“Positive Obsession” and Disease

Clay’s Ark left me with so many questions. It got me thinking about when we discussed who was truly at fault for the spread of this deadly disease. There are so many ways that people can look at this, whether they choose to fluctuate between having good intetions vs. not having good intentions. Personally, I can’t really blame Blake…although the spread of the disease was definitely on him. It is funny how one interaction led to such a deadly epidemic despite all the effort that Eli put towards controlling it. But, If I had to blame anyone it would definitely be Eli. I understand that the disease caused compulsions that led to  the control of the thoughts and actions of the host such as when Eli kidnapped Blake and his daughters, but if I had to pin this apocalypic ending on anyone it would be Eli. The ending of this novel really saddened me, because not only did Blake die but so did Rane. Keira, the one who everyone thought wouldn’t make was the only survivor of her immediate family. Because Butler is the author, this doesn’t surprise me whatsoever. After all, she loves to keep us guessing by playing  with the concept of strength and ability.

Strangely enough, This novel reminded me of Butler’s essay “Positive Obsession.” On page 133, she described her positive obsession of writing. She explained how she felt it was dangerous because she couldn’t stop. In her essay, Butler stated that positive obsession involved not being able to stop which is very similar to the spread of the disease in Clay’s Ark. Although this essay was geared toward writing science fiction, the disease acted in an extremely similar manner. It never stop changing and dissolving humanity and was very dangerous in this way. I feel like Clay’s Ark  took the concept of Butler’s possitive obsession with science fiction head on by representing it through this extraterrestrial disease. Butler’s fiction changes and dissolves humanity in Fledgling when human symbionts abandon their culture, in Clay’s Ark when humans contract a disease that changes their DNA and causes them to become more animalistic, and in Wild Seed where many slaves are treated as less than human.

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