Monday, May 07, 2007

Bodies

The March issue of Reason magazine—yes, this is another plug for Reason, the only 'libertarian' magazine worthy of the name in wide circulation—has an article entitled Who Owns Your Body Parts?, which I recommend reading if you're disposed to some fairly sick, albeit banal, reality reminder about the ubiquity of peddlerdom in all walks of life. The difference between the more sensational fictional, usually 'science'-fictional, versions of 'body parts trading'—which invariably involve some elements of what would be called outright and easily discernible 'evil'—and what you'll find here is...well, the sheer banality of it all. It's just an everyday bit of trading for most of those involved, and practiced with an efficiency and apparent indifference to what it is that's being traded that would have done Nazi exterminators proud.

I cannot help but think of Hannah Arendt's 'Banality of Evil' phrase; for though we're talking about matters that are, by and large, 'legal'—in the sense that there are loopholes here you could drive an Imperial Starcruiser through—at another level the thing is...well, despicable. I'm not talking about the act of human-part recycling per se, but how it is done. The notion that this kind of thing should be done doesn't disturb me in any way, but dealing with the corpse of what once used to be a living human being should always be conducted with at least respect. It could be argued that the 'industrialization' of the process really makes it impossible to guarantee that kind of attitude throughout those working in this trade—from the 'cutters' to the actual peddlers—and maybe this is so. Still, the issue is pertinent; and I think, above all, it yet again shows up the dire need for even more intense and focused research into how we can make the reuse of human parts unnecessary; either through the development of technologies using 'artificial' components or else through those derived, ultimately from growing human tissue from the recipient. Unfortunately the fact that the 'recycling' of dead people has become such an accepted practice stalls such research, since research needs money and if people make a whooping profit out of recycling cadavers, where's the incentive to find other alternatives—or even to generally avoid having many cadavers around at all!

Enough said on this sordid subject. Even the otherwise perspicacious writer of the Reason article didn't seem to latch onto the obvious conclusions I outlined above. I wonder why not. Asking the wrong questions, I guess. It's always about that, is it not?

This article thought brought back to me the realization that I have a script lurking on my hard-drive, only half-finished, which dealt with matters related to these issues; only much more obviously evil, for this is, after all, supposed to be fiction. The script was called Bodies, a tentative title, but maybe it's not such a bad one after all. I only got halfway through before I was distracted by more urgent matters, but maybe it's time to pick it up again. I wrote it over two years ago and may sit down and peruse it at leisure to see what there is. Distance in time and perspective may yet make something useful out of it.

Action, thriller or horror? Still trying to figure that one out. I think it was the reason why I haven't come back to it until now. Still, sometimes fate nudges one this way and that, and I wonder if this was one of those proddings.

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