Baker's Miscellaney

Record our reading attempts, successes, and failures for 2014.

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Baker's Miscellaney

Postby Baker » 18 Jan 2014, 07:42

Okay, as discussed, I'm going to list all the books I start this year, and I'll make notes accordingly if I finish them.


Currently reading:

Fall of the Roman Republic, Plutarch.

Agnotology, the Making and Unmaking of Ignorance, Ed Robert Proctor and Londa Shiebinger

Austerity, the History of a Dangerous Idea, Mark Blythe
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Re: Baker's Miscellaney

Postby Baker » 07 Feb 2014, 06:46

Weight by Jeanette Winterson

What a gem. Short is not my favourite reading length, but I do believe I prefer Ms Winterson at this modest length. She can make so few words carry a tremendously heavy burden. I really did feel like most of the story was unwritten dark matter. Virtuoso stuff.

Many thanks, Wild!
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Re: Baker's Miscellaney

Postby wildlx » 07 Feb 2014, 12:12

I'm glad you liked it, Baker!
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Re: Baker's Miscellaney

Postby Baker » 04 Apr 2014, 07:09

Never let me go by Kazuo Ishiguro

I don't think I had quite the strength of reaction you did, Wild, but I did find it a very good book. It has the style of storytelling I like best. The author has a cool idea, but the story is told through the characters rather than putting the cool idea front and centre. In fact, discoering exactly what the cool idea is, formed the spine of the reading experience for me. Very dystopian alternate history: well, for some. It's set in an England that would be horrifying if it had happened/was happening around us. The characters were complex, and although a lot of the story is told through a child's POV, that didn't bother me as the style is great and eminently readable. I suppose, too, the fact that what was really happening was not at all childish, so the book didn't have a typical YA feel to it.

Thanks for the chance to read this, Wild. :-)


Spoilers

Wild, did you figure out why they were sterile?

I found the "art to discover if they had a soul idea" to be problematic. A soul is a religious construct, yet there was no indication that the characters received any religious element in their upbringing. Although, the whole way they were totally indoctrinated--to the point where they didn't really interact with "normals" when they left Hailsham--definitely had cult written all over it.

I confess that I thought the idea of the Gallery had something to do with who their progenitors were, rather than the whole "see if they have a soul" thing. That is, the guardians were looking for an expression of the talent in the children that was present in their progenitors. I over-thought that one.
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Re: Baker's Miscellaney

Postby wildlx » 04 Apr 2014, 09:33

Baker wrote:Thanks for the chance to read this, Wild. :-)

I am so glad you like it! Even if not as much as I did ;-).


Spoilers
Baker wrote:Wild, did you figure out why they were sterile?

I found the "art to discover if they had a soul idea" to be problematic. A soul is a religious construct, yet there was no indication that the characters received any religious element in their upbringing. Although, the whole way they were totally indoctrinated--to the point where they didn't really interact with "normals" when they left Hailsham--definitely had cult written all over it.

I confess that I thought the idea of the Gallery had something to do with who their progenitors were, rather than the whole "see if they have a soul" thing. That is, the guardians were looking for an expression of the talent in the children that was present in their progenitors. I over-thought that one.

I find it interesting that you comment both the sterility and soul idea together. This because maybe the real question is why were they not considered as human as the non-clones.
In my opinion they are sterile because it was used as a plot device in the novel to give the clones another "defect" that would help explain why they are not considered human. And this defect is summed to two others which we've been always told are also important: having parents and being born. Also, I interpreted the "soul idea" as not really a religious construct, which I agree it is, but as a way to discuss what makes people human. In a way what Ishiguro is saying is that art makes us human because it allows a testimony of our lives. That is more important in the case of the clones since they are not allowed a genetic testimony through reproduction since they are sterile.
Since we are on spoilers land. The greatest impact of the book for me was how through small day to day details we can take a look at the absurdity of human life. How clones know of the short time they have before completion and yet they always have the hope of at least postponing their end and they don't rebel against it. More, their denial is reflected in the way the fill their short lives.
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Re: Baker's Miscellaney

Postby Baker » 04 Apr 2014, 13:21

wildlx wrote:I find it interesting that you comment both the sterility and soul idea together. This because maybe the real question is why were they not considered as human as the non-clones.
In my opinion they are sterile because it was used as a plot device in the novel to give the clones another "defect" that would help explain why they are not considered human. And this defect is summed to two others which we've been always told are also important: having parents and being born.

