I have some very exciting news to report! This evening, my very good friend--and Morbid Anatomy Scholar in residence/Oddities star--Evan Michelson and are absconding to Italy to collect images and data related to a long term project which has long obsessed us both. In Evan's (very eloquent) words:
We will be exploring the social, spiritual, philosophical and material history of the human corpus from the Early Christian period, through the Enlightenment and into the Early Modern Era. This trip will take us to medical museums, ossuaries, cathedrals and burial grounds in several different cities, and it is the culmination of a lifelong obsession on both our parts.So please excuse some predicted silences, and look for reports and updates here! And please, feel free to send suggestions for sites to visit, things to eat, etc. to morbidanatomy[ag]gmail.com.
Italy seems like the logical place to start: home of the Roman Catholic Church and the greatest of the early anatomical artists, it is also the home of the Renaissance - the historical pivot point that brought us from the Dark Ages into the Age of Science. Death in all its mystery has the most profound lessons to impart, and the religious attempt to transcend decay through myth transmuted the body into an object of sensual luxury and splendor. Science reclaimed the corpse, and in doing so gave rise to a different kind of purely mechanical beauty. That transitional moment is the object of our pilgrimage.
Ciao for now!
Image: Ercole Lelli's anatomical waxworks, Bologna, Italy; photo by Joanna Ebenstein