I am a silver man. My muscles are dense with that metal, and my torso is sleek, and my brain is smooth. My human friends see themselves distorted in the curvatures of my body: they exclaim disgust, but secretly they are enraptured: they remain my friends. I have seen them in the distance see me: they do not realize I have seen them, for I am looking at my own body. They stop, and gaze on me for a while, and their eyes darken in that odd pupillary fashion. Their eyes become mineshafts in the sky, dank subterranean lengthy spaces floating above the terra in strong but frangible structures. O this perplexes me! If I were a finer metal, then perhaps my vision would be able to penetrate those black tunnels, which lead I am convinced into lit galleries hosting divine (yet solid) loci of volute definition. Strange brains that are not smooth. Thus, I feel, every so often, that I would like to be gold. But then, I should like to be platinum. But then, I should like to be philosophy. We metals shall never be satisfied....
I keep my lodging at the Mercury River. There is an inn there, run by an iron woman. She is dull, and does not reflect; she is subject to corrosion. She is metal though, and I own the kinship. There are not many of us; we keep a solemn sodality, and accord every fellow metal being that dignity which befits even a base metal. This is not to say that I do not accord my human friends respect. Do not misjudge me. It is simply that metallic nature is pure, whereas somatic nature is deceptive since it conceals its imperfections within a soft sort of orgasmic flesh. Yet it is this very softness which attracts me to my friends. I am unlike my metal brethren in this respect. Most metal men and women keep aloof from the fleshly genders: giving these reasons: obscenely fluid, lasciviously malleable, perverse.
(The iron woman brings me my meals. Otherwise, she leaves me alone. We do not speak usually, unless concerning the rent. She does not mention my human guests, although I know she is bothered by their coming; she cannot conceal the morose squeal her feet make on the steel steps as she guides visitors to my rooms.)
When my friends visit me, I do not speak much. They prattle on, as humans will, and I listen politely. They do not mind that my response is minimal. They understand my metal nature, at least insofar as it is resistive to conversation; for they do not, I assure you, understand my metal nature! They see my shiny surfaces, and this is what they understand. They see their own strange faces there, and this is what they understand. They see pupillary tunnels twisted by convexity, and this is what they understand.
I say, this is what they understand: I am them.
I know better, for I am me, but I feel no compulsion to correct their false notions. Their continual mistakes I find cute, their egocentric uncertainties endearing. They are so frail, so doomed.
Indeed, they bloom and wilt before my vision, these short-lived lifeforms: I have seen a hundred generations pass. They start rosy, but then a horrible jaundice creeps in, and afflicts not only their skins, but their bones as well. Gradually, yellow usurps; red yields, then flees. Yellow brings a brittleness into their human softness. There is a poignant crepitation whenever they reach or bend. Eventually, they crack apart, disintegrate into what they call Death, their slender bodies of latticeless chaos too fragile even to withstand the minuscule gravity of this planet. What little structure they possess dissolves, and without cohesion their constituent minerals are disseminated afar, so that a human man, Dead, may be a Mouth in Maui, a Nuque in Norway, an Organ in Ohio, and a Penis in Paraguay. It is almost absurd to assert their viability, since it is so temporary, but I assert it. My liberal ideas are not shared by many in the metal races.
I have two silver friends, though, who share my ideas. They visit me less often than do my human friends; and sometimes I even visit them, whereas I never visit humans. When they come, we bathe and frolic together in the river. It is such a pleasure to swim, and to admire the guttate bodies of my friends as they emerge from the quicksilver currents. Those quivering globules roll and mass together and give the illusion in our silver surfaces of an almost indecent liquescence. If a monk of the fundamentalist Fraternity of Lead were to see us, he would without doubt revile us for our obscene public display. The Mercury River is known for its decadence: which is why I choose to live there. My silver friends and I conduct orgies every so often, but in private: even we liberal silver men and women have our limits. I have many times remarked on the fundamental dichotomy of human sex and metal sex. Human sex entails a casehardening of male flesh, a smelting of female flesh: ductile extension, flexile intussusception: fusion, friction: heat: ecstasy occurs when the system melts. Metal sex is the precise opposite: it is a cyclical process of debasement and refinement: both bodies liquefy, alloy, together tainted anneal: reliquefy, rectify, anneal apart pure: this repeats, as many times as desired: ecstasy occurs in the cool periods of mutual hardness. My human friends wonder how ecstasy may result from such stasis; but I ask of them: does not the ecstasy of sex in both races arise from the unification of disparate entities? and therefore, if this union is the common and essential element, sex’s universality, how may ecstasy in the midst of their flux be achieved? They cannot answer satisfactorily.
But O, I would like to know the answer. For it is indubitable that my human friends do achieve some sort of ecstasy in their strange comminglings, their oiled enlacements, their awkward flesh-meshes. I have theorized that they are seeking the same sort of experience -- the coolness, the mutual hardness -- but they are simply incapable by virtue of their fleshly nature. It is a paradox: for they are soft, yet cannot merge; whereas we are hard, yet may and do merge, to such a degree that individuality cannot be discerned but from within. I believe they envy me this: my hardness, my cold silver sheen. I have seen them looking. But I cannot know, can never be certain: for I cannot see in. I know the smooth brains of my silver friends, for we have been mutually hard. It is the human brain, however, which most piques my curiosity. But those tunnels are too dark, and I am not noble enough to shine in. I wish to enter in!
I met a gold man once. I would have asked him of the human mind. But he had no mouth, and he only nodded gravely when I introduced myself. I admired his bearing, his luster, his beauty. I would sacrifice my mouth to be a gold man.
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