21       

                                                                                                                             Stuyvesant (& Rockefeller) Fink                Rockefeller & Samuel Falk

"No, no, no, it’s not the moral objections, the ethical issues, or the technological difficulties that are holding us back from redesigning ourselves. It’s our love affair with the contradictory creature we essentially are. Humanity is Narcissistic, enamoured of its own reflection. We adore the fact that we’re fickle. We idolize our inconsistencies. We romanticize our struggle to distinguish wrong from right, celebrating triumph over evil while excusing our chronic failures—yet the underlying truth is: we wouldn’t have it any other way. Mankind clings to Free Will, meaning equal opportunity to be malevolent and benign."

"Toward whom, pray tell?"

"Himself and every other entity with which we share this biosphere. Consider science fiction. In 'us' versus 'them' scenarios, no matter how advanced or how superior a given foe might be, when pitted against a human, an alien never wins."

"Because we excel at violence, I take it?"

"Precisely. We disdain, loathe, and despise misuse of violence, yet whenever it achieves a desirable end we herald it as a valiant, virile, and vindicating means. Remove it as an option, render human beings incapable, and witness massive protests by every man, woman, and bully-bound child."

"But if we can’t behave abominably, how can we recognize virtue?"

"Background needing foreground and vice versa: light and shadow, hot and cold, up and down? Sure, contrasts are important. But couldn’t we do without our recourse to committing mayhem?"

"Which is programmed where exactly in our DNA?"

   "Even if we knew, we’d leave it intact; that’s my point. If you look at what we have been willing to alter since the genome first got mapped, nothing of a fundamental nature, in human nature, has the least bit changed."

"Untrue; we’re prone to fewer diseases at birth. We choose the sex of our children. We freeze our eggs and sperm when they’re young and spry. We screen for hundreds of defects before letting a fetus come  to term. What do you call all that?"

"Superficial. Tweaking a gene to ensure 20/20 vision hasn’t lent our species keener insight, just as extending life expectancy has scarcely served to solve the problems we habitually create. What we need—what the planet desperately needs—are Homo sapiens bred for non-perniciousness."

"As defined by who, you?"

"Careful, lad, you’re beginning to sound like your dearly departed mother."

Remington Falk scowls, then winks at his twenty-two year old progeny, the spitting image of himself at that oh-so-enviable age when knowing little of life bestows a blissful brand of Omniscience—next-of-kin to Ignorance and its sidekick Overconfidence.

Home for spring break (though it is autumn, in Wellington), Rockefeller Falk regards his “father” with filial deference at odds with covert condescension:

Hopelessly old-fashioned are the old man’s vain ideals. Humankind’s improvement is best left up to Nature. How can eyes with cataracts (metaphorically speaking) see to correct themselves?

"So you’re still at it?"

"And what 'pray tell' might 'it' refer to, Rockefeller?"

"Searching for the Rosetta Stone of recombinant DNA."

At his offshoot’s cocksure smile, Remington looks askance:

Why, oh, why did I let him leave for California? Stanford is a good school, to be sure, but New Zealand boasts comparable degrees at two of its universities, either one of which would have kept our bond un-stretched. Absence may make the heart grow fonder, but it also grows feebler, too. Psychosomatic or not, our separation has caused real pain, an actual ache of the sort reported by amputees—though this loss, more than a limb’s, torments my entire anatomy. The left side, especially, where I, with Rockefeller's ill-fated namesake, once-upon-a-time was joined.

Overlooking Lambton Harbour, the Falk home is of glass and mast-like spires anchored by timber pilings under an asymmetrical base of reinforced concrete. Designed by the famous Dutch-Javanese architect Günter Wongsojaya, the structure is a striking combination of the nautical, the contemporary, and the Minimalist School of Planes. Spacious, multi-level, friend to light, and ascetically furnished (were shoes to cross its white birch floors their soles would roundly echo), the residence is at once inviting and austere, a place through which young Rockefeller, in stocking feet, loved to romp, sliding on approach to hardedge angles, rooms, ramps, corridors, pausing at a porthole for a quick glance out to sea, then striding, almost skating, on the highly polished decks; 'captain of the ship,' or 'fearless pirate,' or 'mutineer,' were games of solitary play founding fond and lasting memories.

Even now, having parked his loafers on the stoop (house rules), exchanging them for slippers, Rockefeller glides while pacing to and fro before his progenitor… in their living room… with its views of Frank Kitts Park just below… Te Papa to the right… Queen’s Wharf off left… and ‘Windy Wellington's’ agitated whitecaps out on Oriental Bay.

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