Sunday, November 04, 2007


It is the most mysterious scaffolding of what we are. All we see are the outlying cousins of these deep monsters, teeth and nails, who have some kinship, but not enough. What we are is bred in the bone. Like the battlefields at Ypres and Verdun, the integument covers the carnage beneath. Skin and muscles, fat and gristle hide the stark elegance of the ivory infrastructure. When this elegance is naked and exposed, it inspires horror and shock – we fear the naked skeleton. A break is unthinkable, a crack nigh intolerable; the comminution of a fracture into spikes and shards brings visceral terror.

For we like our bones, smooth and white, full of marrow and living cells, minerals, an ecology all its own. We like them attached and nurtured by the web of blood and fibre that guards them like a wetsuit. We fondle them and carress them without noticing; we rely on them to make our point and firm our actions. Typing would be impossible without out dactylic infrastructure; locomotion would be sluglike and inefficient. The much maligned knee-joint is the compromise solution for a race that walks so much; many have suggested better alternatives, but never one so easily maintained (except in the face of extreme incidents such as non-contact sports made into contact sports).

We are articulate because we are articulated. We are dancers and singers and musicians, magicians and authors and poets, scientists and engineers and technicians, only because the bony frame supports our sloppy organs and the conduits which keep them functional and alive. The bone is the frame from which our tapestry depends, and when all else is gone, it is the last to bid farewell.



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