Monday, June 29, 2009


Last week, in the pub, my friend Andrew accused me of being a Nazi. I think (although it was late in the evening and my memory of events is unaccountably fuzzy), that he also accused me of being an accessory to the Shoah. All this because I had the temerity to question his view that Bodies Revealed - yet another in the apparently interminable succession of plastinated corpse shows now orbiting the globe - was the greatest evil afflicting the planet today. I can't really remember the gist of his argument, if indeed there was one, but it was something to do with sensationalism, pandering to people's basest instincts, and commercialism run amok. My friend Carl and I tried to make a counter-argument that while purient curiosity might draw people in through the door, there was a good chance that people might come away a little more educated by the workings of the body. But we just got yelled at.

At this point Carl asked whether Andrew had actually seen Bodies Revealed, which of course he had not. I then asked how he knew it was so bad, at which point Andrew became extremely agitated and said (and I kid you not) "I don't know, but I'll know it when I see it" thus unconsciously echoing Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart's 1964 attempt to define obscene material. Anyway, the upshot of all of this is that Andrew and I are now going to the Foxwood's Casino to see "Bodies Revealed" and that Carl (who is an extremely famous writer and really ought to have better things to do with his time) is coming too. Expect a report in a month or so, when I return from a trip to the Netherlands.

1 comment:

  1. Chris, a little OTT.

    To be clear, the "I don't know" referred to not knowing why I felt it was wrong. I was unwilling to fall back on organized religious doctrine for my moral compass. I also think cannibalism is wrong, but not because God says so, and not because you might get sick from eating grandma. "I don't know" why I have this opinion.

    As to never seeing it in person, this is true. But I was positive about this exhibit until I saw the photos of flayed bodies playing tennis, looking at itself in a mirror and conducting an orchestra. I may well have a different opinion when I see it in person. For now, the educational value of this ranks up there with biting heads of chickens. I supposed the latter is educational. You learn how strong teeth are. You learn novel methods for slaughtering prey. . . .

    Lastly, I simply asked where the line was between using a cadaver parts as media for making art and using cadaver parts for making lampshades.

    -- Andrew