21 July 2009

Mental metastasis

This blog -- ramblings around being and beings -- is a web or mirror which sometimes catches something useful for a book with the same title. Writing the book is often a struggle. Every now and then the process becomes almost feverish, seeming to feed on itself.

A few days ago I happened across a photograph of Joseph Merrick (below), who suffered from Proteus syndrome. I hadn't seen this picture in years and it was almost as if I was looking at it for the first time. One of the striking things about it, I think, is the clear gaze from his left eye (right hand side of the image, obviously), set in small patch of 'normal' temple and cheek. You glimpse a 'normal' man, fully conscious, and dignified, behind the monstrous mask of deformity.

Merrick is due respect and remembrance as a human being. At the same time, the images of his skull (below: photograph front view, CAT scan side view) look to me like metaphors for some of the mental deformations (and masques) that individuals and societies sometimes undergo.

No comments: