Saturday, May 19, 2007

Bodies: The Exhibition

was totally, totally cool. I learned so much about the way the body works.

Arteries are lovely, by the way...

FWIW, even though the bodies don't actually look like dead people, everyone was quite respectful. You got the sense that people really got that these were the bodies of people who had died. It was very quiet and I felt self conscious explaining things to my friend's children.

After seeing a cirratic liver and a smoker's lung, I could look at a body and get at least a few basic clues about how the person lived. (They all died of natural causes. Even the fetuses are from miscarriages.) It wasn't like your typical museum display of cookie-cutter anatomy models. These people were different sizes and different builds. One woman had a weird belly button. To at once looking at the inside of their bodies while having such a sense of their humanity was a transcendent experience.

Breasts look like coral. They're beautiful.

My friend's six-year-old boy was riveted by a display of tumors of the female reproductive system. He insisted I read the captions on each one and tried to explain them as well as I could. I also told him this was why you're supposed to go to the doctor every year so that things like that could be caught when they were small.

I confronted a prostate.

The bodies that appeared to be in motion were my favorites. You could see the way muscles worked.

I really feel like this experience has changed my view of my body, and I hope the souls of the people who once inhabited those bodies are someplace where they can appreciate that.



PeaceBang said...

Best Phrase in the UU Blogosphere Today:

"I confronted a prostate."

Lilylou said...


PG said...

I was interested in seeing the exhibit after reading your post, but a Taiwanese friend who lives in Northern Virginia alerted me to the fact that the bodies are all from a Chinese university and that unlike Body Worlds, there hasn't been an authentication of informed consent from the prior inhabitants of the bodies on display. I am not comfortable with "the poor, the unclaimed or the unidentified" being the bodies displayed for my edification.

Chalicechick said...

(((the poor, the unclaimed or the unidentified")))

My understanding is that unclaimed and unidentified bodies are sometimes used by medical students in the US. Do you object to that?


PG said...

"My understanding is that unclaimed and unidentified bodies are sometimes used by medical students in the US. Do you object to that?"

Yes. I believe in giving over a body for others' use after one's death only with consent and without coercive pressures. I don't even like several states' former law for default cornea removal (if you were not marked as an organ donor, the states still would take your corneas without even asking your family). If we are using a body simply because we don't know who once inhabited it, or because no one has stepped forward to care for it, that is morally problematic for me. To clarify what I consider coercion: I am opposed to paying people for their organs, but I am a registered organ donor myself and want to give my skeleton to be preserved for the science department at my high school. Uncoerced consent makes a huge difference in whether I find a use of a dead body to be acceptable.