Fiction: One in 200
I am the last remaining alpha male.
Do you feel that is a bold claim for me to make? An inappropriate one, perhaps? An unsustainable one?
Maybe you believe that someone other than me has a better claim. Someone not of my type. A sportsman, what are they called, jocks? All muscle and poise and ripple, oozing testosterone. No no… a businessman, all cunning and rapaciousness and greed masquerading as taste.
I can see you are married to one. I can see you fuck the other.
Do you not believe the evidence sat here before you? Or perhaps the claim is contradicted by that file in front of you? You believe that a man of my learning, my education, my undoubted accomplishments in academia render me ineligible for the title.
Or my choice of bedroom partners, perhaps. That because I chose to indulge in the finest of specimens that were placed in front of me, cropped hair, concave chests, limbs kneaded with muscle, a downy fuzz instead of stubble, youth untroubled by doubt… you think that it cannot be macho, if you and I might have happened to share the same tastes in the past. That my choice was once your choice and therefore makes me in some way, like, you.
And yet you smirk at me. When others have come, they are repulsed, or at least pretend to be, by my proclivities and my articulation in defence of them. You are not.
Maybe this is you showing your prime status. Your masculinity in this job. That you will not be out-ballsed. It is a false supposition of course. For in showing me this, in demonstrating it, you lose what makes you you.
But I have no care of this. You are only another interlocutor, sent by an authority that pretends that it needs to know, when of course it would prefer to forget. And when you crack, when your essential weakness reasserts itself, another will take your place. And this loop will begin again, with someone else labouring under the pretence that through conversing with me you will understand me and understand why I did what I did, and that through conversation I will feel redemption, remorse, pity, disgust, self-loathing. And every time, as I’ve told you and those before you and those after you no doubt, such considerations do not apply to me.
Maybe you are smart. Maybe you will start to see why such normalisation and socialisation tactics are useless with me. And not just useless because of the inherent fallibility of a judicial system that preaches that all can be saved – did no one foresee that I would not be interested in being saved if I will never see the outside world again?
But more importantly, not one, not a single one of your colleagues – how many doctoral degrees in psychology are there in your department? – found the obvious. Or perhaps they did, and considered it so outlandish so as to be beyond the bounds of possibility.
Maybe your department needs to broaden its sight when recruiting you and your team. An evolutionary biologist would fit the bill. Because that person would start to tell you something about where I have come from. And even why I did what I did, and would do what I do if I had the chance again.
You composure stays calm, and yet your eyes betray you. You are now confused. And you hanker after a clue. Not the answer outright. Because you still persist in the notion that you don’t need that.
Well, roll this around your salivating tongue: Temüjin.
Oh dear, did you not take ancient history 202 as part of that expensively-assembled education of yours? Standards have slipped at Stanford.
Shall I tease you some more? Or maybe you can venture a guess? Oh of course, in your line of inquiry there is never guesswork involved, only hypotheses proven against theories, and deduced – inducted sometimes – from data, all finely assessed, sieved, recorded.
Well, let me read to you this gobbet. Yes, it’s not entirely barbarous in here; I am given access to some decent reading material. This clipping is from The Economist, your preferred house journal of rationality:
“And there were few males more alpha in their behaviour than Genghis Khan, a man reported to have 500 wives and concubines, not to mention the sexual opportunities that come with conquest. It is probably no coincidence, therefore, that one man in every 12 of those who live within the frontiers of what was once the Mongol empire (and, indeed, one in 200 of all men alive today) have a stretch of DNA on their Y-chromosomes that dates back to the time and birthplace of the great Khan.”
And now there is flicker of recognition. But do you know fully what it means, its implications? Well, the main one is this.
That no one joined the dots.
Your system is blind. Colour blind. You pride yourself on this. All are equal before the law, race, creed, tribe all unconsidered. And that is its problem. Because we are not all the same, not from one race, creed, tribe. If you had looked, had chosen to look, you would have found all you needed to know.
That my blood was spilled over 815 years ago, half a continent away. That from Henity outwards, we have become the men of the modern world. We are who we are because of what we… no no, what he overcame. Father murdered by Tartars. Nomads. A diet of marmots. A half-brother who needed to die as he did not recognise the authority vested in the Khan.
And what he did. The vision to unite ethnically diverse people, build an empire, conquer the world. People could submit without a fight. But if they chose to fight, if they chose to resist, then they could expect no mercy.
And the obvious. A chronicler, Minhaj al-Siraj Juzjani, observed this, if memory serves me correctly: “A man of tall structure, of vigorous build, robust in the body, the hair on his face scanty and turned white, with cat’s eyes, possessed of dedicated energy, discernment, genius, and understanding, awe-striking, a butcher, just, resolute, an overthrower of enemies, intrepid, sanguinary, and cruel.”
Can you now see? Not understanding, not exculpation. But this is me. This is why.
I don’t believe in free will. I believe in determinism, biological inevitability. Someone once said that all men are flawed. How can they not be? The Y is just a broken X, and so are all men broken, and seek to break others around them.
I accepted this, and went a stage further. I gave in to the two-hundredth of me. I chose to be dominated by a fraction, the stem of the letter. Others don’t, others fight this, because they are fools.
And I am aware of the ironies that perhaps – what perhaps? – that you are definitely not aware of. That the empire, that the yasa, in its flexibility, in its strictness, did not stress the importance of biological and cultural ethnicity and race. Turks, Arabs, Chinese, Russians, even some of your European forebears, all as one. That all were equal, including women.
And of course the ultimate: that a Tangut princess castrated him, and the great Khan, husband and lover to 500 wives and concubines, never recovered.
You remain confused by my choice. Not concubines in the accepted sense, the traditional one. Concave chests for me, not convex. But remember: intrepid, sanguinary, cruel. Power.
Pitiful to you, no doubt. You are the pretty, thin black line between order and chaos, respect and deviancy, power and submission.
I am the last remaining alpha male. Until you find the next of my brothers. We are not just on the Steppes. We are in this world, your world, this modern world – we are the challenge that reminds you that it is not as modern as you think. That savagery, injustice, inhumanity are part of who we are, what we do.
I am one in 12. I am one in 200. I am everyman.