this gives the impression that you do not want to be challenged, or that the challenge will be something to be avoided. I don’t like it.

How about Born to challenge – open to change. Now that sounds much better. It doesn’t say you have to change. Being challenged is not about being wrong. Being challenged can lead you right back to where you started but now with reasons for being where you are. Being challenged can take you anywhere you are willing to go.

Remember:

The mind is like a parachute – it works better when it is open – Anon

Note: Since writing this post I have added a domain name and migrated to commercial hosting. Born to challenge is now the tagline for courtneyjester.com.

CJ

Who I am and why I’m here

I am Courtney Jester, at least that is the name I use when writing or rhyming. I engage in many different activities, most of which are creative. I like to have something to show for my time, I don’t play games (in the real or virtual world). I am not a game player or a team player.

I have many blogs, and I might direct you to some in time but for now, I am exploring WordPress as a medium somewhere between a blog and a traditional website. Not that anything in the virtual world can genuinely last long enough to use that weighty, time laden word, tradition, but if you’re the kind of geek that I am, and have been around in cyberspace as long as I have, you will know what I mean.

I am always looking for a newer, and better way of doing things, or as I often say longer-harder-faster-more, so when I discovered WordPress Learning the Fundamentals I decided to go back to the start and give it a go. I am never shy of starting over, learning the same thing from the beginning again always plugs up holes in knowledge that I never knew were there.

So it’s that simple. I’m here to follow along the beginner’s path. See you tomorrow.