BHA50: Joseph ‘Elephant Man’ Merrick – Dignity in Existential Horror

todayJune 19, 2023

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This week, we take a break from the dense alchemy to consider how these concepts are applied in human life, namely in the life of one of history’s most peculiar and tragic characters: Joseph Merrick aka The Elephant Man. Many are aware of the man’s namesake and the rumor that Michael Jackson purchased his bones (Jackson was interested but never actually got them), but lesser known are the truly heartbreaking and inspiring bits and pieces that made up Merrick’s life before he died at 27.

You can listen to the episode right here!

Born with a disease that no scientist can seem to completely agree upon (and likely a combination of a few of them to make this once-in-history character) the Elephant Man couldn’t smile, couldn’t whistle, couldn’t sleep laying down, wasn’t smiled at by a woman until his late 20’s, and couldn’t show his face without being absolutely terrified and/or disgusted by literally everyone who saw him. Yet he never let it break him — he was always a gentle soul, looking to love and be loved.

His parents had abandoned him to a worker’s camp, and even the doctor who proved to be his salvation was initially baffled to find that he wasn’t mentally-handicapped. As Dr. Treves came to learn, Merrick actually had a vibrant intellectual imagination, he could read and write, and had a passion for the Bible, often contemplating his own existence and the existence of others. So often the Elephant Man lived in his own mystical imagination, like a warlock incapable of human contact, and yet somehow knowing so much more about it than we could ever grasp.

Before the saving grace of the kindly doctor, Merrick had been touted around Europe as a PT-Barnum-style “sideshow freak”, being shown to cultures so horrified that his public display was quickly outlawed anywhere he went. All of this, and yet some-fucking-how, Joseph Merrick was able to turn it all around and even be quoted at the end of his life saying that he was happy every moment of the day.

How did all this happen? Learn the true story of Joseph ‘Elephant Man’ Merrick with me this week!


The Elephant Man and Other Reminiscences – Sir Frederick Treves



Don’t forget to support that black hoodie rap and all your favorite independent artists!

And check out this week’s featured music:

God’s Image – Unknown Mizery x Arkeologists

Metempsychosis – Epidemic

Model Citizen – Babylon Warchild


Written by: Anthony Tyler

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