Towards the Stage III: “Why?”

Yeah, but how? And more importantly, why? Why this story as opposed to any of the others you’ve written?”

Ah, hello again, hypothetical reader. I missed you. How have you been?

I’ve been wanting to write this story for a while now.  I had the idea for it after reading The Sick Rose, a collection of Victorian medical paintings accompanied by some rather over-designed essays, put out by the Wellcome Collection. There’s some seriously grotesque images in there which inspired your morbid  narrator to investigate further into the history of leprosy and the treatment of lepers by society (short version: not good).

Above: leprous hands, referenced from a medical text that I seem to have misplaced.

Because Hansen’s Disease/leprosy is a very visual disease (lesions, bone deformations, weakened immune systems resulting in the loss of one’s extremeties, costumes issued by the church in the middle ages, etc.), is only partially curable even today (intense antibiotic regimens are usually the prescribed treatment, but sometimes these don’t take and they won’t fix the attending nerve damage) and the historical stigma surrounding the disease, I feel like it was the right choice.

Above: Henriette, one of our principles.

The leper colony is a society of outcasts, essentially a waiting room for the hereafter. Those condemned to live their lives behind its walls are, again, historically, condemned to what St. John Chrysostom called “a living death.”  There’s evidence to suggest that many of these colonies were self-governed through a primitive democratic process, overseen by committees of monks, and largely independent of their surroundings. 

What with our government’s traitorous actions regarding healthcare (and basically everything else over the course of the last eight months), the rise of superstition over actual science (viz., antivaxxers; Gwenyth Paltrow’s GOOP;  preference given to the use of “alternative medicines;” rampant, unchecked corruption on the part of pharmaceutical companies; Martin Shkreli; and crystal enemas*), and the now apparently publicly government approved persection of minorities and women, if there was ever a time for a historically inspired graphic novel performance about leprosy, exclusion, community, and judgement, it is now.

Above: character sketches for Felicia, the protagonist of Büer’s Kiss.

(If I have been not academically rigorous in the preceding paragraphs, or anywhere else on this blog, please keep in mind that a.) I’m writing this on my phone and b.) I’m not a real historian.)
*Pick which one of these you think is made up
P.S.: I recorded a video with the New Hazlett folks that you can view here

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