Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Among the Dead

When hell is full the dead will walk the Earth

Sometimes when I'm alone in the woods after sunset or exploring an abandoned building I start thinking about all the horror movies I've seen. When you are some place dark and scary it's hard not to think of zombies. I'll admit it, at times I get scared when I'm out there alone. So it struck me as odd that when I finally was surrounded by the flayed and gruesome corpses of dozens of people my actual response was "This is making me hungry".

Body Worlds 2.jpg
My child sees dead people.

We finally got to see Body Worlds 2: The Brain - Our Three Pound Gem down at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Misseswether and Miniwether had been wanting to see this exhibit ever since it was announced that it was coming. Miniwether loves books on human anatomy, loves discussing the human body, and loves examining the guts of non-human creatures such as chickens, fish, and deer. I'm assuming every five-year-old girl does. She thought it was really cool at first but soon got bored with it. Having a heart sitting right there but not being able to touch it made her annoyed. She did get to play with a kidney, but that just isn't the same.

I found the exhibit aroused feelings of interest, then boredom, then hunger, then disgust. I found the unusual bodies to be the most interesting...the spine twisted by scoliosis, the man with twelve fingers and twelve toes, the diseased organs, and the body reconstructed with every implantable medical device, pin, and plate. Yep, I could relate to these people.

There are a lot of bodies at Body World. Each is posed as if they were doing something ordinary such as hitting a baseball, doing yoga, or just sitting there thinking. You know what, after the third or fourth heart they begin to look the same. After ten or twelve they just get boring. Then your mind starts comparing them to other guts you've seen and you realize once the skin is off all meat looks the same. Looking at them made the soccer team's actions much more understandable.

Um, yeah.

After that rather unpleasant epiphany I wandered into the "baby room" which was probably the worst thing I could have done. After all we went through to get Mini and Mambo seeing jar after jar of dead babies sickened me. The eight-week old had tiny little, perfectly formed fingers...

I didn't stay in that room.

The rest of the exhibit passed in a blur. Miniwether didn't want to see any more either so we headed out to the museum gift store where she fell in love with the book Grossology and You.

While the bodies' tissues had lifelike coloring they did have a plasticy look to them. The plastination process leaves everything looking kind of like the parts of the old Visible Man model.

I'm still not sure what I think about the whole experience. I certainly don't feel the exhibit should be banned or anything like that. At the same time I personally regret going to it. It seemed like...a violation. Sure, the adults offered themselves freely to the process but the babies... It just seemed wrong to me.

And the quote I started this with kept coming back to me...

Adventure! Excitement! The End of the World!


Izzy G. said...

i saw this stuff on TV and was like "DO NOT WANT."

Anonymous said...

Even after all the studying of the human form that I did back in art school, I don't think I could stomach this exhibit. Looking at some of the photos on Flickr was enough for me.

It's lamentable; I could probably learn a lot by sketching at that exhibit.

Windrider said...

I passed on it when it was here in Miami as well.

It seemed like what the exhibits in the 1800's must have been like. I had no medical value to to it. It was more of the "shock and awe" type feel.

It came off as macabre and distasteful.

Anonymous said...

I saw an ad for this exhibit in the San Jose airport and was totally interested in going. Would've stayed away from the baby room though - ick. *Shudders*
Thanks for the review.