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Letters from an Ancient Mind

My dear young friend,

Yes, I believe I do comprehend the argument. You needn’t patronize me about genetics; we know how to breed an ass, and that would seem sufficient.

Permit me to rephrase your argument in somewhat different terms. Suppose that I am a brigand, descended – bred, to use your argument – from a long line of same. It is my unfortunate nature that I am born to be a brigand. Alas for me, I cannot help myself. My breeding determines what I am, and that is brigand.

Therefore, say you, righteous and civilized folk should look upon me with special favor. For indeed, instead of denying my breeding, taking upon myself the discipline common to ordinary mortals, I “liberate” myself. I go about the town cutting purses. When caught, I justify my actions by my breeding. Are your magistrates so easily fooled?

Is it not rather that my breeding is that which I must overcome? Give a child honey, he will crave more – to the point of sickness. Discipline must be applied. So it is with your born and bred brigand.

And so it is with your effeminate men. They are every bit as much an abomination as the brigand. They should be treated accordingly. How you have suddenly discovered to the contrary exceeds my imagination. It is as if every prodding of nature must now be exalted, rather than tamed. If you persist in this, you will become a race of barbarians. The barbarian is one who cannot control himself – and therefore must control others by force. For it is the chief character of the barbarian that others are to blame for his troubles, and from them he will extort recompense.

I ask you: for all the blather, is it not the case that the effeminate seek to make you agree that they are righteous? That you are at fault for their troubles, not they themselves? That they will not rest until you admit that you are wrong and they are righteous? It is the surest test of the barbarian.

You distress me most of all with your tale that some of the church think as this. As I told you, we know how to breed an ass. We also know from which end comes the manure. Be sure you know likewise.

Appalled, I remain,

Isaac the Alchemist

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