I Also Don’t Get This

BenthamI am always surprised by the number of comments I get in response to certain posts.  I’ve written a number of lengthy posts which are hopefully thought provoking, but they typically don’t garner the same level of interest in terms of comments.  It’s the short goofy posts that tend to attract the most comments.  I guess that says it all in terms of the amount of time that people spend on individual blogs or about the length of the average attention span.  The last post on Little Sorrel attracted a number of comments that spanned the spectrum of humor and disgust.  I came across the story on one of my feeds and thought it funny that we have an urge to preserve the hide of Jackson’s Little Sorrell.  I find it curious – nothing more nothing less. 

Just in case some of you think I am simply using this as another opportunity to poke at our fascination with all things Confederate consider the case of the British philosopher Jeremy Bentham.  From Wikipedia:

As requested in his will his body was preserved and stored in a wooden cabinet, termed his "Auto-icon". Originally kept by his disciple Dr. Southwood Smith, it was acquired by University College London in 1850. The Auto-Icon is kept on public display at the end of the South Cloisters in the main building of the College. For the 100th and 150th anniversaries of the college, the Auto-Icon was brought to the meeting of the College Council, where he was listed as "present but not voting". Tradition holds that if the council’s vote on any motion is tied, the auto-icon always breaks the tie by voting in favor of the motion.

The Auto-Icon has always had a wax head, as Bentham’s head was badly damaged in the preservation process. The real head was displayed in the same case for many years, but became the target of repeated student pranks including being stolen on more than one occasion. It is now locked away securely.  [Note: You can see Bentham’s head between his feet in the picture.  I also find this odd.]

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2 comments… add one

  • matthew mckeon Oct 16, 2007

    Jesus Christ, Kevin, enough with the dead stuffed things! OK maybe one more.

  • Rebecca Oct 24, 2007

    Heh heh. I am an alumna of UCL and I got a fundraising circular trying to raise money to preserve ol’ Jeremy.

    His head was damaged severely when King’s College stole it and played a game of football with it. In retaliation UCL attacked giant purple testicles to the KC lion statues.

    Just giving you some context.

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