Today in class, we got sidetracked by the curious case of Jeremy Bentham. When Dr.Greenlaw mentioned that Bentham had his body embalmed and used for display at University College London, I knew he sounded familiar. A year or two ago, I found this wild mortician lady who has a YoutTube channel about mortuary work and death in general. Her name is Caitlin Doughty (her channel is called Ask a Mortician) and she’s pretty freakin’ cool. I remember becoming obsessed with her series called Iconic Corpses, where she talked about weird stories about bodies that have become famous. Guess who was featured?? My guy, Jeremy Bentham.
So our pal Jer (do you think he’d let me call him Jer?) decided that he wanted his body to be embalmed and put on display as an “auto-icon.” I’d say that’s pretty weird and egotistical, but I guess what’s done is done. It’s important for everyone to know that what UCL has on display isn’t really his body, at least in my opinion. It’s just his skeleton and some stuffing with a wax head. Now I’ll give Jer some credit, he wanted his actual, real head on display on top of his body, but let’s just say his scientist that was in charge of his head? yeah he botched that… y’all can look that up at your own discretion. All I have to say about that is ew. Sorry Jer :/
His botched head actually did end up on display with his “body,” it was placed right in between his feet. I personally wonder who thought that was a good idea but whatever. Anyways, UCL had to remove Jer’s head in the 70’s because people started stealing it as a prank. Who steals a botched human head? Literally who… why would you want that? Don’t you think it would be cursed? Whatever weirdos were stealing our buddy Jer’s head caused it to be taken away, so maybe it’s a blessing in disguise (refer to some pictures of it if you dont believe me, once again I say EW).
You’re probably all still wondering, “why did homeboy do this to himself?” Well, he wanted to encourage people to donate their bodies to science and decided to make himself an example. He hoped that other people of similar status would follow in his footsteps, but I would assume that anyone who saw his head wouldn’t want any part of that whole shebang. On a real note though, Jer helped make laws that allowed people to donate the bodies of relatives to science and dissect unclaimed bodies back in the day. This helped out with the whole grave robbing situation, so even though he’s still totally wack for embalming himself like that, it was all for some decent reasons.
I hope y’all are as confused and intriguied by Jer as I am. Go watch the Ask a Mortician video on him and a ton of other dope corpses, I promise you’ll be entertained because Caitlin Doughty is really great. Her videos are pretty educational and interesting, and they kinda make you think about what you want to do with your body after you die. Maybe kinda morbid for everyday viewing, but to each their own. Have a good day friends!