The Happiness Project
Went to see Body Worlds today. €18.oo
Fantastic display on six floors of one of those traditionally narrow Amsterdam buildings, each floor with a different subject. One starts at the top and works their way down. The theme was “Happiness.” A clever idea as the show could easily be a bit morbid, after all these are real, dry frozen bodies of very dead people. There were a lot of teenagers passing though, having an excellent educational moment.
Dry frozen, plastic covered bones, each floor dedicate to a particular area: muscle, organs, etc. Some of the displays were a bit embarrassing. Young girls giggled. Do women always giggle when embarrassed? There is a woman’s tour that goes to the Casa Rosso live sex show across the canal from my hotel window. The lines waiting to get in to the one hour show are long. Giggles echo between the buildings on either side of the canal as tourists wait for admission. I often hear laughter and female screams and shouts coming from inside the show. I have never seen it myself, maybe someday – or not.
A girl called her boyfriend over to look at cut away parts of a vagina and I recalled a line from Cormack McCarthy’s, The Counselor. “Seeing a thing like that changes you.”
I took special interest in the body parts that worry me, knees, and back, arthritis—all that stuff that happens to us as we age. A prostate gland was on display. It seemed so tiny and fragile to be able to cause so much trouble. I learned its original purpose was to help create sperm. After that it spends its days making men miserable. A number of displays dealt with injuries and illnesses. Alzheimer’s for instance – plaque happens. Scary. There was a sliced-in-half, long ways penis with a prosthetic implant. Ak! Another of a broken bone with one of those metal plates screwed into it—almost a foot long with 13 screws to hold it. Ouch. An opened up pair of smoker’s lungs was scary.
There were ongoing movies —blood rushing through veins and arteries—clots. There were free blood pressure test machines. I scored 86/135, a bid high but in the acceptable range. It was that kind of a week.
One various floors there were sidebar comments on happiness, and what causes or prevents it. ‘50% of our availability is hereditary,’ one display read, ‘40% based on decisions we make, and 10% by environment.’ Interesting.
The bottom floor display was a series of photos, 15 international families posed before a table holding a week’s worth of groceries. A placard below informed viewers of the cost. 12 Euros in India, €275 in Netherlands. America was near the top, but not the most expensive.