The best metaphor for our DNA is literature. Like all classic literary texts, our genome is defined not by the certainty of its meaning, but by its linguistic instability, its ability to encourage a multiplicity of interpretations. What makes a novel or poem immortal is, paradoxically, its complexity, the way every reader discovers in the same words a different story. For example, many readers find the ending of Middlemarch, in which Dorothea elopes with Will, to be a traditional happy ending, in which marriage triumphs over evil. On the other hand, some readers–like Virginia Woolf–see Dorothea’s inability to live alone as a turn of plot “more melancholy than tragedy.” The same book manages to inspire two completely different conclusions. But there is no right interpretation. Everyone is free to find their own meaning in the novel. Our genome works the same way. Life imitates art.

_ Jonah Lehrer, Proust was a Neurocientist

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