The story about the retirees refusing to allow their pup Lancelot to shuffle off this mortal coil when his natural life ended by ordering Lancelot Encore (cute puppy pictures), the first one-off, made to order, cloned animal, is interesting to me more for what it says about the older couple, Ed and Nina, than what it says about technology.
Cloning is old hat. It’s been going on for some time successfully now. The news nature of this comes from the fact a person was able to pay lots of money and get a “copy” of their preferred pooch. It’s an “Imagine that” kind of thing, nothing more, from the technology side.
But the couple intrigue me.
Have you ever experienced an idyllic situation? The light is just right, the leaves in the trees, the grass under your feet, the water of the river and the touch of sand in the barbeque. We want them to continue forever. We desire to hold onto these minutes and relish the moments as they fly inexorably onward, until we’re packing the car again and driving home and back to work grind on Monday.
There is an undeniable desire to freeze frame life and contain the moments that we find are perfect. But life keeps moving and so must we.
Miss Havisham perpetually in her moth eaten wedding dress with the rotten cake would have cloned her beloved had she the change.
And so the Otto family have become the Miss Havisham of our age. Technology can fix everything, including bringing the dead back to life.
When we insist on living “as things were” we deprive ourselves of our future. When we insist on constraining our lives to some eternal “present perfect” we forego any growth, sorrow, or joy or the other parts of life which are necessary for normal human function.
Humans may wish for an eternal ideal, for that perfect time. However, we need the eternal change and constant motion through which this world functions. To hold onto things which must change, forcing them through our own force of will to remain unchanged, is to deny our own humanity and to fade from the real life which would beckon us onward.
Death is as much a part of life as life itself. Not in an Eastern Yin/Yang way, but in a Western form of closure. We begin, we pass, and we end. Everything in our life follows the same path on different time tables.
And so the Otto family have relegated themselves to the eternal past. They may continue to grow old and pass through this world, but they have achieved no nirvana or eternal blissful stasis.
Lancelot Encore will die too. None are god enough to prevent that. And Ed and Nina will together sit in their moth-eaten wedding dress beside their rotten wedding cake, watching out the window with hope that Lancelot will once again run through their lives.
It’s not happiness, it’s Havisham.