Self Defection


Michelle Legro reviews Ambroise Paré's On Monsters and Marvels, a compendium of 16th century birth defects:

Today, people feel compelled to make themselves as marvelous as the creatures Paré once beheld. Plastic surgery can pierce tongues in two like a snake’s, stretch faces to look like jungle cats’, and cover a circus performer’s body in scaly tattoos to resemble a lizard. In a 2001 profile in Harper’s, Joe Rosen, a radical plastic surgeon at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center suggested that we should have the freedom to make marvels of ourselves, implanting wings into our shoulder blades, replacing our eyes with far-seeing owl eyes: "Why are plastic surgeons dedicated only to restoring our current notions of the conventional, as opposed to letting people explore, if they want, what the possibilities are?"

(Photo by Flickr user satragon)