4/30: “The Passage” by Justin Cronin (Part VI)

Compared to Cronin’s work, the movie, “Daybreakers” (2009), offers an interesting insight into a world populated by vampiric beings. The vampires in the movie are very different to the ones seen in Cronin’s work, as they are very self aware begins that have a society that almost mirrors that of humanity. However the key difference in the world of “Daybreakers” is the concept that these beings must have a sufficient enough amount of blood in their diet, or they descend into a much feral form consciousness and turn into creatures that are very near to being completely primitive. While understanding that the number of humans is slowly decreasing and blood is a diminishing resources, (an almost satirical look at the depletion of various resources on earth), it is revealed that there is a flourishing economy on the sale of a blood substitute, which while claiming to be looking for a way to make a blood substitute which will help with the depletion of the natural resource, there are large companies who actually do not want a perfect substitute found, but rather a lucrative business idea of the sale of pure blood as an economic tool. The two works can be compared with the idea that while Cronin’s work focuses more on the understanding about ones true nature and what it means to be human, “Daybreakers” chooses to accept the idea that while humanity can possibly grow into a more advanced race, it will never let go of it frivolous philosophy of economic superiority.

4/27: “The Passage” by Justin Cronin (Part V)

The significant of the title, “The Passage” is very important and describes story of the novel. The title describes and portrays the characters’ journeys and their journey to escape from death from a world that is overtaken by the virals. The “passage” is a place where the characters believe is the place of survival and security which they deeply yearn to go to. Another way I interpret the title is the transitioning from one state to another which according to the novel, from being a human being to becoming a viral.

Looking at different perspectives of each characters, it seems like the “the passage” did change throughout the text when really, they all want the same thing. The human beings want the things to go back to normal where the human race isn’t diminishing. Their journey started out from being safe from the virals at the Colony to then wishing the human race won’t end due to the virals’ animalistic behavior. Same goes for the virals. They felt trapped and also yearned to go “home” which is going back to living like a normal human being and not trapped in a body forever.

The image below is an image I believe would make a good cover art for the film. When a person turns into a viral, they lose their memory and identity. They feel trapped and cannot reach the ultimate satisfaction of living when the constant thought of who they are is all they wonder.

4/23: “The Passage” by Justin Cronin (Part IV)

Beloved Reader,

It seems that every day grows bleaker and hope shrinks from a low murmur to a hollow whisper. A party was sent to retrieve water three days ago, and no sign of them returning has been received. Everyone wakes up with a distant look in their eyes. The children, once so full of life and optimism now spend most of their days cowering in the shadows and scavenging for rotten apple cores and stray rats. How cruel is our God, to forsake us like this. Are we being punished for falling victim to pride, and thinking we could create paradise on Earth, we cried to the heavens in praise and now cry to a barren sky in anguish. It is difficult to sleep; every moment is spent listening to the ragged breathing of the elderly and those who have given up hope. Most days the strongest of the colony do rounds of the sleeping lodges and pick up those who don’t wake up, and take them outside the walls. Those days aren’t so bad, that night at the least there are little bits of meat floating in the stale soup bowls.

I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to go on. There is more blood coming out with every trail of urine and my teeth are beginning to move loose in the gums. The only dreams I see now are of waking to greet a grey sky, and even that dream leads to the nightmare, which is reality. Maybe you will find this letter with me still taking breath, or maybe you will pry this from cold, mortified fingers, but death does not scare me. All hope is gone, and now we wait patiently for the final visitor as the lullaby of groans and cries puts us into an uneasy slumber. Forgive me, God, I was not worth saving.

To now and forever,

A Memory

4/20: “The Passage” by Justin Cronin (Part III)

After reading half of the “The Passage” today, we learn various things about Amy, the inmates, what they are faced with, and how the experiment affected them. Cronin takes readers inside the minds of the virals because it shows us their true nature and how they were once humans and not only monsters. The memories they have are what bring the virals back to their human form and it gives them a connection and a sense of community. Throughout reading this, we learn that the virals are connected to the original viral that infected them which is one of the Twelve. They have the ability to connect psychologically and feel deeper within their community. They may have human  like forms deep down but they will always be seen as monsters to others.

Virals are similar to vampires in many ways. They are monsters that are immortal and that have a very strong with a powerful immune system. They are not a fan of seeing themselves in mirrors too. They have sword-like teeth and claw-like hands which are very much similar to a vampire’s appearances. They also cannot be exposed to light and need human blood to keep them going.

The virals remind me of the vampires from the show “The Originals”, which is the spin off “The Vampire Diaries.” In this show is a family of powerful vampires that are known as “the originals”. They all contain the typical qualities of a vampire. They are the first vampires to be created. They can shut their humanity off which means shutting their feelings off. Even with their humanity off, deep down, they still have feelings and once those feelings are reached into them, they will feel it and all the feelings come back rushing. I believe this trait is very similar to the virals. It is like having a soul trapped in a body deeply that cannot be reached at all.