Okay, so I wasn't alone in seeing no obvious and logical reason why the clones were sterile?

Did you notice that only people who knew they were clones regarded them with pity/horror/revulsion or as in any way other than normal human beings? Indeed, when Kathy and Tommy go to find Madame, she evinces no reaction to them until they reveal their identities. So, there is no visual difference to mark them as clones. Nor, indeed, if they are cloned human beings would there be anything. I didn't find anything in the book to make me think of them as other than human beings. It was the way some people treated them, and how they regarded themselves (after their short lifetimes of indoctrination) that differentiated them. To me, the horror was the part we weren't really shown: the wider community. When they were talking with the woman in the art gallery in Norfolk, there was nothing there that was in any way other than human, except for the way the clones thought of themselves and framed their interactions with 'normal' people. Apart from the guardians at Hailsham, and Marie-Claude/Madame, I can't remember being shown any interactions between the clones and 'normals' who knew the clones were clones. Every mention of the donations made me wonder about the doctors, nurses, surgeons, and lab technicians. What did those people think about using human beings as breeding stock for organs? There wasn't much I picked up on the scale of things. When Miss Emily talks to them at the end, she mentions some other trusts who were raising clones, but surely we'd have to be talking huge programs to make this a viable approach to treating cancer? I also found the question of the 'possibles' intriguing but, ultimately, a dead-end tease. If you're selecting people to clone for organ donations, surely there would be some logic to the choices?
And, yet, the fact that we had the story from the POV of one of the clones makes it reasonable that we didn't learn much. EXCEPT Kathy spend several years as a carer going all over Britain. How could she not have picked up plenty of information about her origins etc?

I have no idea how the clones were produced. I must've missed that. What I'm getting at is your comment about being born. Were they not born? To surrogate mothers? But, seriously, why bother cloning? Why not just rear some random orphans? Sure, you'll get a few unhealthy ones, but it seems a lot more streamlined than cloning--especially in the absence of any rationale was to who and why people were selected as "possibles" for cloning. As for no parents, the way the story was presented, I took a while to realise that Hailsham was not just some special boarding school. The guardians must've known their stuff to rear such incredibly passive, accepting, and incurious teenagers. But, then, children are successfully indoctrinated in droves all over the world.

How did you find their behaviour when they reached the Cottages? They were free except for the contraints they placed on themselves, They were shown as somewhat fearful of the wider world, and yet incurious. Do you think the latter might be a consequence of knowing their time was short until they started caring then donating? And yet, as with Chrissy and Rodney, and then Kathy and Tommy, they wanted more time. I found it hard to reconcile the docile acceptance of their fates on the operating tables with the desire to delay it. What did you make of that?


Wild wrote:Also, I interpreted the "soul idea" as not really a religious construct, which I agree it is, but as a way to discuss what makes people human. In a way what Ishiguro is saying is that art makes us human because it allows a testimony of our lives. That is more important in the case of the clones since they are not allowed a genetic testimony through reproduction since they are sterile.

Not sure I agree with your interpretation of art bearing testimony, since the Gallery was pretty much a sham, and few were shown in artistic pursuits after they left Hailsham. Tommy only started working on his animals because he thought it was a means to a deferral, not as an enduring marker of his life once it was gone. Ruth got rid of her collection in her own attempt at a rite of passage for the benefit of being seen in a positive light by the veterans. Sure, there was the subplot with Miss Lucy and Tommy, where she recanted on telling him being rubbish at art didn't matter, but ultimately she was proven correct.

Wild wrote:Since we are on spoilers land. The greatest impact of the book for me was how through small day to day details we can take a look at the absurdity of human life. How clones know of the short time they have before completion and yet they always have the hope of at least postponing their end and they don't rebel against it. More, their denial is reflected in the way the fill their short lives.

