Friday, April 21, 2006

Not Coming to St. Louis?

The more often I see the promo for the Body Worlds exhibit, the more I want to see it. Or do I? Through the process of "plastination," a German scientist displays super-naked human bodies as objects d'art --bodies that he acquires from willing patrons who sign their bodies to him for use after their death. The body is then preserved, the skin is stripped away and the cadaver is posed "lifelike" for all to admire and study. Everything is visible. The muscles, organs, tendons, ligaments, and even bodies of a fetus in a pregnant woman are visible for those with a morbid curiosity to examine.

On the exhibit's web page, we are told, "Every human being is unique. Humans reveal their individuality not only through the visible exterior, but also through the interior of their bodies, as each body is distinctly different from any other.... It would be impossible to convey this anatomical individuality with models, for a model is nothing more than an interpretation. All models look alike and are, essentially, simplified versions of the real thing. The authenticity of the specimens, however, is fascinating and enables the observer to experience the marvel of the real human body. The exhibitions are thus dedicated to the individual interior face."

Today I am grateful for skin. The body's largest organ, I understand, is skin. Some of us have more of it than others; some of us are thick skinned and others are thin skinned, sensitive individuals wearing their hearts on their sleeves. And when we die our skin decomposes; unless you will your body to Gunther von Hagens, and everthing you've hidden all those years is exposed for friend, foe, and stranger to see in all its glory.

I missed the Chicago venue, but there is still time to see it in Denver, St. Paul, and Boston.

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