Blog Post 3: Responding to My Body & a Wunderkammer

Excerpt taken from: http://collection.eliterature.org/1/works/jackson__my_body_a_wunderkammer/neck.html

“When I strain in a certain way a tendon in my neck pops across something, another tendon or a bone spur perhaps, and snaps back into place. When this happens, the right half of my tongue goes numb for a few seconds.

In my earliest drawings, there are no necks. Then there are necks, but they are too skinny; the phrase ñswan-like neck” had entered my consciousness and done a violence to my ideas about the body. I have coveys of princesses with necks no wider than their chins. It took a book to correct my eye and point out that the neck is a sturdy extension of the trunk, bigger around than most people’s arms, not a spindly perch for the head.

The next entry of the neck in my file of images is from a soft-porn science fiction novel in which enslaved lovelies writhe at a despot’s feet. Entranced, I sculpted a little figure out of something described as modelling wood (I think it was no more than sawdust; you added water to make putty, then let it dry); her head was thrown back, her hands were shackled behind her back. I kept it for years on a high shelf where I supposed it would escape notice and took it down from time to time to look at it. Now sometimes I put on a thick leather collar, smooth and heavy, and that little figurine pops up at the back of my mind.”

So, navigating through this online text has proven to be very confusing to me, as I have never witnessed a text in this form before. As I began to delve into the text, I am beginning to understand how complex and interesting a work of electronic literature can be. 

When zooming in on this section of the text having to do with the neck, I find some very pointed messages hidden within the text. It is interesting that the author begins describing the neck as having “done a violence to [her] ideas about the body” as in many people the neck holds the most amount of tension in a person. The neck is often a carry of stress and tension, and it is clear that Shelley Jackson seems to note of this. 

It also appears that the text is providing commentary on gender expectations about “princesses with neck no wider than their chins” or just about women in general who believe that they need to be skinny in order to fit in with society. It is evident that Jackson detests this notion of a “skinny” neck as her dictates for necks to not be included in her “earliest drawings.”  As I examine her description of the next time that a neck appeared in one of her pieces of art, it appears that the next becomes the central defining image of the piece of art, almost holding the entire thing together. This gets me to question whether or not Jackson really does detest the neck? Or does she recognize the body feature as an extension of stability for the body? I don’t believe the answer is outlined in this short passage, but I believe it was written to invoke this questions.

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