Speaking Even More of Maria Blanchard

from wordgathering.com
Diane Kendig
A review of 26, Rue Du Départ, Érase Una Vez en París (1)

This new hour-long Spanish documentary by Gloria Crespo on the Spanish painter, Maria Blanchard, is a typical talking-heads treatment of the artist’s life and times, but such heads as are talking here! Spain’s top art critics, curators, feminists, and writers, as well as Blanchard’s relatives, friends, and relatives of friends converse alongside footage of Paris in the early 1900s and images of Blanchard’s work. All of them are hoping to rescue this artist’s reputation from near-oblivion and place her in the pantheon of her contemporaries such as Picasso (who came and walked in her funeral) and Diego Rivera (with whom she once shared a studio.)

The film argues that both her gender and her disability worked against her reputation, or even, we might say, were used against her in her own time and the decades following. Her curator at the Queen Sofia Museum in Madrid, María José Salazar, gives one shocking example of the unfairness Blanchard’s work experienced: her name was erased from one of her canvases and replaced with that of Juan Gris, her friend but not the author of the work. Diego Rivera’s daughter goes on at length (and not with all that much sensitivity) about how Rivera would not become lovers with Blanchard because of her physical deformity, while Salazar discusses with great sensitivity how painful that relationship was for Blanchard. As the poet Lorca noted for himself, the fact that “She’s a hunchback, you know” was usually one of the first things anyone said about Blanchard.

But few have traced how her disability figures in her life and work until now. The movie does a great job of setting the record straight on both accounts. One of the myths about Blanchard is that her disability was caused by her mother’s fall from a horse during pregnancy. Among the cast of talking heads is the head of Dr. José Ramón Rodriguez Altonaga who appears seated among x-rays of many spines and begins, “No es la verdad…” ( “It’s not the truth…”) these stories about the cause of her disability. These things may be caused by a variety of factors, he says: “It may be congenital, it may be genetic, but no one is to blame.”

I felt both edified and chagrined to hear this—chagrined because I myself had passed along that myth in one of my own poems and in an essay (2). I excuse myself on the basis that when I began to write about Blanchard in 1986, there were no images of her or her work available to me, and only two essays in English. One was by the poet Federico Garcia Lorca (3), who was friends with Maria’s best friend Concha Espina, and I never thought to question it. And yet a friend of mine, Maria Bonnett, a nurse by profession and art lover by avocation, sniffed the lie out early, writing to me, “I am curious about her disabilities…[concerning the fall during pregnancy] I suspect that wasn’t her true diagnosis. Fetal injuries are rare in cases of falls…Her deformity appears to be more suggestive of osteogenesis imperfect, or brittle bone disease. Not much was known about this disorder in the early 1900s. At that time, most congenital malformations were blamed on…the mother. I hope more research will lead to the discovery of her illness.”

The cultured might say, “Well what difference does it make? The art is what is important,” but Bonnett answers that for me too, “Maria’s illness must have caused her great pain…struggl[ing] daily to do the most routine tasks that able-bodied people take for granted. Her painting, Boy with Ice Cream says it all. I look at the boy—happy, carefree, munching on his treat. I see the little girl behind the cart, reaching with great effort to get some of the sweetness of life. A crutch is on the floor in the foreground. How telling!”

This painting and many others certainly are “telling,” or, as we like to say in the field of creative writing, “showing.” Especially her later paintings—women and children, the girl with the toothache, this boy with his ice cream cone, have a lot to tell us. In addition, Maria’s earlier, cubist paintings have a lot to teach us about that movement, about Maria’s talent, about that time and place and women’s time and place. Among those works, her painting Woman with a Fan is among my favorites.

Currently, the film is only available in Spain, but I think Americans in general and certainly Wordgathering readers would find it moving and instructive. I have noticed that a person posting on the Discussion Board of the Temple University Disability Studies program board has noted that the effect of Blanchard’s kyphosis on her work might be a rich area for disability studies. When I asked Crespo about the possibility of bringing the documentary here, she said that the investment of time and money for subtitling, copyright and other issues and tasks seem daunting to her right now as she is trying to finish the book.

