Monday, December 21, 2009
Bees: Margaret Atwood's The Year of the Flood and Douglas Coupland's Generation A
"Time is not a thing that passes...it's a sea on which you float."
Atwood's prose, timeless; her zeitgeist, cryptic. Yet, interesting that two Canadian authors would publish works with bees in 2009.
"People who think that dying is the worst thing don't know a thing about life" (Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kidd) may be a connecting thread, but I can't really say, as I haven't read it. I did see the movie, though it didn't make that much of an impression, and I pulled up the "look inside" version from Amazon for the first few pages. I think Kidd's "bees" in 2002 may have sparked something in these two Canadians culminating 7 years later in their own metaphoric explorations of bees as magic messengers between worlds.
I'm just finishing Coupland's Generation A and am stung by the viral nature of stories. As physics proves that softly batting butterfly wings change the course of history, in a simpler world, we recognize that stories are the bread and butter of metaphysical sandwiches around the world.
The experience of bees swarming is as disturbing a force of nature as a violent storm. The buzz starts softly below the level of awareness, growing in volume as their disturbing and unexpected quickly moving black cloud is spotted. Still not registering on consciousness, as the phenomenon is most uncommon, we are given a few moments to consider sheltering options while yet unaware of the origin of the threat. And thousands of bees, moving as a single unit, are most certainly a danger to be avoided even if the likelihood of drawing their attention away from the swarm unlikely.
Atwood's bees are somewhat less central to the story than Coupland's and yet the mythology and relationship to human psyche form a pivotal point for both novels.
Atwood's bees represent collective consciousness, while Coupland's bees are seminal in their sting which Coupland correlates metaphorically to communication between/across mammalian neuropeptides.
Read them back to back, or simultaneously, for a rich Canadian rush.