Friday, March 06, 2009

I was reading that scientists are using cotton candy to grow replacement tissue, pouring a chemical over the flimsy sugar and then dissolving it, leaving a network of tiny tiny channels where the candy's thin strands used to be. And if you line those channels with cells and seed the hardened chunk of chemical with more cells, by the time the science disappears you're left with a piece of tissue complete with blood vessels. Like magic.

But we already knew, you and I, that we had cotton candy wrapped around our bones, soft and sweet and melting in the rain. That it's only the holes we leave behind that are useful for growing new things, that we are more useful when we're leaving even if sweeter when we're not.

It makes me think of Frederik Ruysch and his tableaux, morality scenarios made of baby skeletons posed artfully on a well-preserved liver and surrounded by flowers, a prostitute's skull being kicked by the legs of a baby; grotesque meditations on the transience of life now lost to history. All of them discolored and filled with secret fluids. He made over two thousand of them, enough to fill five rooms of his house, and then he sold them to Peter the Great and left his name to history.

His name, and the organs of thousands.

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