Tabbed spelunking in the series of anatomical tubes

Dem links, dem links, dem hyperlinks.
Dem links, dem links, dem hyperlinks.
Dem links, dem links, dem hyperlinks.
Jackson’s body we’ll now explore.

Toe page connected to the foot page
Foot page connected to the leg page
Leg page connected to the….dafuq?

Jackson’s ‘My Body & a Wunderkammer’ paradoxically is a story that takes place entirely within the narrator’s mind, but dwells entirely on the narrator’s physical body. When I started the…the thingamajig I resolved to read it through methodically from top to bottom, determined to miss nothing and assemble the thingamajig’s schema in a complete and logical manner. *pauses for laughter*

The actual result was akin to trying to 100% complete a Bioware game. I wandered aimlessly through a tangled mess of overlapping, branching  paths with no discernible logical sequence other than Jackson’s holistic uncomfortably detailed whimsy. Yet every link in the chain made sense at the moment it was clicked, creating a layered tapestry that coupled body parts with their associated actions and life events–and most importantly, the motivations and thoughts behind those memories. It was as though by reading the thingamajig I was reconstructing Jackson’s identity both forensically and psychologically, giving me insight into her cognitive habits: the memories she dwelt on repeatedly and the anatomical curiosities she introspected on regularly, occasionally embarking on nearly invisible tangents regarding of teeth or eyebrows and then muggily trying to navigate back to the main thingamajig.

A particularly potent moment for me was reading cabinet. “You read page two of a letter; one and three are missing, and you leave off in the middle of a sentence” perfectly captured my experience of the thingamajig. I had myself in crisscrossing her body (creeeeepy) in purple hyperlinks, left behind and lost track of unfinished pages, chased dead ends that led me right back where I started. Jackson described the digital homunculi of her Wunderkammer life: “a replica of [my thoughts]: a huge wooden chest in the shape of my body, with innumerable drawers in which I will store my findings.” But while revealing the most intimate secrets of her being, Jackson lied.

After a a bewildered re-reading of tail I realized that by Jove I’d been had! This thingamajig was not an autobiography but a work of fiction. The narration constituted a character, not a replica of a real person. Yet by now I had accumulated a disturbingly complete knowledge of that fictional body, had assumed corporeality from the representation of text. It raised old Descartian questions about reality and brought to mind the future of digital identities just as real and complete as physical meatbags. also: mutant lesbians.


~ by Freddie on February 3, 2013.

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