With the conclusion of our novel The Wilderness by Samantha Harvey, I found a really interesting article about a man who began drawing self-portraits when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. William Utermohlen was diagnosed in 1995 and strived to attain a better understanding of the disease himself. He grew up very educated and even attended Oxford in London. I think he really was a genius in deciding to create this insight into his mind. I cannot even wrap my head around the feeling Mr. Utermohlen must have went through in realizing he was forgetting what he looked like.
In some sense, I imagine his whole experience as an individual to be sort of “real.” The way his condition progressed is shown so powerfully through his portraits. To me, it displays the intangible decomposition of his memory. It is one thing to watch someone become less capable of retaining memory, but to gain insight into an individual’s mind is so astonishing.
When I observe his portraits I think of how much more real it is. Maybe it is because, like I stated before, it enables an insight into the individual’s mind. The exchange of color and shapes just fascinates me. I also generated many questions while examining these portraits. How accurately do these self-portraits represent William Utermohlen’s mental state? Would these depictions be considered more “real” rather than a journal or other written work?