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Quarantine (Dead Men's Teeth Book 4)

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‘The Untold Lives’ blog post that inspired this story is about a ship’s surgeon’s report that can be found in the British Library collections. There was an outbreak of Cholera on the indenture vessel sailing from Calcutta to Suriname, and the ship was held in quarantine outside of Suriname for three weeks whilst the disease ran its course. The original report details what ‘The Untold Lives’ blog post that inspired this story is about a ship’s surgeon’s report that can be found in the British Library collections. There was an outbreak of Cholera on the indenture vessel sailing from Calcutta to Suriname, and the ship was held in quarantine outside of Suriname for three weeks whilst the disease ran its course. The original report details what was eaten when and how many people had died, and I used this as a starting point making it more extreme for dramatic effect, exaggerating and adding to the details. I wanted to use the image of a quarantined ship to convey my feelings about where we are as a species. We have come so far in our evolution, all of this capacity for conscious thought, appreciation of art, self-reflection, etc. is all great and I for one am chuffed to have it, but we still don’t have any proper answers. We can’t get to that final understanding. When I try to think about this sort of thing, I feel like it’s the same nagging feeling in the brain that is blocked when I forget a word mid-sentence. It’s on the tip of my tongue, I can feel it there but I can’t quite access it. I click my fingers and close my eyes, perhaps say things like 'that, what is it, erm… thingy, that word… the thing, like that other thing but not…' but of course I have to give up and move on, slightly embarrassed. Why all this stuff? What’s it all about really? We can’t quite access that answer. We try to pretend we know by inventing religion, but of course this doesn’t bring us any closer to understanding anything; we make it all up anyway. It just gives us an excuse to stop asking questions and convince ourselves that we’ve solved it. It’s like a cul-de-sac for the evolution of the mind. We left Calcutta a long time ago, but we can’t quite dock in Suriname. The harbour is just out of sight over the horizon, we can feel it there, we know there’s something there, but we can’t get to it whilst we still carry a disease. What is the disease that keeps us in quarantine? I don’t know. Maybe it’s all the negative aspects of humanity that we need to iron out before we can go any further. Things like pollution, war, or cutting down rainforests. Or maybe its all the social problems like inequality and racism. Or maybe it’s being stuck with our animal bodies and finding there is much more fun to be had with sensory gratification. Given the choice between a day of mating and eating and napping in the sun like a lion, or a day of trying to solve the meaning of life, I know what I would choose. Hopefully it will all become clear when we die. Maybe then we can finally dock in Suriname. We’ll laugh as we pull into harbour and think 'Of course! Duh, I knew it was something like that!' But then, annoyingly, it won’t matter anymore. We’ll be dead.


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‘The Untold Lives’ blog post that inspired this story is about a ship’s surgeon’s report that can be found in the British Library collections. There was an outbreak of Cholera on the indenture vessel sailing from Calcutta to Suriname, and the ship was held in quarantine outside of Suriname for three weeks whilst the disease ran its course. The original report details what ‘The Untold Lives’ blog post that inspired this story is about a ship’s surgeon’s report that can be found in the British Library collections. There was an outbreak of Cholera on the indenture vessel sailing from Calcutta to Suriname, and the ship was held in quarantine outside of Suriname for three weeks whilst the disease ran its course. The original report details what was eaten when and how many people had died, and I used this as a starting point making it more extreme for dramatic effect, exaggerating and adding to the details. I wanted to use the image of a quarantined ship to convey my feelings about where we are as a species. We have come so far in our evolution, all of this capacity for conscious thought, appreciation of art, self-reflection, etc. is all great and I for one am chuffed to have it, but we still don’t have any proper answers. We can’t get to that final understanding. When I try to think about this sort of thing, I feel like it’s the same nagging feeling in the brain that is blocked when I forget a word mid-sentence. It’s on the tip of my tongue, I can feel it there but I can’t quite access it. I click my fingers and close my eyes, perhaps say things like 'that, what is it, erm… thingy, that word… the thing, like that other thing but not…' but of course I have to give up and move on, slightly embarrassed. Why all this stuff? What’s it all about really? We can’t quite access that answer. We try to pretend we know by inventing religion, but of course this doesn’t bring us any closer to understanding anything; we make it all up anyway. It just gives us an excuse to stop asking questions and convince ourselves that we’ve solved it. It’s like a cul-de-sac for the evolution of the mind. We left Calcutta a long time ago, but we can’t quite dock in Suriname. The harbour is just out of sight over the horizon, we can feel it there, we know there’s something there, but we can’t get to it whilst we still carry a disease. What is the disease that keeps us in quarantine? I don’t know. Maybe it’s all the negative aspects of humanity that we need to iron out before we can go any further. Things like pollution, war, or cutting down rainforests. Or maybe its all the social problems like inequality and racism. Or maybe it’s being stuck with our animal bodies and finding there is much more fun to be had with sensory gratification. Given the choice between a day of mating and eating and napping in the sun like a lion, or a day of trying to solve the meaning of life, I know what I would choose. Hopefully it will all become clear when we die. Maybe then we can finally dock in Suriname. We’ll laugh as we pull into harbour and think 'Of course! Duh, I knew it was something like that!' But then, annoyingly, it won’t matter anymore. We’ll be dead.

8 review for Quarantine (Dead Men's Teeth Book 4)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jimmy

  2. 5 out of 5

    Josef Fjall

  3. 4 out of 5

    Christa Leask

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Leask

  5. 4 out of 5

    Charles Rhodes

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mardibooks

  7. 5 out of 5

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  8. 5 out of 5

    Alec Brownie

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