Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Anatomy of willful ignorance

There's a whole helluva lot of righteous outrage out in the KC blogosphere lately. And there's plenty reason for some good ol' fashioned righteous indignation.

Let's see... the economy is going down like a desperate Westport skank. Drugs and murder are rampant on the city's east side. Oil is now over $100 a barrel which means gasoline prices are sure to follow. Sick cattle are being tortured and fed to our children in schools. And to top it all off we seem to be in the midst of a new Ice Age as global warming threatens to destroy the planet!

Yes, plenty to be righteously indignant about. But the cause du jour for some in the local blogosphere is the Bodies Revealed exhibit coming to Union Station.

Bea, Logtar, Jaybird, Tony and Alonzo have condemned the exhibit, some even calling for a "boycott" of the exhibit on moral grounds.

The objections seem to boil down to (paraphrasing): It's a moral outrage to publicly display the dead bodies of human beings.

Here's a sampling of quotes that I think are representative of these bloggers' views:
"Keep it in a learning environment, not it the public." -- Jay Bird's Kansas City
"I do not believe that science needs to be displayed in a freak show manner" -- Logtar
"...displaying bodies like art was somewhat obscene for me" -- Logtar
"I do not see any scientific or artistic merit on this morbid display." -- Logtar
"The exhibit is just uncanny & sinful" -- Alonzo Washington
It's a shame to see such closed minds from bloggers that I actually really respect (well, except for Tony).

"Keep it in the learning environment?" Shouldn't the entire world be a learning environment? I mean, I realize that as a general rule the people of KCMO don't really value learning and education, but are they trying to take us all back to the Dark Ages?

"Displaying bodies like art is obscene?" I'm glad Leonardo Da Vinci didn't think that way. The anatomy of the human body has been the subject of both art and science since the middle ages and is largely responsible for helping to kick-start the Renaissance.

The best argument against this is the potential that original occupants of the bodies on display might not have given full consent.

But for me, that's not enough to outweigh the potential educational experience. Why would I want to remain willfully ignorant when given this opportunity?

The exhibit opens in Union Station on February 29 and will run through Sept 1. I definitely plan on attending and I encourage you take this opportunity to expand your knowledge.

tagged: , , , , , , ,


  1. I must first say I totally agree with your take. After reading Tony's thoughts and him riding Alonzo's coat tails I pretty much tune that out.

    Another thing I find fascinating relating to Tony, and considering the source as always. Is the constant complaining about Union Station. So we're going to complain about it losing money and bitch and moan about it? Then when they go out and get something that has been in big cities like New York, we're going to bitch about that now?

    Can't have your cake and eat it too.

    Or it's just convenient sand for the vag.

  2. I don't think it's ignorance. I think it's a matter of personal choice. What works for you won't work for me, etc.

    While some people may not choose the right words to express their thoughts, I stand by my position. I am not asking anyone to boycott the exhibit, I'm just stating it is not my cup of tea.

    So calling us ignorants isn't going going to help you to make a point. Tell us why you are interested in the exhibit, instead.

    As for its being an educational experience, I agree that some people will see it like that. My opinion is different, and I made it very clear it was my own point of view. That is why I got so many A's in college when writing essays about evolution and ecology: I never dragged the whole world with me. I always make sure I start my discourses with "I think..."

  3. I see your take on my quote about as a total misunderstanding of what I mean. I see the study of the human body and education as fascinating, that is why my post opened with 3D modeling. If this exhibit was created by artist not using human bodies as a raw material, I would be all for it and supporting it. When I talked about the use of the human body I said it as a raw material, not as a subject.

  4. Bea, I apologize if I didn't choose the right words (that's why I got so many C's and D's in college while writing essays).

    I didn't mean to call anyone "an ignorant" per se. What I intended to say is that there is this tremendous educational opportunity -- an opportunity to really expand our minds and learn and gain a deeper understanding about the world around and within us -- and people who intentionally avoid this opportunity and encourage others to do so are taking actions to not learn.