Yes, wasn't it amazing at how tranquilised they seemed to be against reality? The greatest impact for me was on the horror that surrounded them and which made their existences what they were, and yet was never really addressed: the 'normal' world. People knew about the clones existence. The donation programme was carried on throughout Britain. Through Kathy's caring, we learn about recovery centres and hospitals where the donations occurred all over the place. And yet that world was faceless and nameless in the context of the book, except for the guardians and odd people employed by the trusts like Madame and Keggers. Whenever a nameless person gets mentioned, in context of, say, a medical professional, I wanted to scream at them and ask what the fuck they were thinking. Miss Emily was a study in the banality of evil, since she clearly believed she was doing well by the clones she helped raise. And yet, the difference between her and a concentration camp guard was that she had convinced herself she was doing good. That level of self-righteous delusion is horrifying. And yet credible in the world of the story. The inhumanity that struck me was not in the clones, but everyone else. How the fuck could they? Sure, we're talking about a society that by and large thinks nothing of the lives and suffering of the organisms it consumes, so for me Ishiguro was presenting the problem of how can we, as a society, be so inhuman to those amongst us?

I'll stop now. I'm rambling. It was a good, thought-provoking read. Happy to keep discussing if you like.
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Re: Baker's Miscellaney

Postby wildlx » 05 Apr 2014, 04:44

Baker wrote:Okay, so I wasn't alone in seeing no obvious and logical reason why the clones were sterile?

No, I don't think so. And I was just talking with a colleague (a molecular biologist) who has read the book after I did and she also didn't see that it had to be like that.

Baker wrote:Did you notice that only people who knew they were clones regarded them with pity/horror/revulsion or as in any way other than normal human beings? Indeed, when Kathy and Tommy go to find Madame, she evinces no reaction to them until they reveal their identities. So, there is no visual difference to mark them as clones. Nor, indeed, if they are cloned human beings would there be anything. I didn't find anything in the book to make me think of them as other than human beings. It was the way some people treated them, and how they regarded themselves (after their short lifetimes of indoctrination) that differentiated them. To me, the horror was the part we weren't really shown: the wider community. When they were talking with the woman in the art gallery in Norfolk, there was nothing there that was in any way other than human, except for the way the clones thought of themselves and framed their interactions with 'normal' people. Apart from the guardians at Hailsham, and Marie-Claude/Madame, I can't remember being shown any interactions between the clones and 'normals' who knew the clones were clones. Every mention of the donations made me wonder about the doctors, nurses, surgeons, and lab technicians. What did those people think about using human beings as breeding stock for organs?

Right! Yes, they are so well indoctrinated that they are "others", aren't they? It made me transpose their situation to what happens to us as lesbians. We can pass as "normal people" but then we can get the horror reactions when homophobic people find out we are lesbians, or also we can internalize that we are not normal. Re the medical people that is also something that it is possible in our society and questions once again in the book the humanity of some humans.

Baker wrote:There wasn't much I picked up on the scale of things. When Miss Emily talks to them at the end, she mentions some other trusts who were raising clones, but surely we'd have to be talking huge programs to make this a viable approach to treating cancer? I also found the question of the 'possibles' intriguing but, ultimately, a dead-end tease. If you're selecting people to clone for organ donations, surely there would be some logic to the choices?
And, yet, the fact that we had the story from the POV of one of the clones makes it reasonable that we didn't learn much. EXCEPT Kathy spend several years as a carer going all over Britain. How could she not have picked up plenty of information about her origins etc?

Didn't you get the sense that Kathy is a loner and doesn't interact much with others, even clones? The possibles made me think, because to me this kind of program would demand that everyone would have a clone, unless there would be some money restrictions involved (money is another thing that gets bypassed in the story).

Baker wrote:I have no idea how the clones were produced. I must've missed that. What I'm getting at is your comment about being born. Were they not born? To surrogate mothers? But, seriously, why bother cloning? Why not just rear some random orphans? Sure, you'll get a few unhealthy ones, but it seems a lot more streamlined than cloning--especially in the absence of any rationale was to who and why people were selected as "possibles" for cloning.

Nothing was said in the book about the way they were produced. You just get the idea that there were no surrogate mothers involved. At least I did. Well, cloning in this way fits a purpose in the book. You could get organ cloning and not whole individuals, which would also fit the purpose of organ donation but not allow Ishiguro to question anything regarding human nature and whether our lives make sense.

Baker wrote:As for no parents, the way the story was presented, I took a while to realise that Hailsham was not just some special boarding school. The guardians must've known their stuff to rear such incredibly passive, accepting, and incurious teenagers. But, then, children are successfully indoctrinated in droves all over the world.

Yes, the conformity and also willful ignorance of the clones are two of the things that bothered me in the book. But then I look at most adolescents and they don't rebel, they just fit the trend.

Baker wrote:How did you find their behaviour when they reached the Cottages? They were free except for the contraints they placed on themselves, They were shown as somewhat fearful of the wider world, and yet incurious. Do you think the latter might be a consequence of knowing their time was short until they started caring then donating? And yet, as with Chrissy and Rodney, and then Kathy and Tommy, they wanted more time. I found it hard to reconcile the docile acceptance of their fates on the operating tables with the desire to delay it. What did you make of that?

As you say "they were free except for the contraints they placed on themselves". I took it to mean that they didn't know how to use their freedom. They get caught in personal relations, and sex and are not able to see and act beyond that. For them there is not a wider world to explore. They lack the will to do it.
Re: The desire to the delay vs docile acceptance, does that not reflect our own attitude versus death?

Wild wrote:Not sure I agree with your interpretation of art bearing testimony, since the Gallery was pretty much a sham, and few were shown in artistic pursuits after they left Hailsham. Tommy only started working on his animals because he thought it was a means to a deferral, not as an enduring marker of his life once it was gone. Ruth got rid of her collection in her own attempt at a rite of passage for the benefit of being seen in a positive light by the veterans. Sure, there was the subplot with Miss Lucy and Tommy, where she recanted on telling him being rubbish at art didn't matter, but ultimately she was proven correct.

OK, maybe not just testimony. But the ability to do art does distinguish humans from other animals even if it is not good art. Ah, Tommy and Miss Lucy. Two things about them. I took Tommy's art not just as a symbol of imagination but also as a symbol of how we get lost in small details and are unable to see the big picture. Tommy and Miss Lucy are also the only two characters that show signs of rebellion against the system. Miss Lucy, in particular, tries to shake the system but the students just ignore her. By saying that art didn't matter she shows that she is aware that what she and their students are doing at Hailsham ultimately has no consequences and will not change a thing. Both the clones and the "humans" are too conformist for anything to change.

Wild wrote:Yes, wasn't it amazing at how tranquilised they seemed to be against reality? The greatest impact for me was on the horror that surrounded them and which made their existences what they were, and yet was never really addressed: the 'normal' world. People knew about the clones existence. The donation programme was carried on throughout Britain. Through Kathy's caring, we learn about recovery centres and hospitals where the donations occurred all over the place. And yet that world was faceless and nameless in the context of the book, except for the guardians and odd people employed by the trusts like Madame and Keggers. Whenever a nameless person gets mentioned, in context of, say, a medical professional, I wanted to scream at them and ask what the fuck they were thinking. Miss Emily was a study in the banality of evil, since she clearly believed she was doing well by the clones she helped raise. And yet, the difference between her and a concentration camp guard was that she had convinced herself she was doing good. That level of self-righteous delusion is horrifying. And yet credible in the world of the story. The inhumanity that struck me was not in the clones, but everyone else. How the fuck could they? Sure, we're talking about a society that by and large thinks nothing of the lives and suffering of the organisms it consumes, so for me Ishiguro was presenting the problem of how can we, as a society, be so inhuman to those amongst us?

Oh, yes, all that inhumanity you mention also is also very much present. And I agree that Ishiguro is also questioning our inhumanity. On top of what it means to be human and why humans don't question the absurdity of their existence.

