A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Creepy Newborn

My daughter never liked dolls or clowns. She had quite a few beautiful ones, the kind that are too fancy to play with, and too expensive to give away. At one point, she had them lined up on a high shelf in her closet, facing the wall. She was too afraid of them to destroy them, but didn't want to look at them, either. At one point when she was older and an art student, she lay them on the grass and photographed them through filters of Saran Wrap for maximum distortion. That's the way she really saw them.

A booth I visited at a recent craft festival reminded me of those days. A couple of artisans were displaying their "Angel Babies," one of which is being held here by a photogenic young festival-goer. It's a "reborn" doll, an ordinary factory-made doll painstakingly customized with special body parts and paint. The hair and eyelashes are individually rooted human hair or mohair. The doll is stuffed and weighted with pellets and fiberfill to feel just like a real baby. Some reborns even have battery-operated beating "hearts" and expanding and contracting "lungs." Pretty creepy.

According to the artisan, these dolls are great for people with Alzheimer's. They become much less agitated when given "babies" to hold. Handouts in the booth explained the results of a study done in the U.K. supporting this discovery.

The young woman posing with the newborn "reborn" giggled with her friends for a moment over the lifelike nature of her "baby." But soon she began mischievously shaking it. I'm telling you, dolls are evil. Granted, sometimes they're therapeutic. But sometimes they can bring out the worst in people.

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