They Existed Before

“The human body is the best picture of the human soul.” – Ludwig Wittengenstein

"I was pretty excited to take my son to the exhibit and then I found out the bodies are REAL people" I said.

"Yeah, so?" said Bob.

"You don’t find that disturbing? A little macabre?"  I queried.

"No, not at all. I think it is fitting and is certainly useful to science"  Bob responded.

"But, Bob, those people, those pieces, parts and bodies were people! They were someones son, someones brother. I heard that they are mostly Asian bodies and there has been a great deal of controversy over the exhibit, particularly in Asia." I continued.

"They were probably derelicts, homeless people, no bodies or better yet, JUST bodies" Bob responds with sarcastic lilt to his voice. "At least in death their life means something, they are educating people. Homeless people, Suz. Get over it."

"And what if they were? What difference does that make?" I asked.

"Suz, they are nobody’s.  No one.  No one probably even knew they were gone.  No one cared." Bob continued

"I refuse to believe that Bob. Those people had NAMES before their bodies were taken for some other purpose. They had families, children, pets, personalities. Someone loved them before they were taken for the good of science or whatever. THEY CAME FROM SOMEWHERE!" I insisted.

"Suz, are you talking about the exhibit now or have you lapsed into adoption again?" Bob asked with a chuckle.

"Whuhh? No,..uh…" I stuttered.


Maybe Bob was right. Maybe my objection to the exhibit that my son wants to visit is indeed rooted in adoption trauma. Transference even in science exhibits?  Am I truly objecting to the use of these no name people in the name of science or am I more upset with the parallels to adoption?

My daughter WAS somebody before she was renamed and remommied. She came from somewhere and had people (at least one person) who loved her. Yet much like the bodies at the exhibit, she was presumed to be a nobody, a nothing, a clean slate that others could mold and use to their own benefit much like the bodies in the exhibit. Their names and family have been wiped from the exhibit just like my name was wiped from her birth certificate.


Maybe it was an adoption issue after all.

5 Thoughts.

  1. That exibit is heading my way later this month, and while I realize that it is somewhat macabre, I’ve been looking forward to it. (However I didn’t know that there was controversy over where how the subjects were obtained…I thought they were individuals that had donated thier bodies to science. I’m naive). Anyway, they are all people. All “somebody”s They do all have stories, and I would like to think that thier lives and stories influenced how they are percieved as this scientific artwork.
    It’s amazing the places we can find adoption connections though, isn’t it?

  2. I really liked the exhibit… although was definitely a little creeped out by those same-ish thoughts. I found myself wondering about their lives, where they came from and (pre-reunion) if maybe I was related to anybody. lol.
    Just be forewarned, I don’t know if it’s the exact same exhibit I saw, but there was a whole room with developing babies and even one still INSIDE its mom… uhh that section set me off like whoa. So maybe be prepared or skip it… otherwise it was def. very interesting… Creepy, but interesting.

  3. J and I had this same conversation! I believe dead bodies are just that…dead. Soul elsewhere. I thought it was an OK thing to do and a great learning experience regarding how amazing the human body is. However, after watching the entire special (forget what show) on the exhibit I can’t say I am 100% convinced of that anymore.
    You’ll have to let us know what it was like if you go.

  4. I would say, that this discussion is related to your humanness. Lots of people I know would have the same argument, lost child of adoption or no. These are human beings, sacred, with feelings, with families, who had hopes and dreams. Poor or no, homeless or no, we have effectively desecrated their bodies and used them for our own purposes. It sounds kind of Nazi like… when they used the skin of Jewish people to make lamp shades.

  5. don’t think i could stomach that exhibit. i thought i might be able to, but i think i’d be haunted for a very long time.

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