Author: Rosie Oliver
An idealised woman never existed. She is an imagined blend of traits in a single glorious perfection, a beautiful Frankenstein of personalities. Not one considered as part of the crowd or an asset to be used or abused by another, but a woman who stands out for her learning, physique, skills and above all, bravery in the face of threats and worse.
She has a virtue for every occasion. There is the courage of Saint Catherine who faced the might of Rome to stay true to her faith. Here is practicality of Saint Dorothea who fled with nothing but the clothes on her back from a brutal marriage. Over there is the independent-thinking Hypatia, martyred because she dared to speak the truth to rulers. All these lived and died in ancient Alexandria. Think what a melding of these women could have done for ancient civilisation.
We want someone like this now to stop the worldwide eco-destabilisation, supply failures and fear-engendered riots. Who would have thought this could happen in 3,222 when we control so much? We even have designer genes to fit us into our environment no matter where we are in our Solar System. Maybe we have made our souls too simplistic. Who knows?
The expanse of our history produced so few who come anywhere close to the nurturing leader we need. One such is Artemisia Gentileschi. Her self-portrait as Saint Catherine shows signs of her vitality, common sense and empathy. She faced her own ordeals, but put the horror of her rape and consequent trial with its torture by thumbscrews behind her. As a prolific court painter, her art demonstrated verve and energy. A loophole in the law of the day let her paint live model nudes when men could not, giving her portraits the cultural edge. She understood Galileo’s discoveries in science and maths well enough to include his results in her pictures like ‘Judith Beheading Holofernes’.
We need an inspiring leader to plan, explain what needs to be done and do so in a nuanced way to satisfy all politicians. Artemisia with her progressive depiction, delicate shading and perspective promises much for this profile. She is a good a starting point.
I did my best to reconstruct her genome using the DNA of distant relatives. There were gaps, some blank, others with choices. Her history helped me estimate how environmental factors would shape her gene expression. Known leadership genes plugged many gaps and I edited out her weaknesses, a lot were shrewd guesses.
We inserted this genome into a ‘blank’ clone. The result looks viable and so like her. Her pale skin has touches of pink where the blood flows near its surface. Her arched eyebrows and short fuzz of hair are brown. Her long fingers are developed for delicate work. She is ready to come out of her induced coma and lead us away from insanity.
I, a woman, give the order to waken Artemisia’s ghost, more like her shadow made into a superlative leader.