Notes for a
Tale of Perfect

Paul Magee
A doctor was found dead on the banks of the Torrens, armless, legless, his gaping sockets sewn up with surgical precision, like a dismembered (but curiously unmechanical) mannequin. An almost organic crime, seemingly devoid of artifice, but for the stitches of the upside-down cruciform scar running from the doctor's thorax to his belly, and crossing off to the almost sensuous curves of his hairless sides.

The autopsist slowly unstitched the scar, his hand, for once, made hesitant by the still palpable violence of the scalpel which had preceded his. The skin peeled back, opening up a cavity where one should find waterlogged organs in various states of livid tumescence and pallid shrivelling. Disembowelled. And instead of intestine, stomach, liver, and all those other signs of life ... two arms, neatly folded at the elbow, packaged next to thighs, legs and feet, also folded back at the joints like --- like arms and legs --- as if they were in reality always meant to perform exactly this function. As they are.

In Melbourne I'm discussing with Danny our planned collaboration on a script for a film documentary on anatosematophilia. Anatosematophilia means sexual attraction to people without limbs. It is a term one finds in books with titles like Sexual Anomalies and Perversions. It's going to involve in-depth interviews (faces blacked out) with the objects of anatosematophilia, who will presumably describe the various advances and perhaps experiences they have encountered throughout their limbless lives. We haven't agreed as to which one of us will walk up and ask for interviews. Actually I doubt we'll ever do it at all. Though I've told a lot of people (fully-limbed) about the project, not all laugh, some are silent, and some even find it disturbing.

There is something dismembering about the way we write stories, as if they were not as much a part of us as the cigarettes that are extensions of our fingers and the shoes that we grow on our feet and the silently sewn-up sockets that once tied us to someone else. As if one could read without at once articulating a link between story and something internal and organic and never there anyway.

I would wake --- in Adelaide --- into a vivid imagining of a minute motion that could, like strychnine, shatter every muscle --- bone-rigid with terror --- in my body. As if the slightest movement might overexert the limbs which I no longer controlled. The arm on which I was lying would fall asleep and scream with agony, yet I could not move it even an inch for fear --- but more than fear, knowledge --- that it would arc over backwards forcing my elbow to describe 270 degrees of contortion before snapping with a wrenching that would...and sometimes it would continue into waking when I would know that all I had to do was to step out of bed and --- my foot would hit the concrete floor with such a force that the ball of my foot would shatter, and then my shins and my leg right up to the knee which would then be touching my toes. As if I were stomping myself out of existence.

imagine splicing that film, cutting up the motion of a talking head, sticking foreign images onto disembodied voices, montaging from the jarringly normal relation of double amputee experience of perverse, onto the public shopping mall man/woman/child stopped in the street, cutting like a surgeon any neat ligature between voice and the articulator --- after having always already anyway ironed out all the spectral dimensionality of the fully embodied self in front of you and imprinting their flattened features onto the oily film that will become the scientific documentation of anatosematophiliac sensibility.

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Go to a review of Magee's book on Tierra del Fuego