Toad in the Hole

July 03, 2004

Field Trip!

The damnedest show, BodyWorlds, just opened at the ScienCenter in LA. (OK, points off for kreativ spellllinge of the institution.)

I've seen all sorts of reactions to this, well, art? science? communication? ultimate teaching medium? project, but it's another of those things that just hit me where I live, a completely immediate artistic knowledge hit, pow, right in the midbrain. It's a set of interestingly done dissection mounts, formerly live human bodies shot through in various ways with plastics that serve as revealing media. My immediate reaction, after the Wow!, was to look for a way to be a donor myself -- assuming both it and I are longterm projects.

You know that old quote that love casts out fear? Well, in my experience, so does knowledge. I lost all residual fear of spiders when I researched them for a Chronicle piece awhile back. Looking at things from their point of view was just too interesting to go on being all ooky about them. Now I find myself moving those pumpkin orb-weavers around the yard by their web supports when they insist on building onto, say, the car, and watching them grow from orange pinheads to respectable size over the summer.

I've never been very patient with phobias, and that includes my own. I reserve thee right to Just Say No to things I don't want to do, like have my picture taken. I wonder if the EeewwwIckyEEEEEEK! thing isn't often a way to enforce one's preferences without having to own up to being an agent.

So yeah, the other day I repotted a plant on the porch, resident centipede and all, as fearlessly as I could. Gotta work on that one. But they just seem so much more mindless than spiders. Fast, too. Fast and mindless, bad combination. Insert obligatory cellphone-freeway joke here. Still... I did it.

Way back when I was a student nurse, we watched an autopsy by Kaiser Oakland's pathology chief. There were just four or five of us watching, all rather apprehensive, and one of us was sure she'd faint, she was so creeped out. She stood by the door so she could flee, or at least not fall onto the dissecting table -- the very caricature of terror, teeth clenched, eyes all sanpaku, back to the wall, on tiptoe. But this pathologist was a gifted teacher with serious respect for his work (and the subject) and by the time he was finished opening the Y-incision in the guy's torso, she was hanging over the table with the rest of us, utterly fascinated.

Posted at July 3, 2004 12:39 AM