The Hormone Factory, Saskia Goldschmidt
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Saskia Goldschmidt

The Hormone Factory

Наталия Турбина
Наталия Турбинаhas quotedlast year
If you want to be a winner in the struggle for success, you must always know for certain what others dare only guess
Kayy Lewis
Kayy Lewishas quoted3 years ago
Crying over spilled milk doesn’t get you anywhere. What’s done is done, there’s nothing you can do about death’s unpredictable ways.
Danielle Nguyen
Danielle Nguyenhas quoted4 years ago
Day by day I seem to be sinking more deeply into the gloom that has characterized so much of my time on earth. I know them well, the days when it feels as if you’re stuck ankle-deep in filthy, glutinous sludge and even the slightest movement demands just too much effort. The hours you lie in bed motionless because you’re locked in a cocoon of wretchedness. It’s from that supine position that you survey the world. The sun that rises and shines, as if its light could possibly make any difference.
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The once so inspiring collaboration between the businessman Van Zwanenberg and the scientist Laqueur had apparently degenerated over the years into a bitter fight. By the end, the two men wouldn’t give each other the time of the day. Too many cooks spoil the broth, and after the war Van Zwanenberg cut Laqueur out of the company. That raises the question: How does a man justify to himself betraying the person to whom he owes his success when it becomes convenient? Another question is: Why are successful men often so incredibly careless when it comes to sex? Why are they prepared to risk their entire careers for a brief sexual encounter? Powerful men often grant themselves extraordinary privileges and do not consider non-consensual sex as abuse or rape. They delude themselves into thinking that an ordinary girl should consider it an honour when a powerful man wants to sleep with her, whether willing or not
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Just look at her flaunting her primly clothed chassis, as if that nylon schmatta she’s wearing conceals a bastion of puritan prudery, instead of a sexy bod with pointy, provocative tits no man can avoid staring at, with curves just begging to be stroked, pinched, or sucked, and a pussy hiding under that skirt demanding to be plugged. Those dark eyes with their come-hither look belie the sob story she’s reciting; no doubt she was thoroughly coached by those shyster lawyers. The inviting eyes, the nervous pout, the chewed lip, the tip of the tongue emerging every once in a while to lick the modestly painted mouth, the awkward and rather jerky gestures of the fingers
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Organon was a vigorous participant in the rush to be the first to extract hormones. This was the time of the so-called hormone bubble; in labs all over the world scientists worked hard to isolate hormones and discover which bodily functions they influenced. Experimentation with medical compounds was not yet bound by government regulation, and the ethics of animal and human testing were left to the scientist and his own conscience. The tension between the interests of science and commerce was a crucial part of the equation.
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I wrote Rivka a letter asking for permission to visit her one last time. It would have meant a lot to me, to be allowed to make peace with the woman who for almost twenty years had played such an important role in my life. I received a short scribble in reply:

You will never deserve peace until you learn to control that monstrous schlong of yours. I suggest castration. Rivka.
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Even so, Ezra still had a tendency to go too far, blatantly feeling up an employee, a reporter, or some other tootsie who might not appreciate it; these gals, unlike the ones back in my time, refuse to keep their traps shut about it. Until now his charm had always helped get him out of the tightest spots. People adored him and tended to turn a blind eye when his behaviour crossed the line, behaviour that would have meant ruin for anyone less well-liked.
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“Why don’t you people invent something that will squelch that cursed libido of yours? So that our daughters will be safe? You’re so goddamn brilliant at marketing a pill that prevents pregnancy; you know how to pump men full of testosterone; why, then, can’t you come up with some way to rid yourselves of that vile male lust? That would be doing womankind a service!”
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Work is work, after all—and a great way to drown out unpleasant thoughts.
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Diane had been the light of my life, although I had never had the courage to admit it to her, knowing I’d be roundly mocked if she ever got wind of it. Her refusal to be tied down was far more deeply held than my own vaunted independence. Her aversion to any kind of commitment sometimes made me wonder what deeply ingrained fear might be at the bottom of it. But we never spoke about it. I certainly never asked. I’d had no idea that she was ill. Diane had always been evasive about anything personal, and seemed determined to live only in the here and now.
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I was overcome with almost sickening revulsion as I gazed at the well-to-do, the spoiled princesses and trust-fund babies strutting around this hushed sanctuary of sham glitz and feigned glamour. I was disgusted by the fine airs of the extravagantly dressed, hustling beau monde, pretending to be engrossed in one another but painfully aware of being in a place where they came to see and be seen. They all seemed to be trying to present themselves in the most flattering light, scanning the room like animals on the prowl, intent on not letting any famous quarry get away
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I once blurted out that she was a female version of myself, since we both suffered from the kind of libido that’s so insistent it can’t stand delay; often we’d start tearing our clothes off and fall on each other half-dressed in the most unlikely places.

