Jun 6, 2017 - Musings    No Comments

Don’t Save Anything for the Swim Back

By Brett and Kate McKay from their blog “The Art of Manliness”

Jun 05, 2017

The hallowing of Pain
Like hallowing of Heaven
Obtains at corporeal cost —
All — is the Price of All —

–Emily Dickinson

In the excellent and under-appreciated film Gattaca, biotechnology and advanced eugenics have divided the “not-so-distant” future into two groups: the “valid” and the “in-valid.”

The valids are those whose embryonic genes were pruned and manipulated to allow for their birth as genetically superior children, destined to bring to fruition their parents’ best hereditary traits.

The in-valids are those who were conceived naturally, by parents who played a game of genetic roulette. More likely to carry “flawed” DNA and more susceptible to genetic disorders and weaknesses, in-valids are barred from society’s important professions and consigned to menial work.

Vincent Freeman is an in-valid. With genes that indicate a high probability of several disorders and an estimated life span of 30.2 years, he works as a janitor while secretly dreaming of becoming an astronaut, a vocation from which he is disqualified.

Vincent’s brother, Anton, is a valid, and their sibling rivalry is heightened by their genetic divide.

Growing up, Vincent and Anton challenge each other to games of “chicken,” in which they both swim out into the ocean as far as they dare; the first one to turn back is the loser.

Vincent always loses, until one day he shocks Anton by outdistancing him. Anton, who cannot keep up, almost drowns, and has to be saved by his genetically inferior brother.

Years later, after an insatiably ambitious Vincent uses subterfuge to join the space program and earn a place, through merit, on a mission to Saturn, the brothers have a rematch. Once more the underdog bests his fraternal rival, who again must be rescued from drowning.

Astonished at this turning of the tables, Anton asks, “How are you doing this Vincent? How have you done any of this?”

To which his brother replies:

“You wanna know how I did it? This is how I did it Anton.

I never saved anything for the swim back.”


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