Crossing the Dark Side.

Hi everyone!

Well, this is a bittersweet moment. It was such a pleasure reading everyone’s blog posts throughout the course. Some may argue that online classes are a snooze, but not this one!

I really appreciate all the comments and insight my amazing group members have given me on all my posts. You all rock! Just because our class is coming to an end, doesn’t mean you should stop those minds from running wild :). I hope to see a future post from you all sooner than later because I believe each one of you have really great ideas.

I want to also give a huge shout-out to Dr. Travis! I never thought I’d pick up any more gothic novels since Frankenstein. Nor did I ever think I’d be able to tread through such dark themes. But with your guidance and diverse choices of readings, I felt comfortable. Thanks for allowing me to step into the dark side of literature!

So, before I close this off, I wanted to mention my contribution to the final project. It’s located as a separate page on the left if any of you are interested ;). But I must warn you, I am no Da Vinci! Still, I hope you enjoy my little drawing.

We made it guys! We’ve crossed to the Dark Side and it feels oh so good.

And if any of you are graduation, let’s cross that stage together! WOOOHOOO!

I wish everyone the best in their future endeavors. And if by chance any of you write a future best selling gothic novel, I WANT A SIGNED COPY haha.

Stay awesome Gotham,

Clarissa.

The Passage, The End.

I feel like compared to the other vampire/horror novels, The Passage is very different. With most thrillers, the scary characters and gruesome scenes are what make them so enticing. Of course, those elements are what make the novel fitting for the genre, yet Cronin keeps that same page-turning, stomach gripping, feeling of fear without the crazy graphic effects. He creates a story that doesn’t seem so fantastical, it feels real, and that is terrifying enough.

Lois Lowry’s book, The Giver is a dystopian novel that has some similar elements to Cronin’s story. In The Giver, the Community lives in a perfect world. There is no fear or war, no pain or suffering. The people in this society live free from negativity. Ultimately, it looks like a utopia. However, we see that it is definitely a dystopian society. “The truth” is hidden from the people and those in power do horrible things. Just like The Passage, members of the Colony, especially children, don’t have knowledge about the outside world or The Time Before.

When Jonas received the truth from The Giver, he is overwhelmed. He experiences pain and suffering, something that is completely new to him, and his perception of life is changed. In The Passage, members of the colony had a similar reaction. There was a lot of confusion and pain after Viral attacks and the journey outside the wall. The main difference of The Giver and The Passage, is the Colony never experienced any benefits of a utopia. They were struggling to survive and keep safe, where the Community always were.

I really enjoyed reading Cronin’s book because it had so many great moments. It wasn’t “scary,” in the sense that I couldn’t sleep at night, but it was terrifying to imagine a world like the one Cronin creates. The Passage is now one of my favorite novels because it really brought me into a whole new world. It didn’t feel clichè or boring at all. The book is VERY long, but the writing was so good, that I didn’t mind it one bit. I’ll definitely recommend this book and can’t wait to jump into the second installment!

From Inside The Walls

I remember feeling a bit uneasy just moments before the lights went out. Everything felt different, even the air. I was walking back home when it happened. I heard sudden screams from the walls and I felt the ground beneath my feet tremble, or maybe it was just my own feet shaking from the unknown. People ran with their hands in the air in the form of surrender. So I just followed the crowd and ran, to where I didn’t know. Why, I was unsure of as well. 

But that’s when I saw it. A giant, hairy figure with teeth that shined as bright as the lights I’d been so used to. I hid behind a plank of wood in a nearby shack. For only a moment it’s body stood still. It’s nose pointed up in the air and inhaled a scent I could have sworn to be mine. But it ran, so fast that I thought I’d just dreamt it all. I’d never thought I was capable to have held my breath for as long as I did. I crouched down with my hands over my ears and tried to drown the screams and sudden thumps. I didn’t know if they were bodies or more of those monsters that jumped the walls. I thought we were all done for.

No one told us what was out there. All I knew from the moment I was born, is what is inside these walls. But with the Watchers always on patrol, I knew there was something in the beyond. They had to be looking out for a reason. Now, it is all clear. The walls exist to keep us in, and those whatever-you-call-it out. The lights were on to keep us from the dark, because we always needed to see.

I’ve never witnessed The Colony in such fear or chaos. I isolated myself behind that piece of wood until I saw human bodies creeping out from hiding. We all gathered for a meeting and that’s where it was announced. There was a surge in the tower, which caused the lights to go out. But we all had the same thought. The lights never went out. And when it did, look what happened. 