    So when I say " willful ignorance" I'm referring to the willful lack of knowledge or education.

  5. We live in a society where I can't get to work without coming to a complete stop on the highway because a state trooper has his lights going on the other side of the median. The American public craves and demands morbid visual displays.

    I personally hope that they sell smoked turkey legs to enjoy while walking around.

  6. dead bodies?


    and can i move them into any position i want?

  7. I'm sure there are some people who will go just to see dead bodies on display. Others will go to look at human anatomy more in depth. I am in the latter category.

    Sadly, my educational experiences with anatomy only included dissection of a sheep heart, sheep eyeball, and sheep brain...all of which VERY small. I was once invited to the cadaver lab at UHS which was far more productive, and I was only there one day.

    Now that I am out in practice, I have the opportunity to go see this exhibit, and pay more attention to the parts that interest me (STFU Chimpo...and Meesha) and that I have more dealings with (vasculature, cardiac, pulmonary). It's going to be a far more enlightening experience than with clay models and 2-D pictures.

  8. H,what did I do?
    I don't have any moral stance against it. I personally find all thing dead disgusting, otherwise I could have been a doctor surrounded by hot nurses or is it nurses in heat? if I gave up on that chance, I am sure not going to see some dead schmucks and pay money for it.

  9. I first witnessed some of these bodies on Oprah and I was fascinated. I am not normally fascinated by the insides of people being shown. The fact that you guys have the opportunity to see them up close and personal? I am jealous. I hope the exhibit makes it's way to the West Coast (if it hasn't already) because I am so there!

  10. This exhibit was/is here in St. Louis, and I had reservations myself. I don't criticize the people who have qualms, but ultimately I looked at as a question of what makes us human. If we have an eternal soul, then death merely means that the body is left behind -- in that case, and not meaning to be crass -- it has the same moral status as an empty soda can. Therefore, if such a display can be of educational benefit, then so be it.


  11. Here here (or is it "hear hear"? I never have figured that out!), R. Sherman! When I die, I wanna be burned up. When the Twin dies, she wants to donate her body to science. I'm sure if they want to prop her up in some exhibit at that point in time so people can view what a however-old body looks like after dealing throughout life with diabetes (child-onset kind), she'd be pleased as punch. (But she won't be there, so it won't really matter much, now will it?)

    I'm not so keen on checking out the exhibit myself...happily remaining in the ignorant category, thank you very much. Dead bodies...*shudders*

  12. crap, emaw, you sick puppy: i don't want to have sex with their desicated coprses, i just wanna use them a leggos...

    are you sure you're married to a SMW?

  13. You have an amazing way of boiling these issues down and Icommend your recommendation. I have seen this exhibit in both Minneapolis and Denver and it truly changed the way I viewed myself. I think it is pure ignorance to not push our understand of ourselves as people and all the wonderful things that means. The machines we are are equally remarkable to the skins we where and understand them in tandem is an opportunity to open and explore a new level of conversation surrounding what it means to be human.

  14. i'm there/here. this is fascinating stuff. the wife, on the other hand, plans to pass (for the common reasons already stated). i never took any anatomy course in college so i'm amped to see some innards.

  15. I attended The Body exhibit in Philadelphia. It was awesome. A little long for my taste but awesome but I am a person that can really appreciate anatomy. I find it hard to believe people would oppose this. Everyone knows someone with a medical ailment and this exhibit doesn't just show plasticated bodies, it shows plasticated disease processes as well so it is extremely interesting and educational for the general population to be able to see these things that they would never in their life get to see and understand. These are the things physicians talk to them and their families about. I think the best exhibit was the pregnant woman who died close to full term or at term pregnancy. They way they have her displayed is like looking at a live anatomy book with the incisional planes. Go see the exhibit. It's good. It's not gross. You can even bring your kids.


Your turn to riff...