Monika (ergotismus) wrote,

- Too soon.

On a Sunday afternoon in December 1970, Aman­da Feilding drilled a hole in her head. "There was quite a lot of blood," she warns me when I ­visit her for lunch at Beckley Park—Feilding’s moated Tudor mansion just outside Oxford—and­ sit down to wat­ch the short film she made of her DIY surgery. "It’s not a difficult operation," she adds. Her pet ­African grey parrot nibbles her ear. "Drilling a hole in one’s head is really a nerve battle, doing something which obviously e­very instinct in your body is against. In a sense it’s quite satisfying that one can overcome one’s nerves to do it."­ The film, titled Heartbeat in the Brain, shows her shaving her hairline, putting on a floral shower cap to keep back her remaining locks, fashioning a mask out of sunglasses and medical tape, injecting herself with a local anesthetic, and peeling back a patch of skin with a scalpel. With a look of determined, almost trance-like concentration, Feilding then holds a dentist’s drill to her head and, pressing the foot pedal that operates it, begins to push its grinding teeth into the frontal bone. The film ends with footage of Feilding bandaging her head and mopping up the blood from her face with water and cotton wool. She changes out of her bloody tunic into a colorful Moroccan kaftan and wraps a shimmering gold turban around her head to disguise the bandages. Looking glamorous, bohemian, and elated, she smiles goodbye to the camera and heads off to a fancy-dress party.

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