Atwood’s modifiedfuturistic world focuses on the developments of projects that resist diseasesand alter the course of aging. These technological advancements separatescientific achievement and artistic ability.
Societal obsession with expandinglifespans organized projectslike Operation Immortality in order to develop treatments and enhanceappearance. Genographers, likeJimmy’s father, are prioritized in the scientific field in order to furtherdevelop projects sponsored by the Compounds. Developers of the pigoon projectunder OrganInc Farms were able to customize and “grow an assortment offoolproof human-tissue organs in a transgenic knockout pig host – organs thatwould transplant smoothly and avoid rejection, but would also be able to fendoff attacks by opportunistic microbes and viruses” (Atwood 22). Thecustomization of organs benefitted those who could afford such advancements and,systematically speaking, allowed the prioritization of intelligence. The glorificationof the scientifically inclined was not only represented in those who accelerateprojects in the Compounds, but represent the power obtained through theexperiments themselves. The creation of the rakunks was based on a hobby wheregenographers played “create-an-animal” and continued fooling around because itmade them feel like God altering and splicing genes in order to create a newspecies (Atwood 51).
The frivolity presented in the creations of the rakunks alignsitself with the glorification of power in the scientific field and themodification of the “original.” For example, Pigoons in the NooSkins Compoundwere altered in order to replace aging skin and rejuvenate the body.Technology, despite its advancements, usurped the understanding of historicalevents and continues to impact modification.Angela Laflenexpresses the manipulation of vision as “media, government, and multinationalcorporations have become entirely integrated and work together to provideconstant entertainment to a public that is increasingly isolated with thecompany-run Compounds” (108).
Visual manipulation is not only presented in whatis already marketed in jimmy’s society, but is expressed through thelimitations of the internet. When Jimmy and Glenn become friends, they useUncle Pete’s private code to scour the internet. Their access to hidden partsof the web allows them indulge in cultural information of their time as well ashistoric information. The internet repurposing cultural and historical developmentsallow the boys to witness different representations of history through gruesomesites, renditions of texts, and virtual games. For example, Nitee-nite.com broadcasted live suicideswhich commend the act suicide and further expresses the fascination oflifespans, but in this instance, death: “The assisted suicide statistics shotway up after this show got going” (Atwood 83). The rising participation ofwitnessing suicides parallel with Glenn’s attraction to the site and his ownfascination with modifying human lifespans. Continualmodification not only reconfigures medical advancements, but alters thepresentation of cultural texts.
Some pornography presented in the novelmodifies the context of literature. Jimmy’s first depiction of Shakespeare’sMacbeth was through Anna K – a rendition of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina – who was a”self-styled installation artist with big boobs who’d wired up her apartment sothat every movement of her life was sent out live to millions of voyeurs”(Atwood 84). This portrayal of visual manipulation not only allowed others towitness alterations of history, but reconfigure the purposes of “historicaltexts” in a scientific world.
The pre-apocalypticworld allowed games like Blood and Roses which parodied past actions for theenjoyment of playing to erase history. The game allowed Glenn and Jimmy toreinterpret history in order to justify past atrocities. History had become acharacter presented through two elements: atrocity and achievement. Bloodrepresents large-scale human atrocities like genocides and the Roses illustratehuman achievements in form of artwork and scientific breakthroughs. The premiseof such a violent game is contrasted by the artificiality of enacting such brutality:”You roll thevirtual dice and either a Rose or a Blood item would pop up.
If it was a Blooditem, the Rose player had a chance to stop the atrocity from happening, but hehad to put up a Rose item in exchange. The atrocity would then vanish fromhistory, or at least the history recorded on the screen…. The player whomanaged to retain the most human achievements by Time’s Up was the winner”(Atwood 79).
Snowman recounts thereconfiguration of their history through TheDivine Comedy, The Crusades, ParadiseLost, the destruction of the Aztec, etc. Although the game reinterpretshistory through the hands of the players, it also commissions the deletion ofhistory in order to adapt to something better, or even worse. The manipulationof history through an engineered game is ironic in the context of an alreadymodified society repurposing the present in relation to the past. The blurringbetween reality and imagination are blurred not only within the game, butthrough Crake’s erasure of the “imperfect human” and Snowman’s unreliablenarration. Glenn’s scientificexcellence allowed him to develop his own experiment. His assistance in theRejoovenEsense Compound correlates with Blood and Roses and his need to rectifyeverything humans have gotten wrong in the past. Through his facilitation inthe compound, Glenn’s has scientific breakthroughs in developing the BlyssPlussPill and in creating the Children of Crake.
The achievements of the pill –protect humans from diseases, prolong youth –also enhance sexual stamina whilesterilizing the user in order to deplete the growing populace. Glenn’s idea ofthe “perfect human” is conceived through the formation of the Crakers. In thiscontext, Glenn had won a real version of Blood and Roses and rewrote historywhen the only person alive to verbalize it was Jimmy.
The transformationof Jimmy’s futuristic world caused Snowman’s post-apocalyptic world; throughthis, the revision of history becomes more prevalent because the novel “beginsafter the end of human history and stands as the beginning of new history”(Snyder 476). Snowman’s narration attests to the erasure of history due to the presenceof technological advances and his narrative journey between past and present reconstructsthe formation of events. Snowman’s modifications in narrations allows him toalter the people he once knew and birth them as characters in history. While Snyderbelieves that Snowman’s recounted events through Jimmy is due to his being”haunted by memories of the past, or, rather, he is himself a kind of ghost, aspectator of the past who haunts an unimaginable present yet is denied theconsolation of a future” (472), Laflen states that: “Jimmy’s isolation predatesthe catastrophe that leaves him the sole bearer of his culture’s language andknowledge because of the lowly status of literature in his culture” (112).
Asboth of these statements stress alterations of time, Snyder’s statementexpresses the reconstruction of narration from present to past while Laflen’shighlights Snowman’s inability to remember specific words and physicallypresent Snowman’s recreation of history through text. Snowman’s representationof history not only allows him to make sense of the past, but also help theChildren of Crake understand the world they now live in. By renaming himselfand Glenn, Snowman erases parts of Jimmy and gives himself the power to moldhistory for the Crakers. When the Children of Crake ask with fascination whattoast is, he responds with “it is something very, very bad.
It’s so bad Ican’t even describe it” (98). Snowman’s power over cultural interpretationisn’t just perceived through his experiences as Jimmy, but also through thehistorical knowledge he has. His control in narration allows him to revise thehistory he was a part of. For example, the oration of the Craker’s origin –Oryx and Crake as the sole creators of the world they live in – allows Snowman toerase the Glenn’s practices on the world.The frequentrevision of history is physically presented through language. Through the lossof human interaction, Snowman has hard time remembering and processing themeaning of words.
His loss of the word Mesozoic demonstrates the impact Glenn’serasure of humans has impacted Jimmy’s knowledge of words as Snowman. Thephysical revisions of the text – “recent extraordinary eventscatastrophe,” “splicers hand-selected by Crake and subsequently eliminated,”and “prior to his assisted suicide death” – reinforce the alterations ofhistory portrayed throughout the text (Atwood 346).