“Illness brings ugliness in it’s train”
Umberto Eco-On Ugliness"He was an elemental being, so primitive that he might have spent the twenty-three years of his life immured in a cave."
The Elephant Man and other Reminiscences-Frederick Treeves
Joseph Carey Merrick then -the so called Elephant man- the king of “freaks.”
When we think of him, we envision a shadowed, leprous phantom-like a lurching masked and cloaked sack of hidden pestilence, wandering the hazy cobbled alleyways, or the crowded platforms of the Victorian age.
A sad and noble figure, where the body outside, betrayed the internal virtues of the soul, deceived as he was by the rancorous tumors and putrescent flesh that ravaged his flesh, like some gruesome Ganesh figure.
Here of course I have him unadorned and entirely naked, reveling in the perversion of his decay, a spectacle of deliverance, for a defiled deity.
Reading through Treeve’s manuscript again during these times, speaking of Merrick as a man whose existence had been so beleaguered, and yet had “passed through the fire” and emerged “ennobled…free from any trace of cynicism,resentment,or grievance” feels like no less than a savage indictment when compared to the daily morning dreadlines, that catalogue whining, privileged,entitlement from those who would claim to hold the edge on piety.
In an era of malediction and malady, where the ugliness stems from within,it is the internal body then, that betrays the external one.