Wild wrote:I'll stop now. I'm rambling. It was a good, thought-provoking read. Happy to keep discussing if you like.

Oh I love to bounce ideas regarding multilayered books like this one :).
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Re: Baker's Miscellaney

Postby Baker » 05 Apr 2014, 12:22

wildlx wrote:No, I don't think so. And I was just talking with a colleague (a molecular biologist) who has read the book after I did and she also didn't see that it had to be like that.

Okay, so an unexplained plot device that just is.

Wild wrote:Right! Yes, they are so well indoctrinated that they are "others", aren't they? It made me transpose their situation to what happens to us as lesbians. We can pass as "normal people" but then we can get the horror reactions when homophobic people find out we are lesbians, or also we can internalize that we are not normal. Re the medical people that is also something that it is possible in our society and questions once again in the book the humanity of some humans.

Exactly. The others, the minority, who aren't accepted as fully human.

Wild wrote:Didn't you get the sense that Kathy is a loner and doesn't interact much with others, even clones?

Hard to say. She does admit to long, solitary walks when she's in the Cottages, but then again she doesn't seem to have a particularly stand-offish nature with anyone else. The focus of the book being so much on her relationships with Ruth and Tommy did give a very channelled feeling to her relationships--where the minutiae of their interactions assumed such importance to her--and yet I didn't get the feeling that she was particularly a lone wolf. She clearly did interact wtih other clones to the extent of having sexual relations with some of the males, albeit for physical reasons rather than emotional ones. Which brings me to another point. Did it strike you as odd how emotionally limited the clones were? For all the details and importance of small interactions with others that Kathy remembered, none of them--apart from with Ruth--seemed to hold much in the way of affection, or much of any emotions, really. No violent dislikes, no loves. She doesn't report much in the way of the bitchiness of teenaged girls, either. Sure, there was a concerted campaign of bullying and harrassment directed at Tommy, but I had the feeling that was abnormal rather than common. In fact, Tommy's tantrums were the only displays of strong emotions I can remember any of the clones showing, and they were regarded with horror and discomfort by the other clones.


wild wrote:The possibles made me think, because to me this kind of program would demand that everyone would have a clone, unless there would be some money restrictions involved (money is another thing that gets bypassed in the story).

Oh, definitely, the money thing. When they go to Norfolk, Kathy says she's in charge of the spending money, but Tommy buys her the cassette without asking her for any money. When they need money to buy ignition fuel, Keggers gives them some. But there's no mention of where the money comes from. There's nothing about how Kathy affords petrol, her bedsit rent, or her car.
As for the possibles, I can't see how everyone gets a clone. That would be logistically impossible. Also, you wouldn't want to clone people with genetic diseases or pre-dispositions, or else you're wasting the resources to breed and rear a clone for the 18 or so years until s/he is physically mature enough to start donating organs. Nor would it be practical to clone people who are diagnosed with cancer, because they won't be able to wait that long for transplants. Plus, transplants don't have to be from clones to be viable matches. So, I'm not sure how you'd choose who to clone, and Ishiguro makes no mention of it.

Did you wonder if any of the clones thought about the people they had donated organs to? Or if Kathy ever wondered about the people for whom, say, Ruth died and within whom Ruth's kidney or pancreas still functioned?

Wild wrote:Nothing was said in the book about the way they were produced. You just get the idea that there were no surrogate mothers involved. At least I did. Well, cloning in this way fits a purpose in the book. You could get organ cloning and not whole individuals, which would also fit the purpose of organ donation but not allow Ishiguro to question anything regarding human nature and whether our lives make sense.

I suspect this ranks alongside sterility as an Unexplained Plot Device. Certainly, organ cloning would make much more economic and moral sense, but it wouldn't have made for nearly as thought-provoking a book.


Wild wrote:Yes, the conformity and also willful ignorance of the clones are two of the things that bothered me in the book. But then I look at most adolescents and they don't rebel, they just fit the trend.

Yes and no. Teenagers do want to conform, but isn't that largely with each other? And rebel against authority? The clones certainly didn't to that.