4/16: “The Passage” by Justin Cronin (Part II)

We have now reached a stage where almost nothing seems impossible. We are able to do things that would have seemed outrageous a century ago such as flying through the air on a regular basis, transplanting hands and faces, and curing cancer, to name a few. A lot of scientific breakthroughs are made when people push the ethical boundaries of their time, but we wonder at what point is it enough and have this gone too far? As each scientific taboo is broke and assimilated into modern day research, we cannot help but wonder, will there ever be a time where we push too far? A problem that is faced when deciding whether or not a technique is morally acceptable is the notion that moral and ethical values vary significantly from person to person. For example, in October 2012, scientists were able to create healthy baby mice from stem cells.  This led to speculation that in the future, infertile women may be able to give birth to healthy babies made from their own stem cells. Some believed it was a great breakthrough which should be applauded for the sophistication of the science alone. Some were excited about the prospect of ending the misery of infertility. Some people were iffy about it. They became more cautious which caused arguments of should we really be celebrating something that could make that problem worse or the fear of “playing God.” Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this question. It would be nice to say that science can keep behind the moral horizon and still move forwards, but that’s not the way the world works. What is controversial at first may become normal several years later. I don’t think there should be any limit; therefore science can go as far as it wants as long as its moral and with good intentions. The world is full of questions and the best way to go at it is to experiment it and doing trial-and-error. Putting a limit to it will stop the society from growing and moving forward which is why I believe we should never say no to a human seeking greater knowledge. There is so much left in the life and world to be answered.

An example for “The Passage” that displays this view is when Amy is kidnapped and is used as a test subject for the serum that is used on the inmates that “cures” death and turns them into monsters. This is the act in which science should not further pursue in because it is immoral to use a child as a test subject in any harmful experiment.

There is a horror / scientific fiction movie called “Splice” (2009) that similarly relates to the idea of science altering biology. The story concerns experiments in genetic engineering being done by a young scientific couple, who attempt to introduce human DNA into their work of splicing animal genes for medical use but the new species end up becoming self-aware and decided to destroy humanity.

4/13: “The Passage” by Justin Cronin

After reading the beginning of the “The Passage” by Justin Cronin and learning about Project Noah, it was hard to decide whether it was the right choice to pursue Project Noah or not. In the story, Professor Jonas Lear of Harvard University thinks that he has found the cure for dying which is immortality. Deep in the jungles of Bolivia, Lear and his U.S. army-funded research group set out to find a cure, but instead all but a few die from a mysterious virus. However, the military is able to retrieve a sample of the virus. The experiments were named “Project Noah”. Project Noah has both its pros and cons. Although it may seem like it would be beneficial and help save several lives, it also poses many risks and dangers to the community. The test subjects are the inmates who have nothing to live for and are sentenced to death as long as they give their consents. It seems that no one really care for the inmates since they committed such horrendous crimes that have put them in death row. These inmates are still humans and it seems inhumane to make them as test subjects in my opinion. It is not known that if Project Noah is effective or not. It may give them another chance in life or the inmates may just die from it, which was the original plan for the inmates. The outcomes is also unknown, who knows what kind of havoc it may create; it may be worse than it was originally assumed or it could do quite a good for the community. Therefore it is really hard to determine whether Project Noah is the right choice to pursue or not.

The significance of the name, “Project Noah”, is that it is from the biblical character Noah, who lived for nine hundred and fifty years. With this reference, the goal of this project is for scientists to find a way for people to live a longer life to immortality. Another reason why it holds such significance is because it gives people a second chance at life. Noah was chosen by God to build an ark and rescue both genders of every animal to repopulate and save them from an upcoming dangerous flood. This reflects to the project because Noah started a whole new world and a beginning for the animals just as Project Noah starts a new world and a beginning for the humans.

What Cronin creates in “The Passage” is a world relying heavily on science and medical research which is reflected on today’s society where scientists and doctors are trying to discover cures for all sorts of diseases. But it can also be reflected in today’s society in another way. Nowadays, the government has become more strict and controlling on the people and their surroundings and actions. People need consents for everything and need to be aware with everything they do. They are constantly being watched for their actions. They are living in constant fear that if they do one mistake, they will be punished for it and quite harshly too such as the driving laws that are regulated on the streets. The consequences for that have become so extreme that even one little mistake can mess it all up for a person. This reminds me of the novel, “The Hunger Games”, because the characters are always in constant fear and are very careful with what they do because the consequences will end badly if they break a law.

4/9: “The Call of Cthulhu” by H.P. Lovecraft (Part III)

This image below is a great capture of the greatness that Cthulhu possesses. Notice the darkness of the ocean and the size of Cthulhu in this photo. He is not just large but takes up a significant portion of the ocean. If we think of how large a ship must look within close perimeters then take a look at Cthulhu, we see the enormous advantage that he has over the world and has such a strong following. According to Wilcox’s dreams, he discusses the size of how large he interpreted Cthulhu. He stated described it as “A mountain walked or stumbled.” and “… a gigantic thing ‘miles high’ which walked or lumbered about.” To get a deeper understanding of the image, it represents an ongoing theme found in Lovecraft’s work, the ideas that behind the mirage of human ignorance, lies a doormat and ever creeping chaos and horror that, at any moment can rip us from our reality and plunge us into the tides of maddening destruction and carnage.

Illustration from the "The H.P. Lovecraft Wiki" http://lovecraft.wikia.com/

Illustration from the “The H.P. Lovecraft Wiki”
http://lovecraft.wikia.com

Another thing that visually captures Lovecraft’s work is the song called “The Call of Ktulu” by Metallica. It is an instrumental that was written by James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Cliff Burton and original Metallica guitarist Dave Mustaine.This instrumental was inspired by Lovecraft’s “The Call of Cthulu”. In the story, it is mentioned that the name Cthulhu will bring him closer. That is why Metallica used the name “Ktulu” and not “Cthulhu”, for fear of the beast. It best captures the atmosphere of Lovecraftian horror perfectly. Check out the music below!