Saturday, June 09, 2007

Bodies @ OMSI

Body Worlds 3 is edgier than Bodies, which latter I'd seen alone with Londoners, and with close family in Seattle.

Here at OMSI, where Tara and I joined LaJean and her young wards, missing Sam (at a funeral), the texts deal more directly with our attitudes towards death and with the history of anatomy as both an art and a science.

Today, anatomy as a process is done mostly behind closed doors in universities, perhaps on closed circuit television, with no public theater or broadcast channel venues.

But thanks to "plastination of the post-mortal form," the end results of anatomical dissections are once again open to public view, as is the case here, in our local Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, a favorite haunt of mine as a child, since even before it moved to its present location from the original site near the Oregon Zoo.

I hadn't been reading all the newspaper stories, so was surprised by the two camels, a huge adult plus the wee one.

One of the more confrontational exhibits is of a cadaver kneeling over a cross, with the text explicitly thanking the Christian religion for long ago authorizing and recognizing the legitimacy of the practice of anatomy, if carried out within certain guidelines.

That, plus the Renaissance willingness to check past authorities in light of bold, new, original empirical studies, are credited for giving us the practical sciences we rely on today to explain the body's mortality even while occasionally prolonging its ability to host life.

Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) is a sponsor of this exhibit, seeing it as a way to recruit future health sciences professionals, including more computer scientists and engineers.

The exhibit texts mentioned other "memento mori" I'd toured during my boyhood in Italy, such as the Capuchins' charnal house in Palermo, Sicily, and their highly ornate ossuaries in the "bone church" (as I called it) along Rome's Via Veneto, near Piazza Barberini, which Frommer's current on-line guide book unkindly calls "one of the most horrifying sights in all Christendom."

I'm posting this to BizMo Diaries in part because I think of the human body as a "business mobile." Yes, it's recreational too (like an RV), but we're here in mortal form to get some serious work done, is my feeling.

:: in today's paper ::