Clay's Ark Imagery

Clay's Ark Imagery

Space and beyond

The nefarious parasite that threatens to infect and destroy humanity in this novel comes from deep space. The novel is set in a slightly futuristic science-fictional world where deep space exploration has led to the discovery of alien lifeforms. The return voyage of the Clay Ark Project leaves all infected astronauts dead upon crash-landing except one highly symbolic survivor, Eli Doyle. Doyle knows the imagery of space personally, having successfully navigated the stars in his professional career.

Spirit and microscopic life

Eli is possessed by a parasite that changes his instincts, his experience of desire, and therefore his mind, more or less. This makes the concrete imagery of microscopic parasites and their effect on human consciousness a kind of spiritual imagery. The imagery is properly spiritual because the human experience is radically affected by a natural force to which it was perfectly shaped as a passive vessel and host. The spiritualism of this story also involves the location of the desert and the allusion to Biblical motifs.

The desert cult

The imagery that defines Eli Doyle's horrific rape cult is the desert and the cult attire of the whole institution. Eli Doyle is like a desert wanderer who collects passersby and forces them into his little community where he gets to play God. His pretending to be divine is the psychological effect of the parasite (another reason that the infection is a spiritual symbol), and the outcome of his divine arrogance is that he becomes willing to rape. The cult is therefore a primary symbol for human religion, because a hyper-powerful person has the ability to arrange others around himself, even if he cannot yet control his own self. It is a "cult of personality."

Legendary imagery and allusion

Among the narrative, the educated reader will find clear allusions between the plot and the legendary Jewish and Christian scriptures as found in the Bible. Here are some of the allusions: The Clay Ark is a reference to a Psalm that calls humans "vessels of clay," and the project quests into "the heavens" to try and find "new life," but they end up become vessels for a parasite that amplifies the capacity and desire of their flesh. Eli survives the crash as a "remnant." The unique visitor with experience of life and the stars represents an anti-Christ or anti-messiah figure. Maslin and his daughters reflect the apocalyptic tale of Lot and his two daughters whom he offers to be raped (Eli is also a serial rapist). Eli's name is a reference to Old Testament prophets who often appear as wild men in the desert, like Eli. The ark is also a reference to ark theology which can be found in Noah's story and in the tales of the Ark of the Covenant. Also, the alien crossbreeds are a reference to the Nephilim found in Genesis and in the apocryphal Book of Enoch.

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