Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Why I Don't Read Non-Fiction:

My latest read is called Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach. The back story of this slightly odd choice of book:

My pottery teacher did a demonstration of a (HUGE) pickle jar a few Thursdays ago for another student (one of my coworkers). The pickle jar looked more like a very large urn. I'd say it was probably a foot tall by 5 inches wide. Our pottery teacher informed us it was too small to be an urn. Obviously we were curious as to how she knew this as she was very matter of fact about the whole thing. Apparently, she had submitted a piece to show that was for urns/containers for remains/whatever you want to call them. Her piece, although rather large, was too small to fit the remains of an entire body so her piece was entered into the keepsake category. Creepy! This sparked a conversation about Stiff and surprisingly someone else had read the book too!

I rarely read nonfiction...I've actually been trying to read less fiction so I thought this book would be a good start. The only problem is, I can't get through it. It's causing alot of problems which leads to me not being able to sleep at night. I'm an overly morbid person....there, I've said it. I think about death alot. Actually, I always have.

I think my obsession is partly due to the fact that I'm a catholic scientist. Kinda like an oxymoron right? I've been raised to believe the teachings of the bible which unfortunately do not jive well with the theory of evolution. It's hard to ignore scientific fact but that is a whole other topic for some other time.

Either way, I don't believe in life after death, reincarnation, etc. As a scientist I need proof to believe what really happens but for obvious reasons that's not possible. Sure, there have been people who have had near death experiences but how do you really know unless you completely cross over. I know what I'd like to believe happens but what I really think happens is frightening. I'd like to believe in heaven but the thought seems way too fantastical.

The first chapter of the book starts out with the author attending a training seminar for plastic surgeons. In the room there are about a dozen heads in metals trays on the tables. Just heads! Apparently these plastic surgeons paid a pretty penny just to be able to practice new face lift techniques on human cadavers. The book details what you can do with your body once you're done with it and what could happen to your body if you choose to donate it to science. You could end up as a crash test dummy. You could be split up and have your body parts sent to multiple destinations for multiple uses. Your foot/leg could be used to test footware for protection against landmines. You can't specify what you want to happen to your body if you're donating it. You could end up just being left outside fully intact but probably naked to help forensic scientists further study the rate/processes of human decay. How about just becoming an organ donor? The possibilities are endless. You can even be composted into your own little tree! I will say, I would prefer a medical student to practice procedures on a human cadaver rather than on me for the 1st time but I won't be donating my body to science. I'd like my body to stay whole, and in the ground!

Oh and if you donate your body to Body Worlds, you could be displayed indefinitely in museums across the world. Plastination is awesome or in my opinion Creepy!

I've only got a few chapters left, so we'll see!

1 comment:

Anna said...

I think about death a lot too. Always have. And I'm sure I'll just stop existing the minute I die. I don't believe in reincarnation or any kind of after-life.

Having said that, I do find it repulsing thinking about my head being on a tray for a plastic surgeon to play with. Or for my foot to try on sneakers. Can't explain why. I don't think I'll be needing my head or foot, but the thought is creepy...