Body Snatchers

 

Amir Naaman

Duplication

 

“Dr. Miles J. Bennell: I’d hate to wake up one morning and find out you weren’t you.”

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

 

 

Writing about Beauty is tricky territory. Beauty, it seems, is very jealous of her street-cred. Eventually you find yourself writing with hate and hurt about her, only to realize that in your denouncement of beauty you too, paradoxically, aspire to create a thing of beauty.

 

Beauty operates like a Virus. It seeks to duplicate itself, even if by doing so it destroys the host. What Beauty loses in authenticity by the act of reproduction and simulation, it makes up for in artificiality. Indeed, Beauty has been simulated so many times, that artificiality became its ultimate vessel, and its imitation of it is a simulation of a simulation.

 

In 1955 author Jack Finney wrote a book called “The Body Snatchers” that describes a process of an alien intelligence, simulating human beings, and becoming less than - and more than - human. Something about this story is so true (in a hidden subconscious level) that the story itself, like the alien intelligence it tells about, duplicated itself in at least four official cinematic adaptations:

 

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Body Snatchers (1993)

The Invasion (2007)

 

And these are just the official adaptations. The theme of alien intelligence taking over the human race through simulating human behavior (very badly) and the human form (in a very convincing way) finds a new carrier vessel every few years. And these, in turn, continue to duplicate themselves as well. Here are a few more examples:

 

“Who Goes There?”, a short story by John W. Campbell, Jr. was published in 1938. It tells of a thing from another world that can steal the form of any life it comes in contact with, and duplicate it perfectly. So perfectly, that for any intent and purpose it is identical to the organism it duplicates, except for the fact that it carries a different agenda.

 

This “thing” duplicated-transformed itself in 1951 in the film “The Thing From Another World”, directed by Christian Nyby and Howard Hawks; in 1982 in “The Thing”, directed by John Carpenter, and in 2011 as “The Thing”, which is a prequel to Carpenter’s movie and directed by Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. Robert A. Heinlein’s Sci Fi novel “The Puppet Masters” from 1951, was adapted twice to cinema. In “The Brain Eaters”, a 1958 film directed by Bruno VeSota; and in “The Puppet Masters”, a 1994 film directed by Stuart Orme.

 

Enough, let’s stop here.

 

 

 

Grave Robbing

 

I

 

“Henry Frankenstein: Look! It moving. It’s...it’s… it’s alive! It’s alive!“

Frankenstein (1931)

 

 

“The Monster: Alone: bad. Friend: Good.“

Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

 

 

“Dr. Frankenstein: For the experiment to be a success, all body parts must be enlarged.“

Young Frankenstein (1974)

 

 

There is nothing alive in a photo portrait. It doesn’t move nor does it breathe. Look into the eyes of the portrait’s subject. How can you be sure he is even human? Who is this man that is looking back at you? Has he graduated from high-school? Does he have some contagious disease? Has he ever killed a man? Does he believe in God? Was he ever abducted by an alien to Zeta Reticuli?

 

What you are looking at is actually a body snatch.

 

But unlike the snatchings that happen in the movies, this snatch was self-inflicted. The victim (the portrait’s subject) snatched his own body and offered it to you, in a manner reminiscent of ritual sacrifice. Offered it to you: A God? 

 

But wait a minute… now that you think about it, the duplication was not exclusively for your sake. Not at all!

 

Yes, a sacrifice was offered. But not solely for you. The victim (and protagonist) of the body snatching thought about god and thought about jesus and decided that, hey, if they can do it, fuck it and suck it, so can I! And in a magical operation called “taking a picture of yourself”,he made a copy of himself, in order to become holy, for his own sake too.

 

“Here,” he says, “take these pix, they are my flesh.” And he duplicated himself.

 

And you, you do not partake in this godly operation. You are just an on-looker, a voyeur. All you get is the holy “text”, not the person. Not any of the flesh.

 

So you look and you ponder, and you discover hidden meanings in the text (the pic), you find a hidden code, not necessarily because it exists, but because of the holy context (and maybe because secretly you yourself have similar urges and desires).

 

You look at the shape of the thighs, the shape of the ass. How the hair is distributed on the head and on the chest. You look for a key to a categorization system based on the look in his eyes; their color; the thickness of the upper lip; the size of the earlobe; the color of the anus.

 

All has meaning. You keep on contemplating and mediating… Until you realize that the only thing left to do is to steal the flesh from the photo.

 

You do this by acknowledging your own body with a touch. You invoke the form in front of you, the form you decided (or were driven) to crave - for he is filled with mysteries.

 

When looking at a picture of a body snatch, two magical transformations take place. One in the model; the other in the viewer.

 

 

II

 

“A widespread taste for pornography means that nature is alerting us to some threat of

extintion.“

J.G. Ballard

 

The model cannot duplicate himself in a perfect way. Because mixing/merging two sets of DNA to create another one (AKA an offspring) is not a perfect duplication - but a putrefaction. And since current science still doesn’t enable virgin birth, the only way for the model to reproduce himself, is through self-copulation.

 

And so, he takes the picture. He poses for it, pouting his lips and spreading his legs, checking and rechecking the lighting and where best it shows off his abdominal muscles, he shaves his chest hair and turns is head in the perfect angle, where his cheek bones and nose are most beautifully presented.

 

When the picture is finally snapped, the model is no longer the model. He looks like himself. True. But deep inside he is someone else. He is now YOU, the spectator. He is looking with eyes that are not his at a strange body, and is aroused.

 

Then you come in, Oh Voyeur! You look at this body, and you notice the blankness in the eyes. If eyes are not explicitly shown in the image you imagine eyes. And they are yours.

 

Since the Model has assumed your point of view, you appropriate his. You feel how his body feels like from the inside; its heaviness and its texture. You imagine how it feels like to walk around with one or more of his appendages, what you’d do with them if they were in your true possession. And you begin to covet. And the world of the flesh slowly hardens around you.

 

This exchange actually takes place in a mere instant. It’s hardly noticeable when you become the alien intelligence.

 

And then it is a done thing. Both of you - separated by Realtime, but coexisting in Magictime - wake up from your mutual trance state. You have just copulated in Hyperspace.

 

You both smoke a cigarette, you both feel like going to sleep.

 

As the world of the flesh slowly becomes lax again, you find yourself still feeling dissatisfied. Where can you get that thigh? You still need that thigh.

 

So you go grave robbing. In a dark sex club with other Frankensteins, you look for the organ you need to satisfy your fantasy. You simply must make the vision ALIVE!