Monday, August 29, 2011

Plastinated Emotion ...

Leave it to me to cry in the Museum of Science and Industry.

Twice.

The second time was while watching footage of the moon landing, seeing people from all around the world, then, cheering, and regretting that the world today seems a million miles away from that global camaraderie.

But the first time was in the Body Worlds exhibit.

Have you been?

It's fascinating. And while some may find occasion to be squeamish, there's really nothing to be squeamish about.

Yes, they're real bodies, real muscles, real organs, real bones. But the plastination process makes them look like, well, plastic.

So you have to remind yourself that you're looking at what remains of people who once were. Interestingly, their eyebrows are included. More interestingly, you have a sense of what they looked like when they were alive.

My mom and I were looking at a woman in an artful pose, with pretty eyes and an elegant nose. "She was beautiful," I said, and mom agreed. Not even the loss of life and skin erased her beauty.

Beyond the bodies are many organs, in cross sections and whole, displaying various diseases (the lungs of a smoker really do turn black) and deformities, and other parts of our anatomy. And I was fascinated to see them, to recall what I learned in anatomy and pre-med, but also to learn so much that was new.

And then, there, in the middle of a case, was an example of an abdominal aortic aneurysm, a massive rupture in the body's largest artery.

The cause of death of my friend Dave.

I could only stand there and stare and remember. For what felt like a long time.

And then I caught up with my mother and my brother, stood aside them and read what they were reading, wiped the tears away, and tried to be discreet.

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