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Human Ways, Essay Example

Pages: 4

Words: 1013

Essay

In the cycle of life, the main law is that weaker creature is often consumed by a stronger one, life is followed by death, what was no longer used by one body becomes a source of fuel for other creatures.  On the other hand, while laws of nature are flawless and harmonious, human mind creates laws of its own, and they often result in massive implications for everything surrounding it. The current essay is about Dam Simmons’ novel “Ilium”, mainly in respect to characterisation of Caliban and description of the infirmary as a false end of one’s life.

The first and any other encounter with Caliban and his minions leave the audience with the sense of distaste and actually desire to skip a few pages, where is mentioned. The main reason for such disgust is his appearance and actions. The most common impression would be that he is an evil character and that he eats flesh of innocent eloi and post-humans. He is cruel because living creatures are nothing more than fuel for his gruesome existence. It seems that he is more of an animal rather than human-shaped creature used to kill others. On the other hand, Caliban is not as simple as he seems. First of all, he is not simply a spiritless killing machine but has his own priorities and loyalty. In this context, he obeys orders and rules imposed by his master and god – Setebos. He also respects Prospero. In fact, there are good reasons for him to do so. Caliban views Setebos as a god that supported him while Prospero together with Ariel created him and his clones in order to protect the Mediterranean area from the Voynix. On the other hand, his creators betrayed him and placed him on the outer ring. Under these circumstances, this character can be viewed as a warrior who served his purpose but was left behind because he was not longer useful under new circumstances.

Although Caliban has more from the watchdog-style animal rather than human, he had primitive brain and was capable of judgements. Although he killed Savi, he did not attack her until it was inevitable. He called her “lady” and was quite empathic in their conversation. From one perspective, this shows that he even blood-thirsty machine is capable of certain emotions. From another perspective, it can be argued that the author tried to show that human narrow-mindedness and interference into laws of nature results in unexpected and monstrous consequences. In this regard, it can be argued that both Ariel and Prospero embody results of human vanity and desire to change the natural order. In this regard, Caliban is not a pure evil but rather an embodiment of his creators’ mistakes and vanity. Creating a killing machine for a single purpose is narrow-minded. Sooner or later it would turn in the opposite direction – against its creators. In any case, Caliban has no place in the future of that the world, because he was artificially brought there, and, in order for the human race to survive, he had to be eliminated.

One of the most gruesome passages of the novel is the infirmary. The episode describing heroes’ discovery of what was the purpose of their lives was not just disappointing but simply devastating. While some of the eloi bodies were, in fact, fixed in their twenties, there were remnants of bodies which were obviously consumed by some dark creature, which proved to be Caliban. It practically meant not only the fact that human beings were eaten alive but that human lives were controlled by monstrous creatures, who were looking after them as a farmer looks after his cattle and then mercilessly shreds their bodies to pieces.

The infirmary has a substantial symbolical meaning. First of all, from one perspective, it can be argued that the author tries to show a distorted cycle of life, where human beings are no longer on top of the food chain. In this context, looking into millennia-long history of human activity on the Earth, it can be argued that human activity has resulted in such end for their further generations. If people were fighting each other, destroying the eco-system and substituting natural process within artificial equivalents, their grandsons would not end up in the infirmary shredded as cattle by a humanoid creature created by what used to be Internet and remnants of Biosphere.

On the other hand, the infirmary also symbolises the crisis of human perfectionism and desire to find some meaning in the afterlife. In this context is meant that idealisation of reality and human perception of the afterlife are too human and viewed from a human, materialistic perspective. In other words, an attempt to view cycle of life through human eyes and human materialist values outside energy and belief resulted in quite materialistic perception of reality and meaning of human life as simple means for monsters to go one living.  I would speculate, saying that the message of the infirmary is not about what one shall expect in the afterlife, but rather how self- and world-aware an individual should be in order make a difference in one’s life. Being a sheep and thinking that the world is ideal is a delusion which might lead to the infirmary once and for all. I think that the infirmary is more of a warning for the contemporary civilisation and tempo of its development towards technology rather than spirituality and nature.

Personally, I was expecting something of that kind in the infirmary mainly because life could be that perfect even in the fantastic world of Ilium or particularly in that world. On the other hand, it is quite curious why eloi were kept alive for such a long time of hundred years and only then were consumed by Caliban. What might have been the rationale for letting human beings enjoy their life in the Earth gardens and then slaughter them with such ferocity? I think that the meaning of all mysterious creatures, gods and post-humans were not entirely explained within the novel. Hopefully, the sequel shall bring more light into these matters.

 

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