His Anatomical Majesty

The fourth book in the Bizzarro Bazar Collection, published by Logos, is finally here.

While the first three books deal with those sacred places in Italy where a physical contact with the dead is still possible, this new work focuses on another kind of “temple” for human remains: the anatomical museum. A temple meant to celebrate the progress of knowledge, the functioning and the fabrica, the structure of the body — the investigation of our own substance.

The Morgagni Museum in Padova, which you will be able to explore thanks to Carlo Vannini‘s stunning photography, is not devoted to anatomy itself, but rather to anatomical pathology.
Forget the usual internal architectures of organs, bones and tissues: here the flesh has gone insane. In these specimens, dried, wet or tannized following Lodovico Brunetti’s method, the unconceivable vitality of disease becomes the real protagonist.

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A true biological archive of illness, the collection of the Morgagni Museum is really a time machine allowing us to observe deformities and pathologies which are now eradicated; before the display cases and cabinets we gaze upon the countless, excruciating ways our bodies can fail.
A place of inestimable value for the amount of history it contains, that is the history of the victims, of those who fell along the path of discovery, as much as of those men who took on fighting the disease, the pioneers of medical science, the tale of their committment and persistence. Among its treasures are many extraordinary intersections between anatomy and art.

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The path I undertook for His Anatomical Majesty was particularly intense on an emotional level, also on the account of some personal reasons; when I began working on the book, more than two years ago, the disease — which up until then had remained an abstract concept — had just reached me in all its destabilizing force. This is why the Museum, and my writing, became for me an initiatory voyage into the mysteries of the flesh, through its astonishments and uncertainties.
The subtitle’s oxymoron, that obscure splendour, is the most concise expression I could find to sum up the dual state of mind I lived in during my study of the collection.
Those limbs marked by suffering, those still expressive faces through the amber formaldehyde, those impossible fantasies of enraged cells: all this led me to confront the idea of an ambivalent disease. On one hand we are used to demonize sickness; but, with much the same surprise that comes with learning that biblical Satan is really a dialectical “adversary”, we might be amazed to find that disease is never just an enemy. Its value resides in the necessary questions it adresses. I therefore gave myself in to the enchantment of its terrible beauty, to the dizziness of its open meaning. I am sure the same fruitful uneasiness I felt is the unavoidable reaction for anyone crossing the threshold of this museum.

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The book, created in strict collaboration with the University of Padova, is enriched by museology and history notes by Alberto Zanatta (anthropologist and curator of the Museum), Fabio Zampieri (history of medicine researcher), Maurizio Rippa Bonati (history of medicine associated professor) and Gaetano Thiene (anatomical pathology professor).

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You can purchase His Anatomical Majesty in the Bizzarro Bazar Collection bookstore on Libri.it.

10 comments to His Anatomical Majesty

  1. gery says:

    Anni fa, lessi il manga di Osamu Tezuka, Black Jack, il cui protagonista era un geniale chirurgo che viaggiava per il mondo curando le malattie congenite e virali, più bizzarre. Non avevo idea all’epoca che quelle malattie fossero reali (credevo fossero frutto della fantasia di quel pazzo di un Tezuka :D). Poi cercando quei nomi su google, ho scoperto il tuo blog. Insistentemente il motore di ricerca, mi conduceva qui. Non mancherò di prendere questo libro, sarà per me un ripasso e un ritorno alle origini.
    Ps: ho capito che non deve essere stato facile scriverlo, ma spero che ora tu stia bene.

  2. sono un accanito frequentatore del museo della Specola a Firenze, e ho la fortuna di vivere vicino a Lodi, sede del meraviglioso, e poco conosciuto, Museo Paolo Gorini.

    Se non conoscete il Museo, credo che una visita in rete sia opportuna 😉

  3. Alessandra says:

    Concordo appieno sul fascino un po’ sinistro che ha “l’anomalia”, da malata di cancro ogni volta che faccio una TAC o un’ecografia mi sorprendo a pensare a quanto sia perfettamente vitale il suo modo di organizzarsi, di quale “altro mondo” ci sia dentro me e di come, se non ne avessi anche paura, io ne rimanga sempre per assurdo ammirata. Leggerti è sempre un viaggio bellissimo come quando da bambini si apre un libro nuovo e tutto il mondo intorno cambia aspetto

  4. Alessia Barresi says:

    La mia biblioteca mancherebbe di quel pizzico di fantastico e meraviglioso se non si fregiasse dei tuoi testi.
    Ovviamente l’ho prontamente acquistato (o prenotato…non l’ho capito in verità).
    Spero che la collana abbia lunga e prospera vita.

  5. cupmallows says:

    un’info che sorge spontanea dopo aver letto il tuo interessantissimo post! ma il museo è visitabile e aperto al pubblico? Online ho letto che apre su richiesta…. spero non ci voglia qualche requisito particolare per effettuare la visita…

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