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Thread: Body Worlds

  1. #9
    swords's Avatar
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    We had this same argument going on when Body Worlds was here in St. Paul. Whoever it was that was investigating these claims of impropriety on body acquisitions apparently decided it was on the up and up enough for them or they wouldn't have extended the show another couple months. It eventually became the top grossing (no pun intended) exhibit the museum ever had. At the show they had a booth where you can sign up to have yourself made into a plastinate (display body) when you die. Plenty of people were actually signing up.

    Anatomy has been a touchy subject throughout history, horrifing many, however, without a real grasp of it we'd be doing medicine and surgery in particular, blindly. I really can't grasp why anyone with an interest in anatomy would be against this.

    A fun thing to do at body worlds:
    walk up behind someone who's looking at a display and lightly mummer "help me!" with your mouth closed. lol!

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    herenorthere's Avatar
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    The shows are so profitable that no one involved is interested in finding any, ummm, skeletons in the closet.
    Bruce in CT

    Madness is something rare in individuals but in groups, parties, peoples, ages it is the rule. Friedrich Nietzsche

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    swords's Avatar
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    They (the Chamber of Commerce IIRC) discussed not letting it set up as these objections were raised early. They did the investigation and the show went on. I'm far more against shrine circuses and zoos that abuse living animals than these sorts of things that use cadavers as teaching tools / art.

    Even if they had each person's own diary on display expressing their desire for plastination (ok that would be a little mental no?) or any other documentation people have surreptitiously demanded, I think there would still be vociferous objections to it. I won't say anyone's objections are wrong, only that I don't understand them provided investigations are not finding problems. I don't think it's a money making conspiracy, though I'd certainly like to see it again free!

    Death and it's associated imagery is scary, from medical professionals to the two guys at work who grew up in Buddhist monastery's in Laos. But really there's nothing gross, perverse or "scary" about the whole exhibit. Nor really anything that exudes an essence of death. As they often used to say "The map (the word, idea, concept, item) is not the territory (thing, person, substance, place)". In this instance we could say "The corpse is not the person". In reality these are no longer people but displays, inanimate, unconscious "items". Just like aunt Nessie in the box at the funeral isn't really our aunt Nessie anymore. Our sadness comes from knowing Nessie's consciousness is gone, we will no longer have her insights or receive / transmit emotion with her any longer. It's not so much that her frame is no longer animate, a frame which perhaps actually gave her much physical pain before death. I guess I have a weird view of these kinda things, as usual, so I suppose that shouldn't surprise anyone!

    But unless I see definitive proof that the Body Worlds exhibit is made with unwilling participants / executed prisoners I have to say I support it.. I'm not talking about freelance shows started by Japanese firms that are using dead Chinese. Which I have read about having started up since the original started touring and that's not a good thing giving a bad name to something I think is highly benefitial.


    unserious time:

    "When I die I think I'm gonna will myself to a group of Necrophiliacs.
    Finally for once they'll get a freebie and not have to spend the night digging in the graveyard, just, have at it."

    -David Cross

  4. #12
    白人看不懂 Drosera36's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ktulu View Post
    Out of curiosity Drosera, is your mother a well know published anthropologist? I only ask because I am a grad student in anthropology now and wonder if I have read anything of hers.
    Well I'm not sure if she's well known, but she has written some books. Her name's Ulrike Linke. She made a book called Blood and Nation I think.

    -Ben
    He who can, does. He who can't, teaches. -George Bernard Shaw
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    The name doesn't ring any bells but its been a few years since I had my class on the body and anthropology. It was a fascinating class and I had a strong interest in views of the body etc.

    As for the exhibit I object in some ways to the fact that profit is made. Human bodies are being treated as a commodity no different than mineral specimens in a museum and this I think is a slippery slope. Also if it cant be shown that the bodies were obtained through willing donation I don't think it should be allowed to go on. If society decides that they can take bodies without clear explicit consent then individuals no longer own their own bodies and this is a bad thing to condone to any degree.
    "We're terrible animals. I think that the Earth's immune system is trying to get rid of us, as well it should." - Kurt Vonnegut

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    swords's Avatar
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    As for the exhibit I object in some ways to the fact that profit is made. Human bodies are being treated as a commodity no different than mineral specimens in a museum and this I think is a slippery slope. Also if it cant be shown that the bodies were obtained through willing donation I don't think it should be allowed to go on. If society decides that they can take bodies without clear explicit consent then individuals no longer own their own bodies and this is a bad thing to condone to any degree.
    I agree with the last part, however, I have not seen anything in lieu of facts concerning the misappropriation of the bodies for the Body Worlds exhibit, though plenty of the same rumor circulates every time the exhibit opens and an investigation is started anew. How much "proof" will finally be enough to satisfy people? If no investigation is finding the problems rumored by the opposition, that leaves only my other speculation as to why people oppose this project.

    Much of the objections and rumor aimed at the whole project, I feel, is fueled by superstition based upon some kind of believed innate "holiness" of the human body over the dead bodies of other creatures. What is the quantifiable difference between a dead ape and a dead human? Neither are any longer what they once were, both ARE now simply a commodity to be either buried with pomp and circumstance, sold to hospitals or otherwise processed. Viewed objectively, even in death one finds the unending grindings of economy, regardless of what happens subjectively with the body. One need only to look to see that profiting from corpses of man and beast, in a variety of ways, is not anything new and as any anthropologist should be able to tell you, death-profit (in various forms) goes back many centuries in almost all cultures.

