“And this is art, which is so much more cool!” Molly added — though, being half Jewish, she says she’s going to wind up “in a pine box in the ground.”
An hour later, at a press conference, von Hagens stood at a podium, a slender man looking to be in his mid-50s, dressed entirely in khaki and sporting his trademark black fedora, like a cross between Indiana Jones and Dr. Strangelove. Having a harder time with English than his wife, who stood to the side, he was prone to gesticulations accompanying an inspired thought that went unexpressed.
A large woman asked von Hagens if he could make her thinner in the afterlife.
“I can slice you up in thin pieces, if you’d like,” he quipped.
Contradicting Molly’s insight, the doctor insisted that the Body Worlds exhibit was notart, but science (which is largely how they got the local ethics panel to sign off on it). He waxed romantic about Renaissance anatomy, and how plastination was “democratic” for two reasons: It allows the masses to observe what only privileged medics and embalmers have seen in the past, and now, he explained, anybodycan be preserved — not just a princess or a pharaoh. There’s no charge, except for the cost of getting your body to the local embalmer, which the institute refuses to pick up.
Squeaks remain in the machine, the loudest being that though the institute’s contract is good for centuries, the institute itself — a private enterprise — may not last as long as its body parts. Frankly, I’d rather not have a slice of my plastinated midsection being used as a Frisbee by kids in Kyrgyzstan 100 years from now.