Dark Bilious Vapors

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors....
--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Meditation I

Home » Archives » January 2005 » Why is life so endlessly fascinating?

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01/03/2005: Why is life so endlessly fascinating?

Because just when you think you've seen everything, just when you think there's absolutely nothing out there that can possibly surprise you, something seemingly pops out of nowhere and surprises you.

Did you ever really think that a replica head of William Clarke Quantrill, the Confederate raider, would be a tourist attraction?

"It is nothing more than a curiosity."

Dover City Historical Society President Jim Nixon is conflicted when he discusses the replica human head in his care. He would like nothing better than to see it vanish or destroyed, yet he is honor-bound to protect it.

The replica head, like the man who it is sculpted to resemble, is loved by some, and hated by all the rest. It's somehow fitting that the reconstructed countenance of William Clarke Quantrill, Civil War raider, continues to vex its keepers at the Dover Carriage House Museum. Site managers Jim and his wife have probably disciplined themselves to suppress audible groans when yet another Civil War buff or student calls and asks to see the head.

What makes Quantrill's head our kind of attraction, aside from being an odd Confederate artifact in the Union state of Ohio, is that the Society stores it in a vintage refrigerator, alongside a bottle of ketchup and other condiments. The wax sculpture was found to be sweating and softening during warm summer months, and the fridge was a convenient way to assure its preservation.

The head isn't shown on regular tours unless someone asks.

"Very few people are familiar with Quantrill," explains Jim. "It would require a lengthy explanation. It's not a ninety second talk. THIS is not the focus of our existence. It is, quite honestly, a very small part of what we do."
"Yes, the head's in the fridge, right next to the old bottle of ketchup."

Further comment would be superfluous.

Len on 01.03.05 @ 03:05 PM CST


Replies: 1 comment

on Tuesday, January 4th, 2005 at 8:07 AM CST, Pete said

I'd want to see it just for the Zevon relationship.

"War broke out between the states/So they joined up with Quantrill"

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