A strong feeling of nostalgia arises as Shelley Jackson’s semi-autobiographical work my body – a Wunderkammer reminds the reader of awkward teenage years spent struggling to discover one’s own identity. Jackson’s raw and honest reflection of life is revealed through an anecdotal tour of her body, and establishes an intimate connection between reader and writer. This captivating piece invites the reader to identify with each reflection, providing a strangely inviting story for those willing to spend the time getting to know Jackson from the outside, in.
my body – a Wunderkammer begins with the presentation of an interactive body, labelled and modelled in Jackson’s likeness. Each part of the body is connected to another through hypertext links that, one by one, reveal personal anecdotes from Jackson’s life. We are invited to explore her body, and in turn piece together these memoires to ultimately gain a better understanding of Jackson’s journey of self-discovery. The reader learns that Jackson’s dissatisfaction with her “different” body (in comparison to her peers’) turns into appreciation as she realizes there is more to beauty than what the conventional ideas of it dictate. She embraces her “unconventional” qualities – her manly arms and hairy legs – and uses them to shape her identity. Each story, though quirky and bizarre, is in some way endearing, revealing how Jackson’s imperfections have formed her identity as both an author and an individual.
As an author, Shelley Jackson finds the relationship between human identity and the physical body to be the muse for the majority of her work. In keeping true to this theme, my body is a perfect vessel for Jackson to deliver and develop her autobiographical reflection of her relationship between body and soul. She brings to light the power possessed by the human body in the discovery of personal identity. Jackson’s interactive body, though virtual, is real in the sense that its imperfections are highlighted rather than hidden. It is these imperfections that set her apart from the rest of the world, and allow Jackson to learn more about herself as an individual.
By offering up an intimate reflection of her struggles with image and identity, Jackson gives the reader the opportunity to reflect upon their own stories. She acknowledges that the process of discovering one’s identity is not an easy feat. She urges her readers to not become caught up in trying to remodel themselves to fit a certain mould, but rather to create and fill their own. Jackson ultimately invites her readers to reflect upon their own identities, and the level of comfort they have within their own skin. This captivating piece leaves the reader with much to think about in terms of the strength of the relationship they have with their body. Jackson delivers a delightfully honest reflection, deconstructing the body piece by piece to ultimately reconstruct an understanding of the importance of personal identity.