Having written on Frida Kahlo for years, too, I find both her and Blanchard fascinating and admirable in the excellence they were able to achieve in their chosen endeavor despite debilitating pain and disability. However, the more I come to know about Blanchard, the more I admire how she went it alone and insisted on being the equal “not the helper of but on the same plane as” the male artists around her, as one of the critics notes of her relationship with Gris. Her stubbornness may have cost her some fame in her own time. (For example, in the depths of her penury, she once bought back her painting, Two Sisters, from a collector because she felt the collector could not appreciate what it meant to her, sister of two sisters that she was.) I am hoping that her stubborn insistence on color, quality, meaning, and effort in art are what we can use today to promote her legacy in our time and someday soon, in our country as well as her homeland.


(1)The film is subtitled [translation mine}, A documentary about the life and work of Maria Blanchard. It is written, directed, and produced by Gloria Crespo MacLellan.
(2)Most embarrassingly, in this journal, Wordgathering, issue 15.
(3)”Elegy to Maria Blanchard,” in Deep Song and Other Prose by Federico Garcia Lorca. Edited and Translated by Christopher Maurer (NY: New Directions, 1980.)

Diane Kendig’s fourth and most recent chapbook is titled, The Places We Find Ourselves. Her work may also be found in J Journal, Minnesota Review, qarrtsiluni, and others. A recipient of two Ohio Arts Council Fellowships in Poetry and a Fulbright lectureship in translation, Kendig has left the Boston area to return in her hometown of Canton, Ohio, which she blogs about at “Coming Home”.

A Paralyzing Fear: The Story of Polio in America

More than just a history of the frantic search for a polio vaccine, A Paralyzing Fear also explores the fear of disability that drove it. Even after the causes of polio were understood, small outbreaks could mean the ostracisim of entire families and neighborhoods, or snowball into panics like the mass exodus from New York City. The ominous television ads promoting fear of “the Crippler”, a shadowy scythe-bearing personification of the virus, were the most effective in raising money for research. (Later, when polio was nearly beaten and fear abated, research organizations like the March of Dimes had to take out multimillion dollar loans to finish their work.)

The fears of the polio patients themselves are also explored, from the black children who were given inadequate care and thus suffered more, to the white males who were never taught that they could still live full lives with a disability, to the iron lung-using woman who tearfully recalls being threatened by a nurse as a little girl that her ventilator would be turned off if she didn’t stop crying.

Once the vaccine was found and the unaffected could relax again, donations to find a cure or maintain the (previously free) care that people with polio received never materialized. As the most famous person with polio once said, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

Source Code

Source Code has nothing to do with programming; instead it starts as a time travel thriller and morphs into a tale of parallel universes and messages from beyond. Dr. Rutledge is the crippled, mumbling inventor of a device he calls the Source Code, a machine that peers into the thoughts of dying brains and constructs a virtual reality simulation of their last moments. To prove its efficacy, his team acquires the not-quite-dead body of a soldier named Colter Stevens who has been blown to pieces in Afghanistan, wipes his memory, and wires his consciousness into the simulation of the last eight minutes of a commuter train soon to be bombed.

Dr. Rutledge avoiding eye contact again.

The idea of amputees and paralyzed people being given new life by having their consciousness transferred into a simulation or avatar body is an increasingly common trope as our technological sophistication increases, but as Stevens tries to point out to Dr. Rutledge, he has not obtained consent from anybody in this scenario, nor have they taken into account the trauma of, well, being blown up repeatedly. Rutledge snaps “You know, many soldiers would find this preferable to death. The opportunity to continue serving their country.” (We suppose Stevens is insufficiently grateful for his perpetual enslavement to the military industrial complex.) In this way Rutledge portrays the stereotype of the evil genius cripple, so out of touch with the feelings of others that their twistedness must be physically manifest; his disability serves no other purpose to the plot whatsoever. (In short, the writers are using a crutch as a crutch.) One would be tempted to make an armchair diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome, except Aspies tend to have a higher moral sense than Rutledge displays.

Wheel Chair

“Wheel Chair” is a 1995 Bollywood movie, minus much of the singing and dancing, available on Netflix in the Bengali language with English subtitles. Susmita, a typist, is working late one night when three men attack her in the stairwell with the intent to rape her, causing her to fall and break her neck. Someone calls an ambulance, and the doctors at the hospital she’s taken to decline to do surgery (presumably to stabilize her neck) for fear of affecting the “Vegas” nerve. (Surely they mean vagus. One would hope that a doctor has a good grasp of geography; after all, they’d better know how to locate the islets of Langerhaans.)

