It’s a sure sign of decadence when a society treats dead bodies with callousness, mocking cruelty, levity and disrespect.
A recent headline in the New York Times gave evidence of such degradation while suggesting the sort of outrageous parody best suited for “The Onion.”
“CADAVER SEX EXHIBITION IN GERMANY IS CRITICIZED,” noted America’s Journal of Record and then reported on the latest ground-breaking show by the acclaimed artist, Gunther von Haugen. Herr von Haugen previously inspired controversy with his display “Bodies: The Exhibition,” which toured the United States and featured skinned and preserved human remains. His new triumph, “The Cycle of Life,” features actual corpses posed and frozen forever in a variety of simulated sex acts. While some critics in Berlin complained of the exhibit’s “tastelessness,” von Haugen and his supporters insisted that they used only bodies (and body parts) that came from “voluntary donors.”
The notion that any human being would view his own earthly remains so casually that he (or she) would welcome their deployment before gawking strangers as skinned sex toys in an avant garde art exhibit represents an appalling affront to human dignity.
Meanwhile, another (though far less ghastly) fad in the display of corpses illustrates a similarly unhealthy attitude in our own civilization.
A Michigan businessman recently launched a company called “Eternal Image” which encourages customers to journey to the next world adorned with the logo of their favorite baseball team. “Our goal is to take everyday household-brand names and integrate the design into funeral products,” says Clint Mytych. “We want to celebrate a person’s life.”
To facilitate that celebration, Mr. Mytych offers licensed Major League funeral urns, resembling large ceramic jars of baked beans, in which the ashes of the deceased are sealed with a replica of a regulation baseball. The urn rests on its own home plate, complete with the authorized MLB logo, suggesting that the departed has successfully rounded the bases and finally scored in the great beyond, now resting, appropriately, safe at home.