I finished the two novels I have been reading, On Beauty by Zadie Smith and Lilith’s Brood by Octavia Butler. They were both satisfying reads. Butler hit me the hardest.
Lilith’s Brood is actually three novels in one. Dawn, Adulthood Rites, and Imago. My son-in-law recently read Dawn. If I understand him correctly, he felt that Butler had basically played out the story in the first volume and wasn’t interested in reading more.
I, on the other hand, found that the book moved me more and more deeply as I read it. Butler has created a plot whereby aliens save humanity from itself. The Onkali take specimens of humans just before a cataclysmic war. The story is how they wake these specimens up and what happens after that.
The Onkali determine that humans are genetically programmed for self destruction due to the existence inherent tendencies for both high intelligence and hierarchical impulses. They themselves are collectors of diverse forms of life. Butler does a good job of gradually having humans do terrible things that bear out this thesis.
Hierarchical nonsense can be used to understand a lot of bad stuff in humans like racism and misogyny.
In addition to this theme, Butler expands the notion of mating and parenting to include male and female Onkali and a third kind of alien, the ooloi. The ooloi are necessary for any kind of mating. Before she is finished Butler has groups of co-parents existing between all of the species represented in the book.
The sexual drive is married to curiosity in the aliens. The result was a beautiful poem about sexuality and humanity. I thought it pretty profound.
Speaking of achieving goals, I had my annual check up today. This morning when I took my BP and weighed at home, I have lost well over ten pounds since gaining some Covid weight and my BP is consistently lower.
Weight and BP were higher by the doctor’s measurements, but she believed me that I am making headway with my diet and abstaining from real gin.
We had a pretty amazing day yesterday catching up with Steven Frayer-Isaacson. We knew this guy when Eileen and I were both teaching at St. Damian’s school. The last time we saw him he was 11 years old. We have reconnected due to his diligence on Facebook. We took him and his husband down to the beach and out to lunch. It was a fun day. Lots of memories and catching up with stories from Detroit.