Wild wrote:As you say "they were free except for the contraints they placed on themselves". I took it to mean that they didn't know how to use their freedom. They get caught in personal relations, and sex and are not able to see and act beyond that. For them there is not a wider world to explore. They lack the will to do it.

Certainly Kathy's story is almost completely about personal relations with other clones and the minutiae of that, and very little about the wider world.


wild wrote:Re: The desire to the delay vs docile acceptance, does that not reflect our own attitude versus death?

Oh, yes. But the clones don't display our attitude to life. By which I mean that I found it odd that they lived their short lives knowing their fates, but only as it was nearing did it suddenly become important to try to delay it. Few of us know with much advance warning when we're going to "complete", so we don't really think about death much. They knew when they were going to start donating and the reality of not living past the fourth--if they made it that far. I had trouble reconciling their docility up to that point with the sudden urgency of trying to defer. What stopped them trying to avert their fates earlier?


Wild wrote:OK, maybe not just testimony. But the ability to do art does distinguish humans from other animals even if it is not good art.

Ah, right, that makes more sense. I agree.


Wild wrote:Ah, Tommy and Miss Lucy. Two things about them. I took Tommy's art not just as a symbol of imagination but also as a symbol of how we get lost in small details and are unable to see the big picture. Tommy and Miss Lucy are also the only two characters that show signs of rebellion against the system. Miss Lucy, in particular, tries to shake the system but the students just ignore her. By saying that art didn't matter she shows that she is aware that what she and their students are doing at Hailsham ultimately has no consequences and will not change a thing. Both the clones and the "humans" are too conformist for anything to change.

Yes. Get rid of, or squelch, and non-conformity. But also, the fact that Miss Lucy had so little impact was a bit depressing. Those clones must've been reared wtih a profound lack of self-worth, along with the lack of curiosity and spirit.


Wild wrote:Oh, yes, all that inhumanity you mention also is also very much present. And I agree that Ishiguro is also questioning our inhumanity. On top of what it means to be human and why humans don't question the absurdity of their existence. [/quote[
Yes. Also, how we treat others, and how much we are prepared to turn a blind eye to if a morally repugnant practice benefits ourselves. We are a pretty shitty species.


Wild wrote:Oh I love to bounce ideas regarding multilayered books like this one :).

Me, too. :-)
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Re: Baker's Miscellaney

Postby wildlx » 08 Apr 2014, 03:10

Baker wrote:Hard to say. She does admit to long, solitary walks when she's in the Cottages, but then again she doesn't seem to have a particularly stand-offish nature with anyone else. The focus of the book being so much on her relationships with Ruth and Tommy did give a very channelled feeling to her relationships--where the minutiae of their interactions assumed such importance to her--and yet I didn't get the feeling that she was particularly a lone wolf. She clearly did interact wtih other clones to the extent of having sexual relations with some of the males, albeit for physical reasons rather than emotional ones.

It may be a false impression. Since, as you say, the book is so centered on her relationships with Ruth and Tommy, we are given the impression that when not interacting with both of them it is as if she is only working and living alone.

Baker wrote:Which brings me to another point. Did it strike you as odd how emotionally limited the clones were? For all the details and importance of small interactions with others that Kathy remembered, none of them--apart from with Ruth--seemed to hold much in the way of affection, or much of any emotions, really. No violent dislikes, no loves. She doesn't report much in the way of the bitchiness of teenaged girls, either. Sure, there was a concerted campaign of bullying and harrassment directed at Tommy, but I had the feeling that was abnormal rather than common. In fact, Tommy's tantrums were the only displays of strong emotions I can remember any of the clones showing, and they were regarded with horror and discomfort by the other clones.

I think we get a distorted view, since we are getting Kathy's POV and I think Kathy is telling us the story dispassionately. Do you think that bitchiness between teenage girls is inevitable? I don't have that personal experience while at school.

