I wrote this piece on Karma and genes for my friends over at Sub Rosa and their beautiful magazine "Le Petit Mort."
As I was sitting on my flight from Split, Croatia to Copenhagen, I picked up the free inflight airline maga - zine. Yes, when bored and tired, I am one of those people who does that. I opened to a page topped with the headline "Karmagenes: Meet Yourself”, advertising a virtual world of karma, genes, and dating. A dating app. One that required a spit test first, but a dating app nonetheless. First thoughts: “Wait, I know myself. I don’t need to meet myself.” Second thought: “I’ve dated myself, and I would prefer to date someone else since I’ve essentially been dating myself for 32 years.” Scene: It’s 11 p.m. on a Friday, just got home from a gallery opening. Slightly buzzed on cheap champagne. Open Karmagenes. Swipe. Swipe. “Strong financial capability gene, but cancer on both sides.” Swipe left. “Addiction gene. Creative genius gene.” Consider it. No. No. Swipe left. (Kari Stefansson, founder and CEO of deCODE, a genetics company based in Reykjavik, described in the journal Nature Neuroscience that there is a link between a creative gene and a madness gene: “To be creative, you have to think differently,” he told the Guardian. “And when we are different, we have a tendency to be labeled strange, crazy, and even insane.”) How do genes decide on us, anyway? Which stay and which go? How does the DNA dance make your own unique karmic cocktail and attract more dance partners dancing to a similar rhythm for you to dance it out with? Scene: Mom and Dad, probably tipsy off Bud Light and Sutter Home Chardonnay, throw out the diaphragm and make sweet love on the waterbed. Sperm meets Egg. Egg carries LV suitcase and Sperm has an Army backpack. They open them and the DNA strands meet like snakes dancing in the night. Party time! "Shall we bring on the thyroid disease?" “Blue eyes or brown?" They throw down their cards in a cosmic poker game with no winner. How is the karma passed? In the snaky strands? Why not? How else? So they throw down a “tendency toward addiction” card and a “really good at karaoke” one, too. On my next flight, I touched the small screen in front of me, swiping through options. Swipe, swipe, swipe. Through the Wormhole: Are Aliens Shifting Our DNA? with host Morgan Freeman. Play. Yes! I knew it. And if Morgan says, then I believe. But how? Something called transposons fall from space,
sneak into our DNA, and multiply. In fact, half of the DNA on planet Earth right now is alien. This is called panspermia. Okay, it’s a theory. However, it’s been studied over many years, and there’s been substantial proof that life has descended upon us from the outside, modifying our DNA. A tiny ball made of titanium and vanadium was found in Earth's upper atmosphere in early 2015 and an adorable British man, Milton Wainwright, a UK researcher and astrobiologist at the University of Buckingham claimed in a tabloid that the metal ball "could contain DNA." He speculates that it could be an alien device sent to Earth by extraterrestrials in order to continue seeding the planet with life. (Why not?!) I like to imagine some super beautiful Light Beings whis - pering down to Earth. With each whisper they send codes of something new, whispered through cosmic space dust, sent to let us evolve. Sometimes their whis - pers may bring disease. (As scientifically noted, there is evidence that some diseases could have come from the outside.) But they send it to strengthen us, of course. In April 2016, Jiangwen Qu of the Department of Infec - tious Disease Control in China presented a statistical study suggesting that "extremes of sunspot activity to within plus or minus 1 year may precipitate influenza pandemics." He discussed possible mechanisms of epidemic initiation and early spread, including specu - lation on primary causation by externally derived viral variants from space via cometary dust. Scene: Light Being 1: “You know, I think China could use some change.” Light Being 2: “Yes, let’s send down something to slow them down a bit. They seem to be changing the planet rapidly and growing as a civiliza - tion too quickly.” Whisper, whisper. DNA drops down through cosmic dust and meteors. Hits man selling street meat on the hand. Hits woman on bike on her way to her job at the toy factory. Hits 10 million more. And so China gets SARS. And I get freckles! First in my family. Scene: Large Midwestern family at Christmas. Eating ham and biscuits. Child is doing gymnastics in a corner while simultaneously deciphering a Rubix cube. Mom announces, “We just don’t know where she gets it!” The Light Beings high-five. You win the Olympic gold or Nobel Prize. I guess you just have good karma? Wait; let me ask Morgan Freeman.