Although bbnewsab conceded that my review of Never Let Me Go was my best effort thus far, my Swedish critic required some “more blood out of the stone”. ; o)>
[An aside: Although I don’t recall that Ishiguro has mentioned it, it can’t be insignificant that he was born in Nagasaki only fifteen years after an atomic bomb leveled it.]
The following is an attempt to placate PV (bbnewsab). The “rest of you may talk amongst yourselves” while he and I sort out the lack of my first attempt at a review.(ha ha not seriously)
bbnewsab: “But I don’t quite understand what emotions or feelings this book woke up in your brain and your heart, KK.
I can easily understand the anger and disgust you must have felt by reading about, for example, Joseph Mengele’s twin experiments and other horrible Holocaust memories brought up to the surface by Kazuo Ishiguro.
Likewise, it’s not hard to realize that this novel must also be about real and genuine love (an emotion closely related to happiness and joy).
But I’m a demanding man, KK. :o)
Now I want you to tell me – and other followers – more about the emotions caused in your brain and heart by this author and his book.”
Me: [The “mystery-thriller” component requires no discussion on my part]
. The other two themes echo in major parts of my life: (a) platonic love and (b) clinical research on human subjects.
(a) I was born into a family who had a profound reverence for and appreciation of the incalculable value of each human life (actually all life). I was the oldest grandchild, and a male (steward of the family jewels). I felt the “I am yours” kind of love every day. I was also charged with delivering this quality to future generations. I hereby pass this torch to my readers.
Click on the following link to understand the loving environment in which I was reared and educated:
“You can live without the person who says You are mine. But you can not live without someone who says I am yours. May you be blessed with at least one such person in life!”― Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go
I was truly blessed by knowing nothing less than unconditional love from a family who impressed upon me: “I am yours”!
Where I grew up, there is an expression: “Now and then, even a blind hog stumbles upon an acorn.” As an adult, I have stumbled upon more than one treasure. First of all my bride followed, by my progeny, all of whom, on anniversaries and birthdays, reaffirm that they are mine, unconditionally.
As a physician, I have learned that many troubled people are primarily suffering from not having someone who has said that they are theirs. I previously wrote: “…. we are … emotionally incomplete. Various psychological elements also connect us to [our] network. We obsessively need to be with others. We think of ourselves as individuals, but we are just components of a network.” [Our “lifeboat” is not just many individuals, but an ever-expanding living system.] “The irrepressible force of life leaves no stone unturned in seeking ways to extend the invaluable larger LIFE [of which we are the temporary stewards]. We obsessively need to be with others. We think we are separate, but we are one. We think of ourselves as individuals, but we are just components of a network.. Life has a purpose; the purpose is the process; the process is the product. It all requires mutually caring with platonic loving exchanges.
“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how” Friedrich Nietzsche
(b) The other major theme is Ishiguro’s strong accusation of the subordination of the welfare of the vulnerable (especially children) to the perceived needs of a larger (and older) society.
Other treasures that I stumbled upon was a student’s place in medical school and later I was awarded N.I.H. clinical research grants [Principle Investigator]. I was charged with the responsibility of testing cyclotron neurons in human cancer therapy.
As these treatments required exposure to relatively hazardous doses of heavy particle radiation, obtaining informed consent was, correctly, essential. The question of treating children with exposure to this experimental treatment was a special case. The legal opinion held that no child could understand the risks, and, therefore, could not, legally, give informed consent. It was even doubted that a parent had the right or clairvoyance to see how the coming adult form of this child would feel about having been a subject to this treatment.
I sat upon several N.I.H. Ethics Committee, deliberating the ethics and legal constraints on informed consent.
In the novel, neither Kathy H., Ruth or Tommy (nor their absent parents) had informed consent [spoiler alert!] in the subordination of their inherent human rights.
“It never occurred to me that our lives, until then so closely interwoven, could unravel and separate over a thing like that. But the fact was, I suppose, there were powerful tides tugging us apart by then, and it only needed something like that to finish the task. If we’d understood that back then-who knows?-maybe we’d have kept a tighter hold of one another.”
― Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go
In summary, Ishiguro touched two disparate, but cherished, parts of my life. bbnewsab, I hope that these expanded remarks are adequately professorial.