Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Consumption and narcissism

Absorbed with grading student papers and exams, I present a shorter than usual chronicle today. While briefer, it will nonetheless be interesting, because I know the subject to be highly controversial and that my comments will leave no one indifferent. Some will applaud my intervention, but others, perhaps a majority, will disagree with me. I nevertheless allow myself this criticism. As I recently wrote a reader of this blog: «If I did not want to be criticized, I need only not publicize my opinions».

Some of us have seen advertising or a newspaper article concerning the «Body Worlds 2» exhibition presented at the Montreal Science Centre, from May 10 to September 16 2007. Thanks to the plastination process, those wishing to do so may now preserve their body indefinitely, and even display it publicly after their death. I agree that it is an innovative and useful technology to train scientists, doctors for instance. However, I have yet to be convinced about the allegedly educational and artistic use proposed; I don't understand why some reporters praise the genius of exhibiting corpses. I see nothing brilliant about exposing artificially preserved human bodies in grotesque postures.

In faculties of Medicine, respect is demanded for bodies donated to science by people wanting to contribute to the advancement of knowledge. Where is respect in such a display of human flesh?

If the consumer society has favoured the emergence of a fundamentally individualistic, indeed selfish, world, we have now reached a summit in narcissism for people who thus display themselves after their death. For those paying to see this gruesome show, it is more appropriate to talk about a voyeurism-like phenomenon. Moreover, it is truly revolting to see some get rich using such dubious methods.

Egocentricity in some, voyeurism or craving for profit in others; it is quite sad to see people thus forgetting human’s divine nature!

I'm eager to read your comments… whether you agree with me or not.

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