    What is it that makes one form of profit-after-death better than any other? Only our adherence to a subjective "morality".
    A traditional funeral involves dozens of personnel, all whom profit from working on the body, burying or cremating the body, creating the memorial plaque or headstone. A dead ape or human being taxadermied or otherwise used in medical research/organ transplants also effects an exchange of money. "It just seems different somehow", but it isn't really. The dead are still dead and the money is still changing hands.

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    Insufficient evidence to block the exhibit does not mean reasonable evidence that the bodies were obtained through moral means and that peoples rights were not violated in the process. As for the funeral business, that is profit made off of what the individual or the family wanted, not them being made into some circus sideshow spectacle. I also think something you are failing to recognize in this matter is that humanity as whole does not think objectively, but instead uses some form of spiritual belief in matters where human death is involved. I am not saying everyone doesnt think objectively, just the majority of humanity does not but leans on its religion. I am also not implying that this profiting is anything new, but trafficking of live human beings for different forms of slavery is not new either should we just look the other way toward this? The real issue here is that human beings are being turned into commodities to be used to turn a profit, no longer being seen as humans but as merely objects. Should we go back to robbing the graves of Native Americans and those of lesser races? This whole the dead are dead argument just doesnt hold water when you are talking about humans. People have belief systems that hold something about humans to be unique and sacred and if you violate those beliefs in some way through the use of bodies that were not volunteered, then you are hurting living people, likely people who are family members of the deceased. This is a violation of others humanity and thinking that the dead are dead end of story is over objectification and when dealing with people this creates a slippery slope that can be used to justify some scary things.
    "We're terrible animals. I think that the Earth's immune system is trying to get rid of us, as well it should." - Kurt Vonnegut

  8. #16
    swords's Avatar
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    Insufficient evidence to block the exhibit does not mean reasonable evidence that the bodies were obtained through moral means and that peoples rights were not violated in the process.
    True, however as I said before, I don't believe this is some big conspiracy (or agenda) to get everyone plastinated and put on world tour. However, future plastinates are going to be quite numerous if we go by the number of persons signing up after they viewed the exhibit. This part of the debate will be null by the next generation of plastinates.
    What will your feelings be towards the show composed entirely of those who saw the original show and desired to become plastinates after death?

    As for the funeral business, that is profit made off of what the individual or the family wanted, not them being made into some circus sideshow spectacle.
    Have you been to the exhibit? There was no hawker in a big hat, no clowns or fat bearded ladies. It was a science museum exhibit, placed not far removed from the Egyptian mummy and the mummified babies from the South American Indians.
    How much different are the mummy displays than this?
    Is it the fact that the Body Worlds project travels around and is not a stationary exhibit which makes it more distasteful than another permanent installation?
    I am trying to understand other viewpoints on it so please don't take offense to my questions here.

    I also think something you are failing to recognize in this matter is that humanity as whole does not think objectively, but instead uses some form of spiritual belief in matters where human death is involved. I am not saying everyone doesnt think objectively, just the majority of humanity does not but leans on its religion. I am also not implying that this profiting is anything new, but trafficking of live human beings for different forms of slavery is not new either should we just look the other way toward this?
    I don't see the connection with slavery at all. I agree, we are bound by our notions of "morality" over death-profit. I even said so in my post. However when viewed objectively, hard as it may be, there is still death-profit. I'm not saying it's right, I'm making no value judgments at all, merely exposing it. As distasteful as we might think any money being made off death is, no matter how the money is made, it is an occurrence in actuality.
    As far as Body Worlds in particular charging admission, it is a learning experience to go and see it. I viewed it as another study in anatomy. Seeing what I would never otherwise see in my life. It was a large exhibit and certainly transporting the works carefully would not be cheap. As I said, I learned so much by viewing it in comparison to my books and anatomy software, it was certainly worth the price.

    The real issue here is that human beings are being turned into commodities to be used to turn a profit, no longer being seen as humans but as merely objects.
    We live in a western economic system thus we the people have always been nothing but a commodity to make the rich richer, in other words, participating in economy. Whether in work or in death. Perhaps that is a bit too morbid and existential or just plain nihilistic. Sorry about that, but I didn't set it up! lol!

    Should we go back to robbing the graves of Native Americans and those of lesser races?
    See my mention of the Egyptian mummy or mummified South American Indians at the museum. How one sees these sorts of things is up to the individual I guess.

    This whole the dead are dead argument just doesnt hold water when you are talking about humans. People have belief systems that hold something about humans to be unique and sacred and if you violate those beliefs in some way through the use of bodies that were not volunteered, then you are hurting living people, likely people who are family members of the deceased. This is a violation of others humanity and thinking that the dead are dead end of story is over objectification and when dealing with people this creates a slippery slope that can be used to justify some scary things.
    Again, I agree with you on this point. However, in the instance of Body Worlds in particular you are presupposing that the bodies of the exhibit were not legitimately acquired. I too would find that a bad thing, as peoples wishes certainly should be respected. If it were to come out that yes absolutely these people were murdered to become plastinates then, I would certainly be against it as well, I'm not completely heartless over here! lol!
    I was saddened to hear of the cases of the Japanese firms doing their own copy-cat Body Worlds show that the Chinese gov busted up using bodies that were being prepared on farms in the country in rooms of ice blocks, "ghetto plastinates" and not in proper facilities working through proper channels as they say. This sort of black market plastination puts a bad name on something that I feel can be a very educational exhibit.

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