Susmita’s head is put into a primitive Hannibal Lechter-type headgear that doesn’t look terribly stable, ostensibly to provide traction. The company Susmita worked for takes responsibility for paying for her care and rehabilitation, and she is brought into the care of Dr. Mitra, who runs a home for “neurological disabilities” and is also a paraplegic himself.

Dr. Mitra

Dr. Mitra agrees to take Susmita as a patient

Dr. Mitra acquired his disability in a car accident in England on his way to a neurology conference, and “somehow found his way” back to India. (It is fortunate that he became a neurologist before becoming disabled, as people with disabilities who want to enter the medical profession often face obstacles and prejudice from medical schools.) The small clinic/home he founded in Calcutta has lost its funding from the government, and the board of directors wants to sell the land to put up a nursing home. Dr. Mitra must balance his time between treating patients, fighting with his own board of directors, and cajoling money from businessmen to keep the home running and the patients fed. He is portrayed as being a professional inspiration to his patients, yet privately he drinks, relies on the assistance of the able-bodied staff for tasks a paraplegic can usually do by themselves, and occasionally wishes out loud for death just as his patients constantly do.

Susmita is wheeled in on a gurney through the men’s ward, where she is frightened by the ogling of the male residents. They are introduced as Nantu, a young man who has been disabled from birth (probably from cerebral palsy, although he’s being treated with Vitamin B):


Nantu sees Amin is making Susmita nervous and shoos him away

Mr. Shatadal, a belligerent older man on crutches who fantasizes about dying and being taken away by a white camel with a golden saddle blanket:

Mr. Shatadal

Mr. Shatadal eyes the new arrival, one of the few female residents

and Amin, a tall, withdrawn, intimidating man who was an astrophysicist before he had a nervous breakdown.


Amin stares openly at Susmita, blocking the path of her gurney

The handsome physical therapist Santu sets to work on the depressed Susmita, who agrees to work at therapy only to regain use of her hands and arms to kill herself. He stretches her limbs and painfully puts her face-down in a hammock when a bedsore begins. One night, against the orders of Dr. Mitra, Santu engages in what he calls “shock therapy”; he slides his hand up Susmita’s thigh under her clothing in order to deliberately remind her of the rape. In a panic, she moves a toe. This is hailed as a breakthrough instead of a violation of professional boundaries, and it fulfills the Disability Movie Cliche and ludicrous ableist conceit that disabled people can be cured by attention from the opposite sex.

The most realistic aspect of the movie Wheel Chair is the agonizingly slow pace of recovery for each resident. By the time Susmita is ready to return home two years after arrival, Nantu has progressed from learning his letters to slow reading (though everyone discourages him from hope of ever having a wife). Amin has displayed anger over conditions in the home, pushing Dr. Mitra over and then returning him to his wheelchair, and later writing an inscrutable equation on a slate. Mr. Shatadal reveals himself to be a self-made man from selling nuts and bolts to the American army at a huge markup, writes a large check to the home, and then suddenly goes blind and dies within minutes.

After Susmita returns to her mother’s home to begin a prescribed regimen of physical therapy and slow hunt-and-peck typing, Santu asks Dr. Mitra of the advisability of marrying her. Dr. Mitra assures him that she will be able to bear children, so Santu declares to Sumitra’s mother that he wants to “take on full responsibility” for her. Susmita is in tears at this… charming proposal, but though she ascribes to the common belief one must be able-bodied to be married she eventually acquiesces, saying that she’ll put down the returning strength of her upper body as capital and work for the rest. Santu and Susmita settle down into a house on a river, where Santu is last seen happily carrying Susmita to a wheelchair on a patio.


Almost a parody of Edwardian romance novels, Angel is based on a novel of the same name. Our heroine Angel is a young woman whose only disability is a tendency to delude herself, but it serves her well; she quickly becomes a famous novelist with her talent for overblown romantic prose, acquires a mansion named Paradise, and a handsome yet moody artist husband Esme.

The first hint of reality intrudes when Esme returns home from the war sans one limb. Oblivious as ever to his inner turmoil, Angel assures him, “You’ve lost your leg, but it’s not like you’re dead. I’ll buy you a wheelchair and you can go wherever you like.”

