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Spoon RiverDaily Austin Republican, November 25, 1858. There must be an archaic technical term or two for this marvelous effect, whereby a pregnant woman who is traumatized by X gives birth to Y. Anybody out there know the jargon? Meanwhile, you’re doubtless wondering how this kid managed to get along without a head. Well, it’s really quite simple. . .Spoon River2

I do know the word for what this kid was: He was a Blemmyes, part of an ancient race of headless people of whom Pliny the Elder wrote (while extremely high, presumably) traduntur capita abesse, ore et oculis pectore adfixis (“They are said to have no heads, but a mouth and eyes in their chests”). Pliny had it worked out that these folks lived out Africa way somewhere, maybe Ethiopia. Blemmyes636px-Nuremberg_chronicles_-_Strange_People_-_Headless_(XIIr) That’s pretty far from Illinois, but let’s give Pliny credit for the details he got right.


  1. The Pliny? Inspired. If there were a McArthur Prize for blogging, I would nominate you.

    The doctors called it maternal impression; in Martin Chuzzlewit, Mrs. Gamp’s imaginary friend Mrs. Harris’s brother-in-law is “six foot three, and marked with a mad bull in Wellington boots upon his left arm, on account of his precious mother havin’ been worrited by one into a shoemaker’s shop, when in a sitiwation which blessed is the man as has his quiver full of sech, as many times I’ve said to Gamp when words has roge betwixt us on account of the expense.”

    • Maternal impression! Beautiful. Figured I might count on you for le mot juste.

      >If there were a McArthur Prize for >blogging, I would nominate you.

      Most kind of you.

  2. Surely THIS one was not “of high intelligence”.

    • I’m not getting a MENSA vibe here, no.

  3. New here, from Toronto, Canada

    Just a quick hello from as I’m new to the board. I’ve seen some interesting comments so far.

    To be honest I’m new to forums and computers in general 🙂


    • Welcome, Mike.

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