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On the Development of the Marmite Theory of Migratory Evolution

By JC Mitchell, Doctor of Marmitology

Origin of Theory Further Correspondence Method of Introduction Links

(as illustrated through e-mail)
I was first introduced to Marmite -- a nutritious byproduct of the brewing process -- in February 1998. It wasn't until June 1999, when I began to spend a great deal of time in England, that it became a regular staple in my diet. I fully explored the gastronomic possibilities of Marmite, spreading the dark gooey yeasty substance on my crumpets for breakfast and occasionally in a sandwich with mature cheddar or almond butter. It wasn't until my Chicago friend Dogandi obtained funding and resources to launch the Lost Years Haiku Project that I delved into the creative aspects of Marmite.

Breakfast in Kent
To: Dogandi (Chicago, IL, USA)
From: JC (Sheffield, UK)
Date: 24 May 2002

Here is my first British contribution to the Lost Years Haiku Project:

Sunrise breaks the clouds.
One thought tempts me from my sleep:
Marmite on my toast.

When I returned to California in September of 2002 to spend a few months at the suburban home of my elderly mother, I thought little about the potential consequences of one small item in her cluttered and disorderly kitchen:

To: Drewline (Sheffield, UK)
From: JC (Long Beach, CA, USA)
Date: 27 Sept 2002

I just finished breakfast: onion bagel with cream cheese, almond butter, and a bit of the Marmite my mother thought she must have purchased just before I arrived but which I suspect may be the mysteriously disappearing jar I left here three years ago. It still smells and tastes good, and I haven't died from eating it...
In a month's time I had come to understand the significance of that one item:

To: Mistah Rick (Oakland, CA, USA) and Drewline (Sheffield, UK)
From: JC (Long Beach, CA, USA)
Date: 22 Oct 2002

I have come to the realisation that the pen migration trend which has followed me throughout my life is genetic. My mother is constantly losing pens -- not just her own but mine as well.

There is a certain offshoot of Darwinism at work in my mother's house which can be demonstrated by the following phenomenon: No item, when moved from its current position of gravitational rest, will ever be returned to the same position or at least within 3m (9.84 ft) of said position, unless enclosed in a refrigerator, in which case the distance will be no less than 38cm (14.82 in), and never on the same shelf. This law applies to all pens and writing implements, pairs of scissors, remote controls, key sections of the newspaper, cartons of coffee cream, pots of yogurt, jars of nut butter, telephone directories, sharp knives, cordless telephones, and reading glasses. The physical nature of certain items causes them to cycle through these changes in global positioning so rapidly that they quickly vanish from present time and space, destined to reappear in 3-dimensional reality at some point in the distant future. These items include shopping lists, flat-head screwdrivers, 2-for-1 restaurant coupons, and JC's glass of water.

So that the entire contents of the house are prevented from becoming a churning cauldron of omnidirectional chaos there are 5 constants which are destined to return to the same place no matter how often and how far they are moved: the dog bowl, the iBook, JC's purse, JC's slippers, and the jar of Marmite on the kitchen counter.

Consequently I shall refer to this as the Marmite Theory of Migratory Evolution.

Fortunately the physical entity known as JC is not directly affected by any of these forces -- although if you suddenly don't hear from me for a week or so I'd check my mother's fridge, perhaps in the produce drawer lodged between the month-old head of iceberg lettuce and the cordless phone.

(Update: approximately 5 seconds ago my mother came in and said, "I've lost the Press-Telegram! I know I brought it in this morning..." Proof that this new theory is constantly being tested in our dedicated laboratory.)
To: JC (Long Beach, CA, USA)
From: Mistah Rick (Oakland, CA, USA)
Date: 26 Oct 2002

Whereas most people are limited to three dimensions, I think it is true that certain classes of inanimate objects exist in n-space and are free to drift in and out of the range of our perception. This includes individual items of food (although it would be extraordinary for an entire meal to disappear), utensils, one's spectacles, of course, important documents, socks (particularly vulnerable just before, during and after the time of laundering), and, I suppose, jewelry and clothing accessories.

When we are infants the things in our visual universe and within our limited reach are in a constant state of flux. It's as if the toys themselves "know" that they can take a brief respite in other dimensions without arousing the suspicion of the beholder. As we mature, things tend to become more stable. To some extent this is merely delusion on our part that objects remain where we left them; but it is also true that our minds at their youthful peak actually exert power over perceived objects, forcing them to remain rooted in 3D.

As we age, however, and as the perceptual waves projected from our brain become less distinct, certain objects regain the power to break loose, usually when we need them most. The effect may be diminished by people living together whose minds tend to act in concert. On the other hand, two people in the same household whose minds are out of sync may encourage all sorts of objects to break loose.

I was motivated to ponder this subject all day today, because somehow during my sleep I lost my undershorts. I had gotten up during the night, as usual, to feed my cat Ariel, then went to the bathroom to urinate sitting down in the dark. (Avoiding the lights, I have learned, facilitates falling back to sleep quickly.) I must still have had my shorts at that time (else I would have noticed I was naked), but sometime after that point they disappeared, and I couldn't find them (a particularly colorful pair of Pocos) anywhere.

You didn't find them in your fridge by chance? Maybe I should look in mine.

To: Mistah Rick (Oakland, CA, USA)
From: JC (Long Beach, CA, USA)
Date: 29 Oct 2002

This explains what happens to a Chinese meal. Approximately 30 minutes after consumption, various popular Cantonese, Mandarin, and Szechuan dishes tend to drift out of the perceptive range of the digestive track, only to re-enter 3-dimensional space at some other time and place, often producing those inexplicable loud belches heard in late-afternoon office cubicle areas. Meanwhile the Chinese meal consumers have drifted off to late-night takeaways to allay their reputed hunger with Happy Meals.

Your observations on toys taking a brief respite in other dimensions is further supported by the Ball of Superstring Theory.

So does all this explain why, as soon as I left the Sheffield house I share with Drewline and a mobile phone and moved 5000 miles away, suddenly the mobile phone disappeared? Has it possibly been attempting to text me from the sixth dimension? Does it need to dial 001 first? Perhaps I should reconfigure my e-mail handler...

As to your boxers, I just went and checked, and I found nothing unusual in the fridge except for five large pots of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, a cat toy, and a bed pillow. But earlier, when I went out to retrieve the newspaper off the walkway, I saw a very colourful pair of boxers hanging from the side-view mirror of a truck that was backing slowly down the street.
To: Drewline (Sheffield, UK)
From: JC (Long Beach, CA, USA)
Date: 31 Oct 2002

I've lost part of my iBook: the plastic cap that protects the end of the power cord when it's not plugged into the iBook -- the cap you need to use on the end of the power cord in order to transport it. I just can't believe something important like that would disappear. It's Halloween night and things keep disappearing. This house is in complete chaos. The plastic cap is probably wherever the mobile phone is -- and wherever Mistah Rick's shorts are.

They're probably both underneath one of those rotting heads of iceberg lettuce in the bottom of my mom's fridge.
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