With her soldier husband returns as an amputee, Angel plans to buy him a wheelchair.

Though Angel is now reluctant to make love to Esme, when Esme confesses to being in debt, Angel vows to write another book to pay off his creditors. She’s just about done when Esme comes home stinking drunk one night and attempts to rape her, saying in an almost cartoonishly evil way that he’d like to give her a baby… “with one little leg!” Her cries for help are heard by his sister, who barges into their room and drives him off with his own crutch.

Nora attacks a very drunk Esme with his crutch, defending Angel

Esme leaves, but by the next day Angel is already asking for him. He’s busy spying on his erstwhile mistress, though, and sees she’s found a replacement for him. He returns to Paradise to an enthusiastic welcome from Angel, who is eager to show him the wheelchair that just arrived.

Nora wheels in the wheelchair Angel bought for Esme

Esme and his sister look crestfallen, and the next morning Esme is found hanging from the ceiling in his studio. Angel copes with being a widow quite well, telling herself and a reporter that Esme was happy and died of a heart attack. But the discovery of a letter from his mistress sends her sinking into a depression of her own… collecting several cats along the way.

Samson and Delilah

Samson & Delilah is set in a remote Aboriginal Community, with the Aboriginal Delilah playing a much more realistic and sympathetic role than her namesake in the Bible.

Early in the film, it is shown that an unowned wheelchair is left outdoors, where it serves as an amusing ride for the village urchins, the largest and least promising of whom is age-indeterminate surfer-dude-looking Samson. Samson intimidates a smaller boy into turning over the wheelchair to him, and promptly uses it to play in. He sits outside of the Aboriginal community’s only grocery store in it, begging for handouts; no one is fooled.

Samson is old enough to have sprouted a small mustache and to occasionally amuse himself by playing guitar with some older guys who hang out near the general store. If he has parents, grandparents, or other relations, they don’t seem to be around or overly concerned with his slovenliness and lack of ambition. When he is at his disheveled, dusty home, he huffs glue and/or other inhalants; in one scene where he does some grafitti, he is shown giving a long sniff to the point of the permanent felt-tip pen.

Delilah, by contrast, lives a life of responsibility: she is the primary, if not sole, and most likely unpaid, caregiver for her grandmother Kitty, who is physically disabled and/or frail. Whatever Kitty has is not specified, but Delilah argues with her every morning to take her pills, and is frequently seen pushing her in a standard manual wheelchair (the health care system of that time and place most likely handed out one standard model of wheelchair, regardless of how inappropriate it was to the dusty terrain or their clients’ needs).

Delilah is shown to regularly take Kitty to a spartan corrugated metal chapel containing little more than a large cross, and to appointments at a clinic, at which no wheelchair ramp is seen. Someone (probably Delilah and/or clinic personnel) most likely has to haul Kitty in bodily, separately from her wheelchair. Though Kitty evidently does get to her clinic appointments, the movie does not make it clear exactly how this is accomplished.

The clinic from Samson and Delilah

Kitty and Delilah make a meager living by selling Kitty’s Aboriginal paintings to a white man who picks them up from them and takes them into town for galler(ies) to sell (at a large markup, Delilah would later discover).

One day while they are out in the yard, Kitty sees Samson just outside their property, and asks who he is. When Delilah tells her, Kitty says they should get married, though Delilah had evidenced no prior romantic interest in Samson (perhaps because she knows Samson as an idler with no visible means of support).

The grandmother’s idea is influenced by the fact that they are the “same skin”. As Americans watching this, the first thought was that like some of our mixed-blood blacks and dubious ancestried whites, some Aboriginals were particular about the color of one’s complexion. As it turns out, what Kitty really had in mind were Aboriginal family systems concerning who was related to whom and proprieties concerning who among these could legitimately marry. This, and several other things, including why the old women of the town beat Delilah bruised and bloody after the death of her grandmother, which were puzzling and left unexplained in the film, are explained in the film’s official FAQ.

Samson’s courting rituals are unmistakable and amusing, as is Delilah’s initial rejection of her putative husband. The two later form a bond after the grandmother dies and the neighborhood biddies beat up Delilah in their quest to find a scapegoat for Kitty’s death. Samson steals the shared community truck and drives the unconscious Delilah as far its tank of gas would take them. He stops only to siphon gas from other vehicles, but uses the soda bottle of gasoline he siphoned for huffing. It never occurs to him to use siphoned gas to refuel the truck when they finally run out of gas. (Though it is never overtly stated, it is implied that Samson has mild brain damage from his inhalant abuse.)

