Studying Corpses on a Body Farm ↬

It wasn’t just a smell; it was a force. With the first whiff, I thought, Camembert. But as the golf cart got closer, the smell became sweeter—noxiously sweet. You could call it the smell of death, but really it was the smell of what comes after: an obscene eruption of microbial life. Roc Morin

The title of this post links to an excellent article posted on Vice by Roc Morin. Mr Morin recently visited the Texas State Decomposition Research Facility. As you can imagine, the pictures accompanying the article are almost as descriptive as the language used by the author.

Like most people, I have always had a morbid fascination with death. Primarily this fascination stems from the metaphysical questions related to death… The existence of heaven, my likelihood of going there and, whether I’m still me without a body.

I confess though, I haven’t often thought about what happens to my body after my consciousness no longer needs it anymore. Our society has developed elaborate means of preparing and managing corpses so that before we put them out of sight, they maintain a rigid veneer of normalcy, over the underlying decay.

I am not entirely unfamiliar with dead bodies. For years I worked with the elderly as a caregiver. In this capacity I had to prepare a number of recently deceased individuals for their family to say goodbye. However, this experience was unique, because the body was still warm, almost still alive. Fortunately, I have not had to bury many members of my extended family. My exposure to death in a professional capacity, combined with the fact I have not experienced great personal loss, means that the concept of dead bodies doesn’t carry with it as many overtones of loss and grief as it may for some.

Despite this, I found it oddly disconcerting reading the article from Vice linked above. The author was allowed to take a tour of the Texas decomposition research facility. Firstly, I had no idea this type of place even existed. Secondly.. Yeah, honestly, read the article if you haven’t already.

Leave a comment