206 Questions: BHartley

I have been thinking a lot about the readings we did about the perceptions of the body and how they change throughout history (the example that inevitably comes to mind is the image of the sperm holding a bouquet of flowers out to the egg, demonstrating the thinking that the egg has agency over which sperm it chooses to merge with. I found this notion of the changing nature of the body rather odd as I was doing the readings. The big issue I had was the fact that there is empirical evidence that the body is a constant, unchanging form right in front of us as a society: the skeleton.

After all, skeletons have been around forever, there’s evidence all over the place; in paintings, literature, and particularly pivotal moment in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Trying to reconcile the notions of the changing perceptions of the human body with the cold hard evidence that it doesn’t change at all has left me with as many questions as there are bones in the human body, and I think that I might have come up with an answer that might satisfy this reconciliation. While there is an obvious sense that the human body was viewed much differently in the 18th Century than it is now, it might be less of an issue of a physical disconnect, but more of the separation between body and mind that 17th Century Philosopher Rene Descartes was talking about when he said “I think therefore I am.”

What I’m getting at is that it’s not so much that the body has changed in 300 years, but more that the psychological views on the body have changed. It would have seemed that the psychological and physical portrayals of the body would be the same to someone in the 18th Century because the notion that the body and the mind are separate would have been a fairly new idea. I figured that the two pictures of graffiti I found on University Avenue accurately portrayed my thought process.

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