The pair end up sleeping under an overpass, sharing an encampment with an alcoholic homeless older Aboriginal man, who luckily proves friendly to them, albeit in a strange way (among other things, he serves them re-heated, canned spaghetti for breakfast while singing about it). He repeatedly asks the pair to talk to him, to tell him their story, but they remain silent. When he threatens to withdraw his assistance one day, Samson stutters out his name and we realize one of the reasons he doesn’t talk much.

If Delilah’s grandmother wanted her to marry on the theory that in Samson Delilah would have a protector, if not a provider, Samson proves a failure at this too: in one scene, Delilah is abducted by a group of white youths with a car, and Samson almost doesn’t notice while he is walking and huffing gasoline fumes from his soda bottle of siphoned gasoline. (It is only upon her return, with a black eye and most likely raped, that she resorts to huffing. Previously, her “escape” had been listening to music from a car cassette player.) Again the film’s FAQ comes to the rescue: it explains that Samson also has hearing loss and the couple has mostly been communicating through Aboriginal hand signals and body language. This comes into play again when Delilah is similarly hit by a car; Samson is about ten paces ahead and doesn’t notice.

He makes no attempt to retrace his steps and recover her; instead he huffs himself into a weeks-long drug induced stupor. Delilah appears almost as an angel in a clean white hoodie, wearing a shiny leg brace and using a crutch. She’s called in the cavalry; a man from their community picks up the near-dead Samson, carries him to the recovered truck, and drives them both back.

This time, the cadre of old ladies beats Samson with tree limbs, but Delilah fights them off. She cleans up the shack that she and her grandmother called home, burns a painting in tribute, gives Samson a good bath and sets him up in Kitty’s former wheelchair with a radio to keep him entertained. The film ends on a hopeful note; perhaps Samson will recover from the damage he’s done to his brain with the love of a good woman, and for all his faults, perhaps he’ll be a good companion to the scarred Delilah.

Note: though Samson and Delilah has minimal dialogue throughout, only the dialogue in their Aboriginal language is subtitled. English dialogue is not captioned, so deaf and hard-of-hearing folks may have a little trouble following the story. We don’t quite have the heart to stick this movie in the Hall of Shame though.

Like Stars On Earth (Taare Zameen Par)

Warning: The fast-moving blinking introductory sequence to this picture could trigger seizures or otherwise pose a problem for those with sensory issues.

Like Stars on Earth is ostensibly about a small boy from India named Ishaan who has dyslexia, but from what is initially portrayed, he seems to have a larger problem with a wandering mind and very intense daydreaming, both in and out of class. However, this makes him a gifted artist, who is well above his age group in what he can draw and imagine. The movie says that he is 8 years old, but he actually looks much smaller than an eight-year old. While his older brother brags to his parents of his high marks, Ishaan tosses his test papers to the dogs, and tries to avoid talking about school.

It is perhaps the structure and restrictions of the normal expectations of the school system that rub him the wrong way, because one day, after having been punished by being sent by the teacher to stand in the hallway, he goes AWOL and wanders the streets, savoring the exciting sights of tourist-film India. He appears to be somewhat hyperactive. If his parents attempted to have him tested, it may be that he never sat still long enough to get a diagnosis.

Everyone in Ishaan’s life complains about him, from the school bus driver, because he is constantly late and must be bodily pulled away from whatever he is doing when it is time to take the bus; to the teachers who see sub-par schoolwork and bad behavior, to the neighborhood kids who have no love for him because of his bad aim with a ball.

Things come to a head when he is busted by his parents for having forged an absence note to account for that day out of school. They have a meeting with his teachers and it is revealed that Ishaan is repeating the third grade, and his teachers tell his parents that there’s been no improvement the second time around. They suggest Ishaan’s parents send him to a “special school”, but Ishaan’s father believes that it is the class size of 60 and a perceived “lack of discipline” that has led to Ishaan’s academic failure. So he makes good on his repeated threat to send Ishaan to boarding school, where the teachers attempt to cure his wandering attention by rapping his hands with a ruler, his problems seeing letters “dancing” in front of him on book pages and blackboards and his academic failures continue.

