After You've Gone


Robin: Bring out your dead! Bring out your dead! 
Lance: Here's one.
Fred: I'm not dead!
Robin: Here, he says he's not dead!
Lance: Yes he is.
Monty Python's Spamalot - He's Not Dead Yet


When your name is Gunther von Hagen, it's a miracle that thunder and creepy music doesn't follow you every step on the way. Especially -when your name is Gunther von Hagen- and your job involves dead people. I mean, this thriller writes itself. If it was a thriller, that is. But unfortunately our dear Gunther indeed is called von Hagen and plays with dead people all the time (but don't feel sorry for him, he's made quite some money off it too...).

Gunther, most probably with evenly superior-named colleagues, has developed a way to preserve dead bodies (through plastination "a method in which the fluid contained in bodily tissues is replaced by reactive polymers (such as silicone rubber) using a special vacuum process") so everyone can go and have a look at them. Yay. Körperwelten or Body Worlds has already been visited by over 40 million -hopefully not dead- people. And, as the site proudly states: "It is the only exhibition in the world to be based on a donor programme". So you, yes YOU, can be a dead body too. Again: yay.


But what is this Körperwelten or Body Worlds you're talking about? Well, my dearest, Body Worlds is an exhibition that shows you preserved dead people so you can take an upclose look on how you most certainly look from the inside. Minus the blood or heart pumping or breathing or basically any sign a body is still alive. I hope. Otherwise, that skinned look is totally doing it for you!

One of the places you can see this exhibition is in Amsterdam. Around the theme of happiness and what this 'sensation' does to our body, you can follow a 'parcour' of dead people who happily will demonstrate it for you (remember: it's run on a donor programme, just make sure you fill in the right form. In some way it would be quite funny when you go and read your grandpa's will. "And? Does he want to get buried or cremated?". "Neither. He wants to get skinned and put behind glass". Surely that will raise some eyebrows. "What was your grandpa like?" "Well you can see it for yourself, he's the second dead body from your right").


I really didn't want to go and see these dead body's for myself. Dead people or dead things in general aren't really my cup of tea (I'd rather have two sugars than two fingers, if ya know what I mean). And I was quite worried it would be yucky (to use a technical term) or just future fuel for nightmares. I mean, a name like Gunther von Hagen can't be trusted to let me sleep peacefully! But all in the name of education (school sended me there. The bastards) I was obliged to take a sneak peak.

I can't say I'm glad I've done it. I could easily have lived without the sight of skinned dead people for the rest of my life. But it wasn't -as I feared- yucky. The best I can say is that it was clean. Very clean. Too clean. Creepily clean. Like, dead people clean. And nobody wants to be dead people clean. Let that heart pump, let that blood flow, because I'm not dead yet!

I'm sure it's very interesting, educational and puts you with two legs back on the ground (and six feet under), but I wasn't floating anyway. I'm not really the kind of type that likes to float and I'm definately not the kind of type that likes to see how I look on the inside. Now that I know that I'm a walking piece of flesh and bones, the whole thing lost a bit of its magic (but gains a lot of I didn't know that looked like that and that worked like that and how is that even possible?!).


Also -just to add- I thought it was quite a poorly exhibition. I was expecting something fancy-pancy and what I got was text printed on regular paper, hearts behind glass and no in depth information. 'Our body likes sugars and that makes us happy. However if you'll eat a lot of sugars you'll get fat and your body doesn't like that and you'll get unhappy'. Deep stuff. The secret behind being happy btw is that you've got to allow yourself to be happy. Easily said than done! AND, just to put something educational in here, it's been scientifically proven that if you'll exercise everyday for 20 minutes (say: walking the dog) you'll be happier (and healthier. Oh, and the dog gets to pee, simultaneously leads to improvement on his happiness-level. Win-win, I'd say).

We -my sister and I- were through it all within 40 minutes, while they say a regular visit is about 1.5 to 2 hours long. Oops.


If bad luck must strike and let you fall, do you want to be skinned and put behind glass or are there other things you'd like to be done with your body? Please don't let me know in the comments below (I already get nightmares just thinking about the concept of death, let alone the death of actual people. Please stay alive! Nay! I hearby command you all to stay alive! You listenin'?!!??).

Love,
Dominique

Comments