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Theory | Art | Testimonies | Articles

The articles in this section discuss the depiction of people with impairments in painting, film, and literature, and related matters.

A Vicarious Wannabe
by J.

A short biographical memoir of the silent-film star Lon Chaney with reference to his predilection for roles in which he played catastrophically deformed people, as in The phantom of the Opera, and in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and similar films, or multiple amputees, as in The unknown (bilateral arm amputee) or The penalty (bilateral leg amputee). Also, inevitably, he played Long John Silver.

by J.

This is a discussion of the fascination of ambiguous and paradoxical figures. Among other issues it considers the fascination of fictional figures such as The million-dollar-man, a person fused with machinery, and Schwarzenegger in The Terminator, as a machine covered with the physical appearance of a person, and compares this with the fascination of certain devotees with people needing hardware such as artificial limbs and callipers, and with the hardware itself.

An Interview With Caroline Ashbee
by J.

Caroline Ashbee discusses the motives and ideas that led her to write erotic fiction, especially fiction for devotees. Caroline's Storybook is available online here

An Interview With Gerhard Aba
by Paul

Gerhard Aba is a 47-year-old Viennese professional photographer who's focusing his work on women who are amputees, which is a first, to our knowledge. His work can be seen on the Metamorphosis Gallery and on his recently open website "Photo Museum". He accepted to be interviewed.

Enthralling Nightmares: Two Novels By J. G. Ballard
by J.

This almost incomprehensible article discusses the novels The atrocity exhibition and Crash, masterpieces of fiction concerned with sex, mutilation, death, and car crashes.

Freaks, Fiends And filmstars
by J.

Thoughts about the film Freaks in the context of the Universal Cycle of Horror Films and about the nature of the filmstar, sexual releasers, and sexual ambiguity.

London Life: 1920 - 1950

This is an account of the history of a popular, slightly sleazy magazine that continued for about 30 years to publish romantic fiction featuring heroines who were amputees. The London Life letters and short stories are now available online here.

Taking The Lid Off Helena
by J.

This describes some of the events surrounding the making of Boxing Helena, a film, directed by Jennifer Chambers Lynch, concerning a surgeon who amputates all the limbs of a woman who obsesses him. The film is reviewed and compared with The elephant man directed by Jennifer Lynch's father David.

The Incisive Eye Of Don Luis Bu˝uel
by J.

This discusses devoteeism in his films, a long discussion of Tristana, a film starring Catherine Deneuve and Fernando Rey, about a young defenceless woman who is abused by her uncle, leaves him for a younger lover, who, after her leg has been amputated abandons her, forcing her to return to her uncle, whom she marries and ultimately destroys.

The OverGround Catalogue

This is a catalogue of books that deal, sometimes obliquely or peripherally, with characters who have physical impairments. The version published here is a conflation of four parts published in various numbers of OverGround.

Truthful Fictions: Four Short Stories And Two Novels On Themes Of Disability
by J.

An exploration of the treatment of physical impairment in fiction.

Unexpected Beauty
by J.

This article discusses the aesthetics of incompleteness and physical deformity, from the appreciation of Greek statuary, through renaissance painting, to the present day. It also discusses the mutilation and deliberate deformation of the body, foot-binding, tight-lacing, and skull-distortion, for social and erotic reasons, and relates preferences for people with extremely developed secondary sexual characteristics to devoteeism.

Wannabes On Television

This describes and criticises a program on BBC television that compared the experiences of George Boyer who arranged for one of his legs to be amputated by shooting it with a shotgun, and those of P. (not Paul the present editor of OverGround) who is seeking to persuade a surgeon to amputate his left leg.

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