I'm very grateful that I've found someone who will allow me to muse about the moral and ethical dilemmas that I find when I visit museums and explore the exhibitions (seeing as it is what I intend to study when I go to graduate school). There is a large debate on the proper handling and displaying of human remains. As I walked through and observed the Mummies of the World exhibition, I was concerned at the way the exhibit designers emphasized the dramatics and mystery of studying mummies. The dim lighting is understandable, as certain light frequencies can damage the delicate remains. What I noticed was the combination of the lighting, the music, and the use of shroud-like fabric to separate the segments of the collection.
It was quite tomb-like. There was a certain creepiness to the atmosphere -- starting with the narration of the introductory video all the way through the end. Yes, there is mystery to mummies, and a certain morbid curiosity which I admittedly possess. But the emphasis on it was too much for me.
Some of the mummies they showed were also quite iffy to me -- particularly the mummies of the human fetuses. I felt that some of the mummies were displayed less for educational purposes and more for spectacle or shock factor. A couple of times I found myself wondering how the person who inhabited the body on display feels about the handling and exhibition. I believe in post-mortal existence, as I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It concerned me that the manner of display was not respectful enough, that it was all for show and dramatics, rather than in the interest of preserving the life and peoples of the past.
I was also frustrated with some of the language of the exhibit, which stated absolutes and information that we supposedly "know" and can derive completely, questions we can answer with certainty. Sometimes the language was not prescriptive; there were instances when the language was ambiguous, phrases like "this may have" and "it is possible." Those are perfect -- it is what museums in general strive for. What is not perfect is stating a fact about something that we cannot possibly know. We cannot presume to interpret meanings from things we really have no idea about. Interpretation is not the focus of current academia.
There are multiple debates going on regarding these issues, including the Native American tribes and the display of those remains and interpretation of artifacts. The same debates are occurring with mummies and other things.
Poor, dear boy -- I think he's getting a better taste of what he's headed in to. But after Saturday, he still seems to love me quite a bit. A bit more than I realized, I think.
I love that man. So very much. How could I not, when he takes me to museums on his free days, treats me to the Cheesecake Factory for lunch, lets me wax philosophical about the moral concerns in my field of study, harmonizes at the table while holding my hands and looking into my eyes, lets me wear his awesome leather jacket, puts up with my outbursts of silliness and OCD-ness at Pixel PlayLand, holds me close to him during church, sits with me when the pain becomes too much, and invites my family to dinner with us so he can get to know them better?
He was very involved in the circuitry boards -- he likes the kind of stuff.
How can I not love him? I submit that it is quite impossible.