Present but not voting

Jeremy Bentham, one of 18th century England’s foremost thinkers is best remembered for dreaming up a new kind of prison, the Panopticon. Its design was meant to create a feeling of “invisible omniscience” among the prisoners, who could never be sure whether they were being watched or not.

Unable to realize his Panopticon in life, he, in his will ,mandated that his body be preserved and stored in a wooden cabinet at University College London, which he founded. It sits there today, at the end of a hall, wearing the same clothes he wore when he was alive. His head, badly damaged in the preservation process, sits in a jar at his feet. The “Auto-Icon,” as it is known, is hauled out for University Council meetings from time to time, at which Bentham is listed on the official register as “present but not voting.


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