Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Pathological Sublime

via M Derry @ Boing Boing

Fascinating article by Mark Derry on the sublime and the collection of medical paintings by Dr. Peter Parker, the first American surgeon to practice in China. He asks, "When do we avert our eyes in horror, and when do we reserve the right to stare, in a world where any morning's forwarded e-mail can bring us face-to-face with terrorist trailers for real-life beheadings or worse, images that once seen will replay themselves forever in the multiplex of the mind, scarring us in ways we don't yet understand? Where does aesthetics end and ethics begin? What are the long-term effects, in individual as well as societal terms, of gawking at the atrocity exhibition?"

"Peter Parker's pickled paintings
Cause of nausea, chills & faintings;
Peter Parker's putrid portraits,
Cause of ladies' loosened corsets;
Peter Parker's purple patients,
Causing some to upchuck rations.
Peter Parker's priceless pictures:
Goiters, fractures, strains and strictures.
Peter Parker's pics prepare you
For the ills that flesh is heir to."

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