Thursday, November 27, 2008

Elephant Men

Its not very often that I read something that sends me into a bit of a rage. But anyway, this week I did. I will not link to the piece, since I feel that I will in someway, perpetuate the notoriety of the author and possibly contribute to the misery of his victims.

In a nutshell, the article viciously mocks the love of two unattractive people for each other. Furthermore, the author viciously mocks the unattractive for being so. It would have to be one of the most cruel and vicious pieces of writing I have ever read.

Normal human beings have a need to be loved. Even the vilest and most disfigured individual still seeks love. What gives The Elephant Man it's tragic pathos, is that locked underneath that hideous deformity, is an individual who feels and desires to be loved. As Joseph Merrick's friend, Sir Fredrick Treaves said:

...... Merrick always wanted, even after living at the hospital, to go to a hospital for the blind where he might find a woman who would not be repelled by his appearance.

Indeed, the characters in the movie, and in real life, who befriend and and saw the individual beneath the hideous visage, are ennobled by their actions. Likewise, those who exploit the individual for their advantage are seen as the corrupt demons that they are, tormenting the unfortunate for profit and compounding their misery.

But our author does "better".

Not only does he mock their unattractiveness, he mocks the love that they have for each other. He besmirches the little bit of joy they have in each other. He takes from the poor what little they have.

This author is not a sentimentalist. Beauty is to be preferred to ugliness, but to despise the unattractive for being so, is vile, especially if genetic misfortune is their lot. Nature is cruel. Good men are not. Loneliness is a curse, the unloved suffer, and though we may not be moved to erotically love the unattractive, we should not add to their pain or take what joy they have. Their little joys are worth far more to them than to the undeserving fortunate, who by the Grace of God, do not suffer as they do. As one commentator said, we're all a step away from a disfiguring illness.

The final word should go to Joseph Merrick.

"Tis true my form is something odd,
But blaming me is blaming God.
Could I create myself anew,
I would not fail in pleasing you.

If I could reach from pole to pole,
Or grasp the ocean with a span,
I would be measured by the soul,
The mind's the standard of the man."