September 2013: Harper’s Magazine, New York. Commissioned and published linoleum cut . To illustrate ” The Devil’s Bait” by Leslie Jamison
” For me, Morgellons Disease started as a novelty: people said they had a strange disease, and no one—or hardly anyone—believed them. But there were a lot of them, almost twelve thousand, and their numbers were growing. Their illness manifested in lots of ways: sores, itching, fatigue, pain, and formication, a sensation of insects crawling over the skin. But the defining symptom was always the same: strange fibers emerging from their bodies. Not just fibers but fuzz, specks, and crystals. They didn’t know what this stuff was, or where it came from, or why it was there, but they knew—and this was what mattered, the important word—that it was real. “
“Even here, amongst others who identify with the same malady, he retreats back into the cloister of his broken body—into that nearly unfathomable loneliness”
Creating the original linoleum prints: drawing, cutting and printing process
The Devil Bait – carving/cutting the linoleum cut block
On the past years, for Harpers’, the Op-Ed section of The New York Times and other publications, I have illustrated very hard issues: endlessly the wars, torture, infectious illnesses, ‘natural catastrophes ‘ and men made ones, human rights issues…name it; but this is the first time I could not finishing reading my assignment: “I once had a specimen of my own. It was a worm in my ankle…Which is to say: physical symptoms can offer strange relief—they make suffering visible.“… “Patients started bringing these threads and flecks and fuzz to their doctors, storing them in Tupperware or matchboxes, and dermatologists actually developed a phrase for this phenomenon. They called it “the matchbox sign,” a signal that patients had become so determined to prove their disease that they could no longer be trusted.”
Possible, the author’s words had been affecting me way more because of my recently broken toes, as a reminder or my own vulnerability and dysfunctionality ! See what’s going to be your take while reading the Harper’s September story issue?
Texts © copyright Harper’s Magazine, New York.
Drawings linoleum cuts, photographs and texts © copyright Raymond Verdaguer, 2013.