We were all ordered to go home after the Household assured us that everything will be okay. However, I knew that was not the truth. The Colony is no longer safe and in a sense we’ve been living like it always was; but that’s another lie we believed. Even in such a fearful turn of events, I want to deny all my worries. Maybe knowing we have an enemy will wake everyone up. Maybe we can prepare. Maybe we can find a solution to the lights. Maybe we can continue living. Because to fear means you’re still alive. To live, means that you are willing to fight. 

Still Human

Scary movies work because of two things:

  1. An AMAZINGLY gut-wrenching plot.
  2. Freakishly terrifying characters, physically speaking; because that’s what sticks with audiences the most.

That second point is essential. I mean, I remember watching Insidious (BOTH movies, because I felt brave) and praying that the evil spirit lady doesn’t reveal herself to me when I look out my kitchen window. I’D DIE. Monsters, demons, vamps, and all the other supernatural entities we know of are scary, because of the obvious fact that they look the part. We immediately associate them with evil, make up stories in our minds as to why they ended up that way, and judge their character because of what we are used to.

Cronin takes us into the Virals’ minds to debunk that “evil” association we place upon vampires. Members of the First Colony fear Virals. Children are not to know of the world before the spread of the virus or what is outside the walls. The Lights remain on so the Colony will never have to fall prey to Viral attacks. These creatures, with their claws and glowing teeth, send shivers up one’s spine whenever there is an encounter. They are “soul-less,” violent, blood thirsty vamps after all. Yet, because we are taken into their minds, Cronin reveals a forgotten truth. These Virals were human once too. Even in their new bodies and abilities, that small part of human nature still remains.

When Amy uses her telepathy to help Peter escape, we see how Cronin restores humanity back into the perceived realm of evil. The association of malice and monster takes a whole different turn. I honestly thought Peter was done for! But this girl, who we know to be infected, saved him.

Humans and Virals are similar in the sense that they still have the capability to be rational. Virals are strategic creatures that don’t “attack” without a plan. They also travel in packs, which is human-like because we cannot survive on our own. Instinct is also similar between humans and Virals because they protect their own. Whenever threatened, they react. We all have that “animal instinct,” I guess. What separates ourselves from these creatures is the fact that we don’t crave blood. Actually, now that I really think about it, we aren’t that much different. We think, act, and remember all the same. Fear is what makes us believe they are vicious. But did we forget who started all of this? HUMANS.

The Passage is no Twilight (and I am glad it isn’t), but I do see a connection to the movie Dracula Untold. Vlad’s kingdom is threatened by the Turks and in order to save his people, he makes a deal with a mysterious vampire in the mountains. In drinking the blood of the vampire, he turns into one and becomes a monster that the people are scared of. What his people don’t understand is that Vlad did this for them. They remember all the horror stories of how vicious and dangerous the undead are, in turn, they fear their own prince. The people forget all the good he’s done for them and the great sacrifice he made. Instead, they fall into the trap of stories and automatically see Vlad as evil.

What the movie does is similar to Cronin’s strategy. The “untold” story of the “monster” is revealed and the script is flipped. Cronin uses memories and the way Virals think  to challenge the idea of them being purely evil. The movie raises the same question: “so, can one be a monster but still be good?” Both the movie and Cronin show their audience that we simply don’t know everything and are quick to make associations because of preconceived ideas of a whole different situation. Our immediate association of monsters to evil blurs the possibility of them being good, even in the smallest sense of the word.

Beyond Our Capabilities.

As human beings, we have choices. What separates us from other animals is the great ability to rationalize things (the argument of some doing this better than others is another topic in itself). We can go through something step by step, figure out an array of outcomes, and make a decision based on that knowledge. Once someone or something steps in the way of our ability to make decisions, we should feel threatened; especially when it comes to decisions about our bodies.

In Justin Cronin’s The Passage, science over steps its boundaries in forcing inmates to be a part of Project Noah. Because these individuals have lifetime sentences and has done (or wrongly accused) of doing something very bad, it does not erase their humanity. At the end of the day, they must give consent to partake in this research therapy. Even though they must sign the dotted line and give these scientists the OK, I feel like it wasn’t real consent. It’s a manipulated choice, and even in that, science wins. Amy was no different from these inmates. She is young and isn’t fully aware of the world around her, yet because she is needed for testing, she must partake in it. In both cases the individual’s choice is taken away or manipulated.

I believe that research is a great thing. To discover new information and potentially use it to our advantage to cure sickness is a positive thing. However, all these practices and experiments on humans and other animals can take it a step too far. Unless the subject consents to being part of this experiment, I don’t think science should force themselves on anyone. It is important to have the ability to choose. So, if someone is willing and able to contribute to the world of science, then by all means. Though, if science just takes and takes with no consent, it is a major problem.

