Saturday, March 26, 2005

Show Some Skin!

Just got back from the California Science Center and the infamous Body Worlds exhibit. It's a real butt buster! Well, not really, but I did see a lot of bare butts. It's a real eye-opener is what it is (and nothing like the picture I drew for you last time).

When I first walked in and saw that first specimen, I thought it was pretty outrageous. Then I saw the skeleton of a child and thought it was totally sick (in a troubling way)! It's a really disturbing show and not one that I would go to again, but I am glad that I went. And I'm thankful that I wasn't allowed to take pictures because it's not really something I'd like to remember too vividly.

The exhibit featured about a dozen or so bodies donated to science and displayed to show exhibitors the inner workings of our human anatomy. Most of the bodies were skinned entirely. There were some that were chopped up and displayed in cases; others cut up in cubes and the flesh and bone pulled out like a desk drawer; some just displayed specific parts of the body (such as only the muscle tissues or only the nervous system or only the blood vessels, etc); and some were chopped up vertically and spread apart ala the horse in the movie The Cell.

After the initial shock, it got easier to view the specimens as educational tools. The exhibit creators found creative ways to open up the cadavers (i.e. folding their skin and flesh away so you can see all the layers). One specimen that I found particular interesting, not because I was looking at the guy's inners, but because he had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot. That was pretty wild.

The fact that they deskinned the specimens made it easier to stomach and stare at. There was one, however, that really creeped me out moreso than the others. It was of a man sliced up vertically into 6 or 8 pieces. Two of the segments showed his face and the look on it was horrific! The man had his eyes winced, shut tight, and his face was scrunched up as if he were in pain when they sent him through the buzzsaw. That was pretty jarring. They also had the body of a fat man cut the same way, but laid out across a table. I found it more sick and twisted rather than educational. Can you imagine if you went to one of these and you recognized someone you knew all chopped up? I think that'd just about make anyone have a heart attack. Throughout the exhibit, I found myself not okay with what was being done. But I guess that's science for you.

Another display showed a pregnant woman with the fetus still inside. You could count the little toes on the baby that were forming. That, albeit shocking, was actually pretty interesting.

All in all, this experience made it clear to me that I could never get into the medical field. Ellvin Kelvin has told me that he's had to deal with plenty of cadavers in his schooling. I'm just not cut out (pardon the pun) for that kind of stuff. And I don't understand really how anyone would want to donate their bodies to something like this. It seems like they're never in a position to rest in eternal piece. How do you know you won't need your body after you die? Maybe in the after life, we need them to be in a restful state; not hardened into plastic and propped up like a freak show. But hey, if you want to be the center of attention after death, they had a booth set up with information on how, yes, you, yourself can donate your body to be sliced and diced and deboned and put on display for all to gaze at your gonads.

So my question is, was this about science or more of a perverse art? I sure as hell prefer the kind that goes on a canvas. Spare me the creepy glass eyes and fingernails, thanks.

Turning vegan,