The Page

A tale of intimacy and loss

Tag: Genetics

Genome

 The work is intensive, and captivating. Our daily schedule has increased from six hours to eight, and I now finish my day at six, one hour after my companions. We have agreed that from now on we meet at the apartment in Kreuzberg, and I enjoy the prospect of three beautiful women waiting for me there every day…

As a member of a highly scientific community I feel at times overwhelmed by the knowledge of those specialists. The geneticists hold the high ground, as the debates have moved irresistibly towards the feasibility of clearing the human genome from the spurious anomalies that are cause to so many diseases and unhappiness. My own genetic spectrum was used several times as example, which made me a little uneasy at first. Gabrielle, who has become ever so friendly and chatting, reassured me, and explained that my case was most interesting since my antecedents presented a variety of mutations. I am still perplexed about that remark.

We received several thorough exposés of the current status of genetic science, and of its possible applications. I discovered that our group comprises at least four Nobel prizes, in genetics and medicine. The work is split each day into one theoretical and one practical seminar, with open discussions in-between. The other non-biologist member of the group is a young Korean lady, named He-Ran, who appears to be a statistician specialising in demographics. Demographics is the other strand of work for this group, but we have not yet started in earnest. This is where this work group dovetails with the environment and climate change strand of work.

Our evenings in Kreuzberg are enchanted and tender: the four of us seem to be under some sort of charm, a spell, that now governs our emotional life. Sarah and I were never prude, but now, together with Melissa and Jane, we have utterly forgotten any inhibitions we might had left in us. It may be the city, and the contrast between the stern work of the day and our relaxed evenings. Jane, as ever an enthusiastic and imaginative participant in our games, but also a critical observer, thinks that we are in someone’s story. Perhaps it is true: we seem to be floating happily in a direction that no longer depends on our own will.

Today there was a slight change to the normal schedule: I was invited to take part in a smaller group test in a genetic lab in Friedrichsain. We were driven there in a small grey van with reflective windows, six of us including He-Ran and myself. The others were all specialists in genetics or human biology. The work consisted of a deeper study of genes conditioning certain mental conditions, and their counterparts: those that appear to enable some aptitudes to science, mathematics and creative skills. There was half an hour of a film that seemed to suggest that similar studies on other species may yield interesting results for humans as well. He-Ran thought we were being prepared for some experimental work.

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On the threshold (preamble to Book 2)

les-sources-du-nil:  Akira Satō  佐藤 明  From  Elga ~ We know we can win, overcome the objections and fears that obscure our collective judgment, and get the result we want: shape humans to our image, and save ourselves, project ourselves into a new future… But we have not shut our eyes to the dangers. Humans are a clever species, primitive, in their science, in their awareness of their wider surroundings, but clever in the way wild predators are. Many of us think that they cannot be trusted. But on the scale of our own evolution, up to where we are now, what does “trust” mean?

We have engaged with their planetary organisations, we are communicating with their leaders. They have an innate sense of where profit can be, so they are interested. Removing their weaponry under their very eyes did it, such a simple thing. Their best corporate minds are exercising themselves to think of possible applications! We know that some of their scientists are almost in the state of denial about it all: it cannot be done, it’s against the laws of physics. Others are already working, silently trying to decipher what we have given them: the first steps towards the truth.

Then there is Julian. The human being with the unique genetic make-up that may make it possible, if we chose to sacrifice him, to regenerate ourselves: a probability in a billion, if left to chance, but we have the science to improve those odds. This science has produced the woman Melissa. So much has already been achieved, and we must be patient. But we know: Melissa and Julian are a unique pair, and if we lose them, we have to restart form the beginning, and, on this world, it may then be unlikely to succeed. Our chance is here, now, and we must take it.

Sarah ~

We have now been in Berlin for four weeks, working on the tasks assigned to us by Gabrielle. We are absorbing the incomparable atmosphere of this city, my city. What a change for us after the long months of anxiety in London and New York… Julian is now deeply engaged in the group that is considering demographics, genetics and gender. He was at first very surprised to see that he was there the only non-scientist. Most of the group members are biologists, medical doctors, or mathematicians. The majority of the participants are female, and originate from outside the US and Europe. The introductory meeting did not spell out who was to head this work, but of course it is Gabrielle herself. We – Melissa, Julian himself, Jane (who has now joined us from her last fashion show in Tokyo) and me – have been discussing Julian’s role every evening in the little flat in Kreuzberg. We have not concluded anything yet. Julian is still only a nearly silent witness to the deliberations. Yet Gabrielle makes clear to him almost everyday how important – essential she says – his participation is.

Melissa and I are part of the environment work group, led by Katsumi, the Naval officer and biologist who is, in our view, someone very highly placed in the hierarchy of the Great Power to Be. This appears to be the larger group and has participants from all over the world, with perhaps a majority from Asia  and South America. However North America and Europe are well represented too.

The daily routine in the Chancellery, or at the Russian Embassy where some of the other strands meet (the military certainly meet there, we are not sure where the diplomatic group meets, it may be in one of the many government buildings in Unter den Linden) is very regular and fixed. The day starts at eight sharp in the same room of the Chancellery we started in with a brief (fifteen to twenty minutes at most) meeting of all groups recapitulating the day tasks, and stating progress made expressed as percentages of the whole work programme. The start of the conference proper is still a month away.

Early morning the four of us ride to a gym nearby and we exercise for an hour, followed by a simple breakfast on the Potsdamer Platz. Jane then leaves us to ride back and work in the flat, chiefly on the phone to her many correspondents through the world, and preparing the next show. She goes out to run for a couple of hours in Templehof most days. Melissa and me then leave Julian and we join our respective groups. The day finishes at five with a short break for lunch.

A pattern clearly appeared in the environment work group a few days after we started. The group was provided with an impressive library of films, documents, videos, interviews and other material and the first task was to draw up a list of the most pressing priorities on climatic changes or suspected changes. The next step, where we are now, is to identify the obstacles to a comprehensive world wide agreement on policy making. In other terms we are trying to plan a redo of Kyoto. This time procrastination is no option.

Katsumi, who turns out to be from a wealthy Chinese-Japanese family from Northern China, holds several PhD’s from Asian and US universities as well as a doctorate in medicine from Tokyo University. With us she wears the most sober and yet exquisite traditional Chinese clothes. Her agenda is clear: to obtain agreement from the participants on an agenda for a follow up treaty on carbon and other environmental issues. Water is also part of this picture. This will become part of the decisions of the conference.

Julian is less clear than we are on the direction taken by his group. However he knows from informal contacts with other participants that Gabrielle is looking for a proposal on demographics and the role of women in the new order. Some participants have strong views as to what this should be. Julian thinks that Gabrielle won’t reveal the  real aim of the group for some time. The UN general secretary is rumoured to be here for most the conference once it starts.

And what of our evenings? Since Jane joined us we meet at the Gendarmen Market every afternoon after work. Jane is waiting for us in a little café which has the merit of discretion and old Berlin charm, near the French Dom. There we take stock of the day and decide the programme for the evening: Jane usually comes up with good ideas – there is so much to do in this city – and often too with cinema or theatre tickets! Invariably we ride back to the apartment to change and cuddle. For we have succumbed to a wave of lust, to an irrepressible desire for each other, which has no bound. We have given up any pretence: I, Sarah, and Jane share Melissa, Melissa and me share Julian. The four of us adore each other in a way which has made me forget all our doubts. One thing intrigues me more and more though: the way Melissa has adopted my way of walking, my style, even my clothes, and, dare I say it? My way of making love. Julian is over the moon. So am I.