Jennifer, I Am Afraid That My Body Has Become Infested With Chromosomes, and I Can Never Return to Knutsford, Part One

in which the case is outlined

Image result for clipper ship


My dearest wife,

I write to you from a modest berth in a clipper in the Indian Ocean, and have been assured that this letter will find its way to you once we dock in Madagascar. The captain has supplied me with paper and enough ink to produce what I am determined will not be a long letter, though I find myself suspicious that you will wish it still shorter. For I am afraid that you may find what I have to say disturbing. I invite you to read my words while sitting and drinking some soothing pepper tea, loose leafs of which I enclose herewith. I trust they will have dried by the time they reach Cheshire. I write to begin what I fear will be a longer narrative than one short letter can contain, and I shall write again when I can.

I must begin by sharing with you some alarming news concerning my researches into the nature and origin of “biological sex,” that very inquiry that compelled me to leave our beautiful home in Knutsford, and you, my darling sweet wife, and Bunko, as we have affectionately named our beloved and intrepid child. I wish Bunko a gay and carefree life. How often I find myself contemplating you both, swinging gaily from play-harnesses, mooching gaily through the gayest meadows and perhaps making daisy-chains together, and smiling and being gay. I do not know what future awaits me, or where these tides shall wash me up. I know that I must stay alive. I do know that I must live. For after conducting thorough inquiry with instruments internal and external, I am afraid that can be no doubt about it, Jennifer: I am with child, and, presuming that my pregnancy follow the usual course, I expect I shall give birth to a child within the threemonth. I shall name the child Bonko, to remind me of you both in the new life I must found for myself. As you must already see, any notion of my returning to Knutsford must be put wholly out of mind. 

Fondly I remember, Jennifer, that bright autumnal morning when first I set forth from our market town to seek the true nature of biological sex. As I boarded the train to London, and waved farewell to you and little Bunko, how keenly I felt in my heart the delight of nature at last opening herself up to me. For what I sought was nothing less than the greatest mystery of all - in a sense, I sought the holy grail, but in my case the sexual connotation of sipping a life-yielding elixir from a chalice was not an accident, but the very matter itself. Let me recall for you, Jennifer, the prevailing theories of biological sex that were uppermost in my mind as I set forth that day. That biological sex was:

(1) a matter of the organs of generation, conventionally named as the phallus (or “good, strong piece”) for males and the pudenda (or “shame hole”) for females;

(2) a matter of the reproductive role, conventionally understood as flighty-depository for males, and anxious-gestatory for females;

(3) a matter of the sexual fluids, named gyzym for males, in honor of the Polish biochemist Dr. Garfield Gyzym, who first exhibited the substance under laboratory conditions, and cwm for females, in respect of its Welsh origins;

(4) a matter of uterine or familial development, the proposition advanced by Dr. Havelock Ellis, indicating a split enfleshment during the ontogeny of an individual organism, a splitting that, in the (at that time thought outlandish) theory of Dr. Ellis, could perhaps remain uncompleted and there a male individual grow to maturity bearing on his flesh tissue-patches of femaleness, wheresoever on his body, and vice versa female individuals with male tissue-patches, so perhaps a full-grown man with a female duodenum, or a full-grown woman with a male nose.

Outlandish indeed that theory seems to me now, Jennifer — but not for the reason that once it did! For I see now that in certain respects Dr. Ellis was not only partially correct, but assuredly he was far too timid in his theorizing. For the truth was more monstrous than he determined, Jennifer. I have discovered not merely and handful tissue-patches, in some bodies, but in all bodies I have observed millions upon millions of what I have learned to call “chromosomes,” or sometimes “Carew mazones” (after Thomas Carew, the Cavalier poet who wrote about these beings, and “mazones,” the Italian word for “freemasonry,” for truly these creatures are the freemasons of the soul), or “kroo-ma-zooms.” It is this latter transcription that most eloquently reproduces the effects that the word has upon the ear when it is heard. In truth these words are inadequate latinizations of words whose true sound was never formed by human throat, but, I truly believe, mad as I doubtless sound, imparted to me by forces from beyond this world. I shall recall one final theory of biological sex, Jennifer, lest I be accused of having offered incomplete testimony:

(5) that the phenomenon we call biological sex was not, in fact, biological at all, in the usual sense of the word, but rather occult or spiritual, such that forces unknown, terrible forces beyond the power of our direct comprehension, shape our plastic forms and bend them to their will. 

These forces (so thought the great Frenchman René Descartes, a believer in this eldritch philosophy) are squirted into the body via what we have come to call “the gland” (for there is only one, and as you know it nestles in the seat of intellection); lately we refer to this ghostly ether by the name of “hormone.” By and by we shall refer to these soul-gremlins by that still more terrifying name whose sounds I have given you, but whose secret is yet unknown to you, and still mostly unclear even to me: the so-called “crow mycelium,” as I have heard it said, or chromosome. Were I to tell you that your very personhood did not develop naturally from your body, but rather has been - since before your birth - controlled and manipulated by tiny, malevolent wizards, who even now may very well be moving your parts and rearranging you without your knowledge or will, you would surely think me a touched man. So I shall not tell you, Jennifer. I shall show you, and I shall draw on the experience of my own body. 

After leaving Knutsford, I spent a night in a small and ugly hotel in King’s Cross, which was nonetheless a restful sojourn. The following morning I set forth for Plymouth, whence arrived, I quickly acquired passage on a ship traveling eastwards. I had no especial purpose for traveling eastwards, you understand, but as you know Jennifer, my best thinking occurs only when my body is subjected to the rhythms of the ocean, and the morning sun beats directly onto my face. Passage on the boat was uneventful, not to say pacific. I became acquainted with two marvelous jack tars, Ringo and Johnny-Boy, who shared with me both some rum tales and the pleasures of their bodies. I taught them the rudiments of my research and they shared with me the knowledge of maritime sports, played with either cards or whatever flotsam could be found at hand. Their games had most excellent and suggestive names - “Finger-My-Neighbor,” was one, and “Bang-a-Mouse” - that brought the blood rushing into my face and other parts. When night came and we fell to dozing, I allowed my head to nestle into Ringo’s breast, heeding well the terms of our Arrangement, Jennifer, concerning the intimacies of men. It was while I lay in Ringo’s arms that I heard the breeze begin to talk to me through the ship‘s timber. “Caroom, caroom,” I heard, a hollow sound gliding over the surface of the water. 

At this point I must pause in my narrative, Jennifer, for the babe kicks inside my body and I must address the matter with some urgency. I can only imagine what terrors you may be feeling as you read these words. You may be sure, my love, that the worst is yet to come. I am quite convinced that these evil genii, the chromosomes, have infiltrated not merely my body, but your own, and when you receive my next letter you will hear the full depth of their peril.

Your doting spouse,


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