Ishaan is clearly depressed by the above by the time the school gets a new art teacher, who makes a dramatic entrance with a song-and-dance routine, playing a flute and wearing a clown suit. (This movie has several Bollywood-inspired mini-music videos effectively portraying certain situations and emotions in compressed amounts of time. They are very well done and a bit more restrained than in some movies meant strictly for East Indian consumption. The DVD has a separate section of them so they can be played independently of the movie.)

The new, youngish, enthusiastic teacher brings with him a wave of fresh air and happiness which is apparent to all, but doesn’t immediately sweep over Ishaan. The new, youngish, enthusiastic teacher (who also teaches at one of those so-called “special schools”) must first discover that Ishaan has dyslexia, and tell his parents and the other teachers, and embark upon a program of academic remediation for Ishaan and consciousness-raising for his classmates.

Superteacher will in time also reveal that he, too, has dyslexia, of course. (“Special Ed kid makes good by growing up to be Special Ed teacher” is the theme of any number of children’s books and college essays in the US.)

I love where he tells Ishaan’s father that in the Solomon Islands, villagers don’t chop down a tree when they want to clear land, but curse and hurl abuses at it, and the tree withers and dies soon after. My mother, a Special Ed teacher in a US-based special school, said “I would get fired if I were to talk to a parent like that”. This picture is a revealing look at middle class life in India, the importance placed by the striving middle class of India on school performance, and the school system in India, which, as it turns out has “Education for All” legislation on the books similar to Special Education laws which came into existence in the US during the 1970s, but which more often than not fail to be implemented on the school level in India.

One bright spot in Ishaan’s boarding school experience is that he makes friends with Raju, a boy with heavy, old-style braces on his legs who recognizes his intelligence, and (fulfilling the stereotype about disabled kids) is more observant and accepting than the other kids in the class.

Ishaan is seen having letters traced into his forearm, writing abcs in a sand tray, molding letters out of clay. Whatever problems he may have been having in Hindi (a language formally studied in school and spoken in class by some of the teachers) are not portrayed in this movie, just notebooks with backwards letters and misspelled words in English. Math concepts were given in an interesting fashion: the teacher had Ishaan ascend higher steps on an outdoor stairway to instill the concept of increasing numbers by multiplication. (What to do for a kid with both dyslexia and mobility impairments, if such a kid exists?) While all of these tactile measures portrayed may contribute to “rewiring” a dyslexic child’s brain, and are recognized techniques in special education, the idea that a kid will inevitably experience a shining improvement soon thereafter may not be realistic. The evidence of his inevitable improvement is portrayed as better English writing and his demonstrated ability to read a poster announcing a school-wide art contest and sound out a complex, multi-syllabic word.

The Last Rites of Ransom Pride

The Last Rites Of Ransom Pride purports to be a Western, but looks more like an MTV music video starring Walker Texas Ranger. In it, a tough woman with the improbable name of Julliette Flowers lies, cheats, and kills in order to bring the body of her outlaw lover (with the even more improbable name of Ransom Pride) home to be buried next to his mother. In order to do this, she must exchange one life for another; namely, that of Ransom’s brother Champ. The blood-price is sought by one Bruja, a vicious Mexican voodoo priestess whose (Catholic?) priest brother was killed by Ransom some time before. And if you couldn’t tell Bruja was the villain from the decomposing headdresses she wears, she also has burn scars artfully disfiguring her face and eye.

Juliette Flowers and Champ Pride (am I the only one reminded of Hiro Protagonist?) embark on an almost hallucinogenic journey to retrieve Ransom’s body and gun down anyone in their way, encountering mythical creatures such as a dwarf and a pair of dying conjoined twins. The unnamed Dwarf and the token alcoholic black man get into a game of one-upmanship over who has the better life, but fortunately both are killed before the tales get really tall. The enigmatic twins seem to do nothing but lament their impending double demise.

Oh, and there’s a gratuitous deaf girl with crutch-using father who seems to serve no purpose other than to indicate how bad the bad guys are for abusing her.

Blurred and color-shifted imagery, millisecond flashbacks, and jarring camera work all contribute to the feeling that these disability tropes are, to paraphrase the conjoined twins, “performed for illiterate imbeciles and pathetic whores and they mock us”. We cannot allow this precious time we have to be stained with ridicule, indeed.