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One day I lay down on the lumber room floor, head and shoulders against the door, masturbated, and ejaculated into a test tube, after which I got up and poured several drops of sulfuric acid on the semen: the contents of the tube, at first milky and opaque, were clarified. Then I lay down again and brooded, with the sort of melancholy that always follows successful masturbation: how many human beings, blood of my blood, had I assassinated?
One of my aunts—it must have been Rosa Jadlli de Brodesky, the only one who had my tastes and wishes in mind—gave me a chemistry-flavored, illustrated booklet intended for readers my age. An American chemist, perhaps Calvin Fuller, but I can't remember for sure, is at his lab, waiting for his experiment to finish. The result would be crucial for the manufacture of synthetic rubber at the time of WWII.
It is night, and the exhausted chemist falls asleep; then he dreams that a Hamburg alchemist, Hennig Brand — , visits him, and the chemist shows and explains to the astounded old alchemist some of the well-founded miracles of modern science. Most interesting to me, though, was the story of Brand and his achievement. He was, needless to say, searching for the philosopher's stone, and he reasoned thus: the stone, supreme mineral in creation, could come from nothing other than the supreme created being, man.
The argument held a strong attraction for me, and now, at this remove, I can see why. It must have found a resonance with my father's teaching, that one has to contemplate the cosmos from its center, and the center was he, or I, or rather, disregarding the individual, the human mind. Both my father and Brand put man and psyche at the center of the universe, a place I've always found most congenial. But to continue: of all the material products of man's body, Brand decided to concentrate on urine; reasonably, in my opinion, for just think about the possible alternatives.
Alchemists were supposed to search for the philosopher's stone by "rectifying," which meant repeated distillations—rectificando invenies occultum lapidem was their motto: by rectifying you shall find the hidden stone—and it is hard to imagine the old man from Hamburg was capable of providing enough of his semen, of his blood, or of his sputum, for repeated distillations.