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Failed Clones

Thursday, November 29th, 2012: Dreams, Stories.

I was in an ultramodern exhibition room, white walls and floor-to-ceiling glass, filled with people, mostly fashionably dressed men, excitedly waiting for our hosts to begin their presentation.

Our hosts, the representatives of this biotech firm, were about to demonstrate the results of their breakthrough program in human cloning. Though most of the audience were young technology workers, strangers to me, three people I knew were present: a web engineer colleague and two old friends from the arts. The company had cloned the engineer and one of the artists, whose specialty was performance art.

The crowd hushed as the company brought out the engineer clone. He gave a confident, flawless exhibition of engineering expertise, to unanimous applause.

Then they brought out the clone of the performance artist. Although he looked exactly like my old friend, he shuffled out shyly, fumbling with sheets of note paper, looking down at the floor and mumbling incoherently.

A company rep came over, put his arm around the clone, and gently ushered him out of the spotlight, all the while smiling and explaining that the process had not been perfected, but they were committed to transparency and would continue to share their failures as well as their successes. Again, unanimous applause, even from my friend the performance artist, who seemed untroubled by his failed clone.

What followed was a social mixer in the company’s spotless lobby, absent the clones. The young technology workers sank into long white leather sofas, my older friends in the midst of them, gravitating toward their youthful energy and enthusiasm, seeming to share their uncritical embrace of the new technology as they raved about the potential of what they had seen today. Repelled and alienated, I walked outside, into the sterile lanes of the corporate office park, where perfectly flat, perfectly trimmed lawns of genetically modified grass separated the minimalist white towers of the cloning company – white, a symbol of purity.

I wondered, what was to become of the failed clones?

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