“Me, a version of you?” she grinned, giving my balls a friendly squeeze. “What a sexist monkey you are, Motke. I’d say, instead, that you are a male version of me . . .” Pulling me by the hair, she pushed me back onto the bed for another round.
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Levine had been the one to come up with the name “soul hormones” for our discoveries after observing time and again that these substances affected not only the patient’s physical condition, but the psychological as well
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Our business was booming; we were forging new partnerships and making acquisitions all around the world. Clinching our success was the most famous product of all, the mother lode of pharmaceuticals: the birth-control pill. The Pill was made from lynestrenol, the most important steroid our firm ever developed. Some other, more tentative brands of the Pill had already come on the market in Belgium and America, but we were the first to mass-produce it on a larger scale. It wasn’t until many months after we’d begun manufacturing it, however, that we discovered how strong its effects could be—that even just handling the stuff was enough to cause distinct physical changes. Slowly, in dribs and drabs, we started hearing from stammering male employees, blushing furiously and hanging their heads, that they seemed to be growing female breasts, and as if that weren’t bad enough, their male parts weren’t working properly either. Shame had kept many of them from coming forward for far too long, aggravating the problem considerably.

Ah yes, the Pill—the hostility it aroused was not just because our men were suddenly turning into ladies. It was the clergy, those pricks, the pastors and priests in this backward and God-fearing region, who were stirring up the workers against a drug that freed women from the fear of pregnancy. But did I ever have the last laugh! We wound up sending the euphemistic “menstruation-regulating drug” to a number of the convents in the area. There the pills were packaged and readied for shipment by the industrious Catholic nuns, in blissful ignorance of the blasphemous nature of the product they were so efficiently handling.
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Some felt honoured to be asked into the luxurious private lair of the legendary Mordechai de Paauw. Others might hesitate, but they usually caved in the end; after all, they had allowed themselves to be shamelessly pampered, and since in the fifties it was assumed that you got nothing for free, if a girl said yes to an expensive dinner, she couldn’t exactly turn down what came next.
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They’re not doing it for the good of the firm; no, there’s no reason other than the needs of the pitiless shareholders, the vultures of the modern age, who don’t care a fig about any company they’re invested in, but are just out to make a quick buck, even if it’s at the expense of an entire business, an entire country, a continent. Farmacom will be fodder for those deadbeats, the slick operators in their expensive Italian suits who’ll put the whole place up for sale in a heartbeat. What do those thieves know about the importance of research, of the interdependence of science and commerce, of the countless sacrifices that were made just so they could fatten their portfolios?
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We seized any opportunity we could get to capitalize on the needs of a convalescent Continent. We added the recently developed insecticide DDT to our industrial output, and it turned out to be a golden goose, for lice were rampant throughout Europe, a downright plague. During the war years those itchy, irritating little parasites had infested the camps with their foul pestilence, attacking the already weakened prisoners with lethal diseases like the dreaded typhoid. Even when the war was over it took years for hygienic conditions to improve. Many concentration camps in the East were still crowded with refugees, the homeless and the displaced. Conditions in those warehouses of human misery remained alarmingly unsanitary.
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I was the royal merchant, an honorary professor at the University of Utrecht, the prince consort’s bosom buddy, an indisputable captain of industry, and a leading light in postwar Holland’s economy. Not bad for a kid who never finished high school.
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Those are questions you tend not to ask yourself as long as you’re whirling through the maelstrom of life. It’s only now that they come to me, here in my metal cage, flashing like lightning bolts through my fevered brain. My mind is on fire, as Abraham’s must have been when he was climbing that mountain with a heavy tread. He must have asked himself why he was being made to commit such an unspeakable act. But when you’re in the thick of it, it doesn’t seem possible to do otherwise. You see only what’s in front of you, like a blinkered horse on a treadmill.
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