the doll games
shelley and pamela jackson


editor's introduction

The expostulations you just read served as a frontispiece to the original hypertext, begun and abandoned by Shelley and Pamela Jackson. Also called the Doll Games, that project contained some of the material here assembled, though in a cruder form and without, if I may, the benefit of an academic’s critical sensibility. The mature Jacksons, torn between playfulness and the desire to tell the truth, found the latter a peculiarly stifling influence for writers whose creative origins lay so firmly in make-believe, and they scuttled the project after some years of intermittent work. With their permission, I have undertaken to continue it. As an independent scholar I have studied the Doll Games for some years; I feel immensely privileged to introduce this curious little world to a new audience.

It is up to the reader to say whether a Doll Games configured and, yes, perhaps disfigured by an epigone can succeed where by their own admission, the adult Jackson's own "Doll Games" failed. That abandoned hypertext has been for some years a ruined edifice, housing a ruined edifice: a mystery inside an enigma. It has haunted me. This fossil, this derelict, I have done my best to disensepulcher, and even—in so far as it is possible, for one not privy to the secrets of the Doll Games at first hand (though able to lay some modest claim to expert knowledge of, at least, the larger circles of their influence that even today continue to spread, like ripples in a pond or, if you will, like oscillations in an electromagnetic field, and when they meet points of resistence, only propagate new circles, which return to envelop the original center, which though all activity has stilled, thus continues to make waves)—to restore. I consider myself in the light of an archaeologist working two sites at once: a ruined city, and the ruined city it was built upon. Perhaps this work of mine will itself fall to ruins and become the object of a future archaeologist's course of study, and perhaps the opus that results from that study will fall to ruins in turn and await a still more future scholar of endeavors past, and so on. Or perhaps in my own investigations I will penetrate so far into these worlds within worlds that I will find myself examining the back of my own head, having come full circle.

Not the least peculiar object that has come down to us from that late, decadent period of the Doll Games, so particularly rich in artifactual droppings, is a doll-sized mirror. A crude mustache, eyebrows and shaggy "do" have been cut from electrical tape and arranged on the face of the mirror in such a way that a doll (or her handler) sees her face transformed. In this influencing machine, fashioned with who can say what degree of knowingness about the theatricality of gender, this all-purpose Duchamp, tremulous with the implied mustache of Harvey, or (mise en abyme—when Harvey himself is the Narcissus) delirious with the double spectacle/ specularization of mustache-implicit antagonizing and defeating the mustache-explicit—which latter, to add exquisite layers of irony, is itself a disguise and a supplement, so that the tranfigured Harvey in the mirror might look to him/herself, if you will pardon this fancy that bestows sight on a doll, rather more feminine than usual, in his/her reduplicated facial decorations, because more like any other female in a false mustache, and therefore both less like him/herself ("Harvey") and more like him/herself at once, restored to the Little Red Riding Hood that is hidden inside every wolf.

As, in my mind's eye, I look at a little girl looking at a doll looking at a reflection of a doll disguised—and unveiled—in the candid duplicity of this most extraordinary mirror, I may be excused, I hope, for experiencing a moment of vertigo, especially if I inform the reader that I too have a mustache, and for a moment seemed to glimpse my own image in the glass. Is it possible that I am neither the critic nor the audience, but just the latest dummy of the Jackson girls—that those pint-sized ventriloquists are throwing their voices out of the past, not to reveal their secrets, but to play yet another DOLL GAME?

J. F. Bellwether, PhD