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Gattaca

gattaca
On living dangerously

This is the story of Jerome Eugene Morrow, who is & is not who he is. He was born a perfect specimen, replete with all that genetic engineering could offer. The first time he failed at something, he tried to commit suicide, which left him crippled. He then sold his name to a man of inferior genetic makeup, but whose commitment to being Mr. Morrow was enough to abandon his own name. This new man could make him a success.

This man, Vincent (Latin for Conqueror), will show us how to achieve good ends by bad means, which seems to become necessary when once we see that good means do not achieve good ends. The race of supermen created by genetic engineering does not strive. They are conventional to a fault & somehow inhuman: Their trust in genetics makes them ignore the look of the man, & also makes them shameless.

The look of the man is somehow connected to shame, maybe because of its imperfection. Vincent has to learn this, because he must borrow the look of Jerome. He learns in this way that some things must be concealed – that he is himself concealed, & mankind cannot know that he is not Jerome. The public order depends on this; those & only those of whom it is expected to achieve much should achieve much.

This flattery about perfection makes supermen feeble. They cannot face failure, so they can never change their minds. The one experience which is foreign to them is perplexity. They are too orderly. Vincent alone dares look back to the causes of this perfection: Fear of death. His parents wanted to leave birth to chance; they got Vincent, whose heart is weak. Faced with that fear, they made another boy, genetically engineered to be superior.

Maybe these supermen are meant to be protectors of humanity. But they are the highest product of the highest science: They are the end of humanity. Of course, science is a title to rule. Being a product of science is having the right to rule. The problem with these supermen is their shamelessness: They cannot see anything above themselves. Maybe they are too easily persuaded that life is an unmitigated good.

Seeing nature as an origin, the geneticist warns the parents that there is too much imperfection in man. Man must be improved, science must fight to overcome natural weakness, or else there will be suffering & death. The success of this defensive stance wipes out beauty. There is only room for obsession with the good of the body. The private seems inherently criminal. The public seems reducible to an art. In the absence of beautiful deeds, beautiful bodies grow lifeless.

Yet another story about a future in which science threatens humanity with its successes. Find it, see it.