Who Speaks For Clones?

Illustration for article titled Who Speaks For Clones?

While all the attention given to human cloning has focused almost solely on questions of morality and bioethics - or on religion and the nature of government power - little energy has gone into questioning the literary impact a human clone might someday have.

Yet it's an interesting question: Will clones someday write novels?

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While everyone worries about the world's first cloned child, the nation's first cloned organ donor, or even the first cloned student at their local high school, it seems far more interesting to speculate on the first cloned autobiographer.

After all, if your clone wrote a memoir, what would it say? Would the experiences it recounts resemble yours?

And whose intellectual property would the resulting book be?

Stranger still, whether or not your clone managed to get everything right, if he or she (or it) came to you requesting an informative interview, complete with briefcase, tape recorder, and open notepad, what would you say? What would it feel like to be interviewed by your own clone?

Or, for that matter, to be interrogated: What if we interrogated captives at Guantanamo with their own clones - how long would it be till the first breakdowns began...?

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Pursuing this line of thought one night, I found myself thinking about Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, in which the monstrous offspring of a god-struck electrical scientist comes back to wreak havoc upon the family of its creator. It struck me that something altogether more interesting and exciting was bound to occur someday, when, say, a special FBI task force could be cloned from the hair samples of a criminal perpetrator, and those clones could then be sent to track down the originary bad one amongst themselves, eliminating that flawed and imperfect model, rubbing out the deviant seed from which they sprang.

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Which leads me to believe that human cloning might finally give us the mythology we so strongly deserve: Cloning will make human life interesting once again.

In any case, the world's first cloned novelist will literally revolutionize global literature. It would even seem, if publishers now find themselves falling further and further behind in the game of capturing consumer attention, that the only genuine way out is to do something historically extraordinary, something everyone will remember - and that is to publish the memoirs of a clone.

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The idea is already out there; someone now just has to do it.

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We only need to look as far as the recent work of British author Kazuo Ishiguro, who introduced - sort of - the idea of a narrating clone - sort of - in his 2005 novel Never Let Me Go. In that book, specially bred organ donors are raised in an isolated English schoolhouse, barely understanding the bizarre, if medically efficient, truth behind their everyday existence.

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But where is the pathos of the clone? The emotion? Where is the first person poetry, the song lyrics?

Where is clone existentialism?

When will the clones get their Faust?

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There's always Michel Houellebecq's The Possibility of an Island, his catastrophically bad step into a kind of sexualized sub-genre of clone sci-fi, in which various versions of the book's narrator reflect across decades of personal experience... coming up with disappointingly little to think about.

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But the question remains: Is there a literary genre appropriate to the experience of the clone? Is it, by default, science fiction? Not autobiography? What about a clone martyrology - or even a new line of travel guides, listing clone-friendly hotels near central London?

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Fundamentally, though, I can't help but wonder what might happen if the world's first novel written by a clone hits the top of the New York Times bestseller list - which it would be bound to do. Everyone would read it. It could be called The Diary of Who I Almost Was. Or The Book of No One.

And if a book of clone poetry gets onto the syllabus of an undergraduate English course at an Ivy League university - what will Fox News have to say about that?

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Who speaks for clones, outside the borders of science fiction - and what happens when the clones start speaking for themselves?

DISCUSSION

s8529hel-old
s8529hel

Correct me if I'm wrong, but cloning is taking the DNA, placing it inside a womb of some sort, and raising the new fetus all over again. So either you will have to add time travel to the mix, or see at the time of birth that you will need someone's clone.

I do not know about any sort of speed up growth to full size, and even it will later exist, you will still need to figure out speed education and experience brain loading, which all together is in the more fictional part of sci-fi at this moment. (Not as if that was a problem, but the article seemed to talk about this based on recent scientific discoveries.)

Your infant clone interrogating you at Guantanamo, without being able to speak, or some 20 years after your capture. Even better, a group of 2 month old "very special agents" tracking down anybody.

And as the previous commenter posted, if even cloned at birth, it'd be a simple twin, especially since we right now have no idea how much of the personality comes from genes as opposed to experience.

And since mentioned poster wanted stuff blown out of proportion, I'll include my usual rant:

My problem with all this is that someone always comes around with these mostly false claims when talking about the ethics and moral issues involved, and derails any sensible debate, which has a direct impact on current, contemporary medical research/procedure. Not thinking this through and making the above claims can have an effect on available medical tools, especially if we think what kind of grasp lawmakers have on technology:) As an author, journalist, and blogger, you should have a responsibility for the possible effects of what you write.

So please think a bit before you type a mix of intelligent remarks with stuff that belongs in B class would-be-sci-fi-action movies like [imdb.com]

This would be important, since there are significant moral questions involved, that should be talked about, and possibly regulated.

Am I completely off?