Saturday, May 10, 2008

Without a Trace (Excepting More Pollution)

Things, events, atoms-of-contigency tend to cluster. Statistical bunching, I would suppose.

This is like something from a James Hall novel, specifically Bones of Coral. I only hope that in this strange scheme of body dissolution, the eyes do get dissolved with everything else—which they didn't in the novel. Though even here apparently there's some bone-dust leftover.

Quoting from the article: The process is called alkaline hydrolysis and was developed in this country 16 years ago to get rid of animal carcasses. It uses lye, 300-degree heat and 60 pounds of pressure per square inch to destroy bodies in big stainless-steel cylinders that are similar to pressure cookers.

Together with a recent appearance of a guy on an inventor's program on Australian TV—who patented a coffin with a bottom that opens out, discreetly dumping the shrouded corpse into the grave, out of sight of the grieving mourners—I'm beginning to feel like I'm on the set of Dead Like Me. And, yes, I'm not quite through it yet. Two more episodes to go. Then it's curtains—for the show. A great pity. DLM grew deeper and darker and more twisted as time went on, without letting us lose track of the characters.

One thing occurs to me—and excuse my obvious interest in this, but Bodies is still on my mind and awaiting completion, delayed by the after-effects of moving, though hopefully not for much longer—and that is that if this became legal, hiding the fact that some corpse or other was 'harvested' of choice bits and pieces would become even easier than it is now. For that reason alone—as well as the fact that we're talking serious water-pollution here, what with all those nasty chemicals used.

On the other hand, and I cite: "George Carlson, an industrial-waste manager for the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, said things the public might find more troubling routinely flow into sewage treatment plants in the U.S. all the time. That includes blood and spillover embalming fluid from funeral homes."

Anyway, I am seriously opposed to the practice; and so should you be. It also lacks Greenhouse Effect Consciousness, being very wasteful of energy, just like cremation. That heat and pressure come at an environmental price. And if this disposal method were to become large-scale, we're talking serious Joules being pumped into the already overheated atmosphere.

Besides, and despite the fact that the dead very probably truly and honestly don't give a shit, there's some serious terminal lack of dignity in the procedure. I mean, being cremated is one thing. At least there are ashes that can be buried, or spread across the soil or the waters or wherever the deceased or his or her relations choose to spread the remains over. But the disposal of what amounts to liquid industrial waste is a different affair altogether.

"Liquid waste from cadavers goes down the drain at the both the Mayo Clinic and the University of Florida, as does the liquid residue from human tissue and animal carcasses at alkaline hydrolysis sites elsewhere."

And for once I agree with a religioid.

"We believe this process, which enables a portion of human remains to be flushed down a drain, to be undignified," said Patrick McGee, a spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester.

State Rep. Barbara French said she, for one, might choose alkaline hydrolysis.

Good for you, Mr. McGee; and good riddance to you Ms. French! I think I prefer maggots to liquefaction. At least someone lives off my rotting remains.

You might also consider that the desire for economy--which will very likely be disguised as eco-friendliness by the cupid hypocrites--will no doubt lead to the reuse of dissolution-media, which means that by the time the stuff has been effectively used up, it might hold within it the molecular components of a whole bunch of dead people; or whatever's left of them after they've been 'harvested', or bits and pieces have been 'recycled' or whatever you want to call it. I might be dead one day and not care anymore—a state of affairs I have vowed to avoid if at all possible—but right now I do care and the notion of my molecules being recycled in some pressure cooker with those some random 'other' victim of the practice...

Thanks, but no, thanks.

Lest you're telling yourself that maybe all of this smacks of a certain degreed of morbidity, which it does, I suppose since such thoughts do not qualify as 'wholesome', let me point out that this doesn't make the thoughts any less pertinent. They might not be cheery, but if we only thought about things that cheer us up this world would be a lunatic asylum—well, more than it already is.

So, readers, anonymous and not, allow yourselves your excursions into the morbid. the right does is not only good for the soul, but essential for a balanced character.

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