Latest Entries »

Not all apocalyptic novels are alike. Some are credible because already familiar. Some make it easier to let go, to yield to the forces from which we emerged, that we might assume new and more harmonious form.

Of course, Atwood could write a book about landfill maggots, and it would draw a few million readers. She’s so adept at what she does in Oryx and Crake, and so unintrusive in her narrative, that it’s easy to overlook the virtually invisible scaffolding of her craft.

The narrative has been excellent from page 1. It was just a bit slow to progress in quantifiable ways at first, that’s all. I got my copy of O&C from an Atwoodia connoisseur who, in this case, could not make it past page 30.

I’m now about 70 pages from the end of O&C, and I’m here to tell you that it does pick up after page 120 or so. Cruising speed around page 200.

Fact is, now when I’m not reading it, I’m downright intrigued over what plot turns might be brewing. I’ve earned that.

It’s clear that it made sense for Atwood to go light on the foreshadowing early in the book and to save the pithy, heavy doses for later. And that the story is no less than a brilliantly logical projection of forces and cross-currents that we’ve been swimming in, with, and against all our lives.

The outcomes of those vectors, had we stopped and looked, would have proved as predictable as the outcomes of a quadruple combo pool shot — if mainly to physicist and billiardist.

The ins and outs of the storyline are there for the discovering, by primed and unprimed alike. The question that presses for those with undefiled O&C Mind arises from that age-old, once-collectivist, now-hyperindividualist, quandary:

What then must we do?

Thanks to Atwood, the contours, prospects, and hidden thickets of the Way Ahead are now emerging from the mist (which turned out to be mostly on my glasses). To wit:

However fast the hyper-striving cultures unravel, it will take a decade or two longer for the dystopia to reach Bolivia.

We still have a little time.

The experience that crack platoons of civilian malcontents have gained from moving farther and farther out onto the periphery of madness has prepared them … OK, us … for this reckoning. To some extent. We’ll have a leg up on the others. In many ways the vanguard will have an easier time of it.

We can establish ourselves by teaching the natives how to make their homelands unappetizing to those who would follow us from the Homeland™. We all know by rote, after all, how to proceed with the inoculación:

First, caros amigos, do ye away with the clocks; those that remain must give conflicting times.

The practice of dropping in on friends and neighbors unannounced will need to be sustained. Make ready to shut down television broadcasts and Internet access daily for four random hours in the afternoon and evening; six hours on weekend days.

Any and all bills may be acquitted using barter.

No packaged or otherwise preserved food-like substances (gracias, Michael Pollan) may be transported across our borders in either direction; those caught doing so will be required to nourish themselves on those substances exclusively for a month.

Non-human animals will have the legal status of Persons; fictive entities that exist by elite consensus and only on paper will not.

The streets must be kept narrow.

And all filings of taxable income must be made public….

Let the Relocalizations begin. Thank you, Margaret Atwood.

Bust of Aristotle. Marble, Roman copy after a ...


Aristotle maintained that women have fewer

teeth than men; although he was twice married,

it never occurred to him to verify this statement

by examining his wives’ mouths.

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)
Impact of Science on Society (1952)


Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal

to the sacred principles of liberty, which are

embodied in one maxim: The fortunate must not

be restrained in the exercise of tyranny

over the unfortunate.


Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), “Freedom in Society”


All the elements for your happiness are already here.

There’s no need to run, strive, search or struggle.

Just be, eh?*

Thich Nhat Hanh

* Some authorities consider the “eh?” apocryphal.

There is a wisdom in this beyond the rules of physic:

a man’s own observation what he finds good of

and what he finds hurt of

is the best physic to preserve health.


Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626)