Rants of a Weird Little Bird

Random stuff involving myself…and people around me. Hello, and goodbye. :-)

A Visit to Gunther von Hagens’s Body Worlds Exhibition

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PROLOGUE:

One morning, I received a short message from Hui, a friend of mine.

Hi, would you like to go for the “Gunther von Hagens’s Body Worlds Exhibition” at the Singapore Science Centre?

I remembered reading about the von Hagens’s exhibition not too long ago in the newspapers, which mentioned about some postings being removed. Also, I knew that it featured dead human exhibits.

Dr. von Hagens is no stranger to controversy and had been the subject of legal action for some of his exhibits.

Since I was relatively free, I agreed.

As I left the house, I saw a taxi stopped on the right lane, with a police motorcycle behind it. The policeman was interviewing the taxi driver. Not far ahead of the two vehicles, a police hearse was stationary, its lights flashing.

I looked at the three vehicles for quite some time until the bus arrived. Somehow, it reminded me of Keith. I can’t explain why.

END OF PROLOGUE

After purchasing the $20 entrance fee tickets, she and myself had to have our photographs taken at the main entrance of the Body Worlds Exhibition – there’s no escaping it – before entering the exhibit.

The first exhibits involved the initial formation of a baby after egg meets sperm, where cells spontaneously build and multiply into the form of a baby. Preserved foetuses were put up for public exhibition, and some of them were still in ovaries which had been cut open.

I remembered Hui and I speculating on how they had obtained consent from the foetus. Or did the mother give von Hagens permission to have her foetus put up for public display?

Moving on, there were many other exhibitions, one of which featured a dissected human body holding a basketball with one hand. This human body exhibit had its skull sliced open so that visitors could see its brain, and the skin had been removed so that the muscles could be seen in all their glory. I remembered asking Hui how the body managed to maintain its balance in that pose, and how Dr. von Hagens could manage to have a dead body’s arm stretched out horizontally, with a basketball attached to the hand without letting it fall to the ground. She noted that I was not the only one who had such a question.

There was also a substantial gallery of lungs contaminated by cigarette smoke. Was it a case of government propaganda permeating into Dr. von Hagens’s work? Hui remarked that a few controversial exhibits were removed from this exhibition, supposedly of people engaging in sexual intercourse. If the government had told Dr. von Hagens to include more public health services messages, I would not have been surprised, given what had happened to Zunzi’s comic exhibits.

Another of the exhibits which had a deep impression on me was the one which detailed signs of degenerating bone condition due to age. Samples included those of osteoporosis victims.

“My mother has this condition,” Hui whispered to me.

“Well, let’s hope we don’t end up like this when we age,” I replied.

“Must drink more milk,” she said.

“Not too much, though,” I agreed.

Among the other interesting exhibits were those of the blood vessels in a rabbit and cock. Sadly, one of the cock’s feet were detached from the rest of the body. I remembered standing to a side of the floor to see the exhibits more clearly. That part of the floor sounded hollow – it was probably a drain cover or something – and caused the cock exhibit to shake. I immediately stood away at once.

Moving on, there were dissected brains of stroke victims, Alzheimer’s disease victims, choked arteries and dissected hearts. It was extremely fascinating to watch these two organs particularly, for the brain and (particularly) the heart are the two main parts of the human body which no human being can function without. The nerves were also interesting to watch, stretching from the head to the other parts of the body.

Video screens were put across some of the exhibits, and one of them was put near a human exhibit riding on a sleigh. It simulated a blood vessel bursting.

“Cautionary tale,” I said to Hui with a grim smile.

Moving on, we saw several dissected stomachs – one of them had a stomach ulcer, and it was quite hard to believe that the stomach could actually contain contain what we ate. In fact, another human exhibit had its muscles removed to show how all our various organs are positioned in the human body. It was fascinating to see how all these organs actually came together to form each and every one of us.

Near the end of the exhibition, a video demonstrated how cholesterol affected the arteries, and again, it was a cautionary tale on taking one’s body seriously. It was a sobering reminder that “you are what you eat”.

We also managed to see a few dissected penises at the end – and it was also quite fascinating to visualise that a new life could be formed after a man’s sperm and a woman’s body manage to fuse.

Hui and I left the exhibition and were about to claim the photograph we took at the entrance, when she balked at the $20 fee that we had to fork out if we wanted to collect our pictures. We left without it and went to the souvenir shop, which didn’t offer anything noteworthy.

As I left the Body Worlds exhibition, I couldn’t help recalling what I had seen earlier that morning, and the exhibits which I had seen.

Life is short, and wonderful. Ageing brings with it a whole lot of things, like diseases, slowness in physical actions, weakening of bones, and some of my friends claim they hate ageing.

Yet, I keep thinking back to Keith, who was one year older than me five years ago. Now, I am four years older than him.

Perhaps, just perhaps, ageing is a blessing, is it not?

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Written by aweirdlittlebird

February 1, 2010 at 5:19 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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