Baker wrote:As for the possibles, I can't see how everyone gets a clone. That would be logistically impossible. Also, you wouldn't want to clone people with genetic diseases or pre-dispositions, or else you're wasting the resources to breed and rear a clone for the 18 or so years until s/he is physically mature enough to start donating organs. Nor would it be practical to clone people who are diagnosed with cancer, because they won't be able to wait that long for transplants. Plus, transplants don't have to be from clones to be viable matches. So, I'm not sure how you'd choose who to clone, and Ishiguro makes no mention of it.

Right. I agree that for people with genetic diseases or with short term outcome diseases cloning this way makes no sense.

Baker wrote:Did you wonder if any of the clones thought about the people they had donated organs to? Or if Kathy ever wondered about the people for whom, say, Ruth died and within whom Ruth's kidney or pancreas still functioned?

That is another open question in the book isn't it? Because we would think that they would give the organs to the possibles. However, the possibles are only brought up in the context of the people the clones originated from and not as the ones that were the recipients of transplants. Also, why would their possibles need 4 transplants in such a short period? So these four transplants seem to imply that the donation was also to other people. I also wondered what were the 4 organs, because after 3 transplants Tommy still seemed to be "OK".

Baker wrote:Yes and no. Teenagers do want to conform, but isn't that largely with each other? And rebel against authority? The clones certainly didn't to that.

:hmm: I would say that not only with each other. And rebellion, when it exists, seems to be within a short period of people's lives.

Baker wrote:Oh, yes. But the clones don't display our attitude to life. By which I mean that I found it odd that they lived their short lives knowing their fates, but only as it was nearing did it suddenly become important to try to delay it. Few of us know with much advance warning when we're going to "complete", so we don't really think about death much. They knew when they were going to start donating and the reality of not living past the fourth--if they made it that far. I had trouble reconciling their docility up to that point with the sudden urgency of trying to defer. What stopped them trying to avert their fates earlier?

I do agree that people try to forget that death exists, since we are always thinking of it as of something that will take many years to occur. It is as if the when we are young time passes slower. However, we act like the clones trying to delay it when we do have a nearing time of death, such as when we have been diagnosed with a fatal disease e.g.cancer. So the behaviour of the clones is similar to us except that the time span before death is shorter..

Baker wrote:But also, the fact that Miss Lucy had so little impact was a bit depressing. Those clones must've been reared wtih a profound lack of self-worth, along with the lack of curiosity and spirit.

I am not sure that is a problem of self-worth. For me Miss Lucy symbolizes the knowledge that we have available, such as the fact that we die, but that we choose to ignore, especially when we are adolescents.

Baker wrote:Yes. Also, how we treat others, and how much we are prepared to turn a blind eye to if a morally repugnant practice benefits ourselves. We are a pretty shitty species.

Indeed. Ishiguro makes that very obvious.
A lesbian is the rage of all women condensed to the point of explosion. “The Woman-Identified Woman” Radicalesbians (1970)
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Re: Baker's Miscellaney

Postby Baker » 10 Apr 2014, 07:37

#11.Austerity: The History of a dangerous idea by Mark Blyth:

Yes, I've just copied that from Wild's post. Like you, Wild, I really enjoyed this book. That is, I enjoyed the style it was written in, not necessarily the stuff he explains. The book is extremely easy to read. In fact, that would be my one complaint about it: I found myself having to stop and mentally check that I had absorbed his points, since I found it very easy to just keep ploughing through. Blyth lays out the history of economic thinking, going back to some revered Scottish gentlemen, which has fostered austerity. He examines case studies that have been used by pro-austerity advocates, and pretty much finds them all falling short of the economic miracle formula austerity is touted as. For all that economists want to regard their field of study as a science, it's pretty clear to see morality as the motivating force behind austerity, and, in fact, supply-side economics in general. It is interesting to see the contortions, hypocrisy, and double-standards that Austerians (and Austrians) have to go through to justify their ideas--and how, in the real world, those ideas are woefully awful at achieving the results they claim. Blyth lays out lots of information, and as Wild mentions, has a good look into modern Europe. Well worth a read. I suspect most people will read it in far less time than it took me.
Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities ~ Voltaire
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