I threw up in my mouth reading this:
Elsie Saunders told a reporter that her husband, “a World War II and Korean War veteran,” who died of COVID-19 in August, wanted to perform one more act of service, donating his body to “help advance medical science.”
That’s not what happened:
David Saunders’ body ended up in a Marriott Hotel ballroom in Portland, Oregon, where DeathScience.org held an “Oddities and Curiosities Expo.” At the October 17 event, members of the public sat ringside from 9 am to 4 pm—with a break for lunch—to watch David Saunders’ body be carefully dissected. Tickets for the dissection sold for up to $500 per person.
What is DeathScience? It appears to be a fairly thin-on-the-ground attempt to make a few quick bucks “disrupting” curiosity about death. On its website you can buy death “merch,” prepay for courses promised for 2022 to learn “death investigation” and the like. (I’m not sure I’d trust an education provider that offers a one paragraph pitch that ends “The information is taught with professionals…in the field that science.” Maybe I’m an old fart, but how hard is it to proofread less than 100 words?)
Also: soon, they promise, you could sign up for more events like the one in Portland where David Saunders was turned into entertainment.
There’s a hideous tech-bro vibe to the whole enterprise, and every individual involved in this grotesque mockery should suffer as much shame and opprobrium as we all can muster. IANAL and I have no idea if there’s anything actionable here, but I hope there is, and that Mrs. Saunders turns them all into paupers.
I guess I’m a little perturbed by this.
But for all that, the ghastly excuses for people directly involved in treating Mr. Saunders as an oddity are symptoms, not the problem itself.
Late stage capitalism is a social phenomenon. In a place and time when not only everything can be financialized, but it is seen by many as a moral imperative to do so, this is what you get. It seems particularly horrific because of how easy it is to see ourselves in David Saunders: lives we’ve led reduced to a few hours’ bread-and-circus in some chain hotel with a good formaldehyde supplier nearby.
But this is just an indicator of how much we’ve already lost to the idea that all of experience can (and, to many, should!) be financialized, that those who can, should dip their beaks into every shift and turn of daily life, including its end, siphoning off the money to be made by turning each such moment into a transaction.
This wasn’t an explicitly political act by the techbro ghouls. But it is a reflection of our politics, where one party uses all its considerable power to make the world safe for death tourists and every other financial engineer. Not the world I want to live in.
Other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln.
Open thread, and, as an apology–a cat picture or two…
- Tikka shares my opinion of the miscreants in the story above:
2: Champ simply allows us to bask in her pure awesomeness:
Image: detail from Jacopo Tintoretto, St. Rocco in the hospital, 1549