the doll games
shelley and pamela jackson


s doll journal


Excerpt from S Jackson's doll journal, summer 2000

Day whatever. The system, it is kaputt. Want to write painstakingly about the individual dolls, especially Harvey-as-mushroom, fungal Harvey, Harvey as pregnant fleshy pod or sporiferous cap. Puffball Harvey, that swelled head, taut globe like something Bosch might paint, easy to imagine it splitting open like one of his monster dams holding open their cleft bellies to reveal the crowded spilling gelatinous eggs packed in there like pomegranate seeds and stickily dribbling out in strings–and that’s interesting in that Harvey is was always unsettlingly intersexed (so I slide easily from spores/ seeds/ eggs to sperm and Harvey’s head as a single swollen testicle), not just because he used to be Little Red Riding Hood (we found his and Willy’s little dresses last night) but also because of his huge eyes and dainty nose and lips, despite the mustache, and the thin wands of his legs and the tiny feet in their pink Mary Janes, and his little alert hands with their tapered fingers. So, the maternal head great with child is as plausible, at least if I make "child" "children" (hundreds of tadpole-Harveys, twitching).

Of course Harvey already looks something like a tadpole, and that’s another image: Harvey as embryo, unfinished and unborn, but somehow revoltingly possessed of mustache and adult libido) or eggs, as the image of male potency building up in a big cyst behind the eyes, Harvey being certainly potent enough though not for that reason manly, potent instead like a shrew screwing frantically and almost mechanically though it die of exhaustion, or like a male spider or mantis copulating with comical verve and single-mindedness even while his mate is removing his head. Not an image of power, in other words, only of optimism and determination. Cyst or egg sac: both moist, but I can also picture Harvey’s head ripped open or punctured, like the dry paper balloon of a puff ball, and then collapsing, while a dry powder drifts away on the air.
Sometimes I see Harvey’s head as a bubble of sour gases, probably poisonous, or a boil full of toxic fluids, this in sinister moments when his startled hands look like they’re up to something, and his pert self-satisfied smile seems to betray some shiny and efficient conspiracy instead of the self-delusion I usually see in it. But more likely his head is full of helium or laughing gas.
What about his strange neck, almost as thick as his trunk? It adds somehow to the disquietingly infantile impression he makes, though it’s a man-infant (that’s why it is disquieting; because it’s an unlikely and revolting combination, like a kitten crossed with a grasshopper. The soft, vulnerable and appealing mixed with the predatory, hard and inhumanly relentless. Like a goldfish with antlers?) and has grotesquely long thin legs for a baby (which distantly remind me of Dali’s unseemly arachnoid elephants), not to mention the mustache. But Harvey has the little flat po of a baby, and the soft breasts and rounded shoulders; it’s the contrast between those and his dainty, sharp hands and feet that is unnerving.

Day 5? Day 6? The photographs are amazing. I am picturing an entire wall of Harveys; or else a single Harvey, the size of a wall. There is something already unsettling about Harvey’s scale, related of course to the man-or-baby conundrum. His head is not from the same dimension as his feet, but since it also seems to be a different age than his feet, it’s not clear what he would look like even if they were from the same dimension. If his body were made to match his head, would it expand to that of a grown man with a proportional head (however weirdly round), or would it get both bigger and proportionally shorter, like a baby’s body? What would a "realistic" Harvey look like? (Is Harvey a caricature or a freak?)

Day what? Tonight idly watching a documentary TV show I exclaimed, "There’s Harvey!" (He was winsome, chinless, a bit too pleased with himself, with longish clean hair and a flashy suit.)