Human desire for greater knowledge is inevitable. Our brains just work differently from other animals. We are inherently curious! We shouldn’t say “no” to the desire to know, but we should be aware that our minds do have a capacity. There is only so much we can stuff in this noggin of ours, as well as process. To be all-knowing is impossible for humans so we should aim too high. Plus, it’s good not to know everything. To have too much knowledge means added responsibility and can even be threatening. So when should we draw the line? Well, if you feel like your head is about to explode…maybe you should take a breather.

There is a really interesting article that gives a warning to the alternations of embryos. In a new genome-editing method, scientists are able to extract, add, or completely change a particular gene in the cell. This is supposed to fix “bad cells” or cure mutations. But this method and research has caused quite a debate. Those opposed to further research state that changing DNA can affect other generations to come and we really can’t see that far into the future. The alterations made can cause side-effects and we just don’t have all the answers. Testing on embryos are far different then testing cells of a monkey or rat. To say that previous experiments on other animals will have the same effect on humans already raises a red flag. Sometimes, we can’t rely on all the data that is gathered or assume something will go smoothly. Everything has potential to experience errors.

I found this article to be very interesting and it definitely raises awareness of the long-term effect science can have on life. Going back to the topic of choices, I felt that this article emphasizes on the effects of future generations: babies, little tiny embryos that can’t speak or say “no.” It is a warning. That because of science’s efforts to create a new future, to make a choice that can affect the upcoming generation’s decisions later in life, it puts stakes even higher. This is all a gamble, with potentially dire consequences; not only for the immediate generation but for all of humanity in the future.

Project Noah

We’re not talking about curing one disease, Agent. We’re talking about curing everything. How long would a human being live if there were no cancer, no heart disease, no diabetes, no Alzheimer’s?

A world without disease? Now that’s a place I’d want to live in. This ideal is pitched in Justin Cronin’s The Passage, to have the human race saved from all the suffering that happens because of viruses. “Project Noah” is an experimental drug therapy that not only cures diseases from the human body, but has the potential to make them even healthier than ever before. The only twist is the subjects that are chosen to partake in this experiment. As soon as the Sykes gave the orders to gather up some death-row inmates, my breath shortened. This is not a good idea. These folks had a bad run with the law and suddenly we trust them enough to taste the “benefits” of the new drug? We don’t even know the full effect of this “cure” and how it can change a person completely. All of this is an experiment and can easily backfire. Then what? The world that Project Noah wanted to improve, ends.

I think that the biblical reference of the project to Noah’s Ark is very interesting. In the biblical story, God instructs Noah to build an ark and save a pair of each animal on Earth from a major flood. In return, Noah’s family is saved and the whole world is basically anew. This even symbolizes the cleansing of the sinful world we live in and a fresh beginning. The novel’s Project Noah reflects on the notion of a “new life” or “new world.” This project will “cleanse” the ill body and make it even better than ever before.

The narrative also touches on the number of years Noah lived for. 950 years of life sort of runs the path of immortality, in my eyes. There is a fixation of living forever and the fear of death amongst humans. We try to stretch the number of years we are given and live it to the fullest extent we know how. Project Noah plays around with that idea and shows how much it is desired. A healthy, long life is the ideal in which the project strives for.

The search for the fountain of youth and obsession of shaping a perfect human or life is evident in the world we live in today. There’s so many ads that pop up on social media that supposedly make you thinner or youthful. Product pitching, especially those that declare “health benefits,” are seen everywhere! It’s not bad to want to be healthier, but doing so in an artificial way is not the answer. The demand for fast results is abused by the medical market because they gather people to try out their product. It is easy manipulation. This world that Cronin sees in the beginning is obsessed with improving the human race. Yet, it goes bad when the virus completely changes the world and houses vampires that are ready to feed. Yes, it is a very scary world to live in, but what’s even more frightening is the fact that all the experimental projects out there today in the medical field can potentially backfire.

Long Live Cthulhu?

The turning point for me in H.P Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulhu was the encounter with the cult. The reason why I chose this image was to show how the idea of the cult was even scarier than Cthulhu itself. Through them, the story lives on. They worship this scary figure and praise it for its destruction. We talk about how Lovecraft uses history to sort of frighten us and I can’t help but think of the “afterlife” of Cthulhu through its cult. Sure, they were captured and slain, but who knows! The idea may live on forever. Legends don’t die easily, which is why we still talk about them today.

Also, the image shows how big Cthulhu was thought to be. I want to say that this is not just to do the character justice, but to really emphasize on how the cult viewed Cthulhu. It was such a powerful being and the size of it should be just as intimidating. It reflects strength, darkness, and fear, just as I saw Cthulhu to be.

I found this Pinterest Board that is dedicated to monsters like Cthulhu and thought that it had so many great images that reflect Lovecraft’s story. I must warn you, some of the images are pretty intense. Well, what can I say? This story itself was intense!