Health

Launching “Vitals and Bits” Tomorrow

Better know your body parts

Which one is this?
Which one is this?

Carl Sagan believed that “humans are the stuff of the cosmos examining itself.” This statement of his draws upon a corner of philosophy arguing that human beings are proof that the universe is a conscious entity. Humans are part of the universe, and humans are conscious beings. Ergo, the universe is at least partially conscious.

Consciousness, whether human or otherwise, is a phenomenon that invites endless existential pondering. It’s fair to assume that Sagan thought of human consciousness as an instrument through which the universe comes to know itself. Humans, after all, have struggled throughout history to understand the big wide world of the cosmos. Since we are by definition a part of the cosmos, it’s possible that human consciousness evolved as a mechanism through which the universe can explore itself.

I think this philosophy sounds like a really lovely stoner thought, but I’m not sure I’m buying it. Still, it doesn’t seem so wacky that the universe might be designing living gadgets to help figure itself. After all, we human beings have designed thousands upon thousands of gadgets and instruments to help us unveil the mysteries of our own existence.

We’ve designed little cameras that go up people’s butts in order to explore the human colon. PET scans and CAT scans and MRIs and EKGs and EEGs and a whole host of imaging techniques allow us to peer inside our brainwaves and heart activity and other various biological crevices. We have psychoanalysis and cognitive behavioral therapy and such to help peel back layers of thought, behavior and identity to unearth the nugget of our humanness. We’ve developed the arts to help us express and refine our understanding of the human condition. And now we have reality TV to undo all the millennia of valuable insight that our self-exploration has given us.

Clearly the apple does not fall far from the tree. Human beings are as skilled at self-voyeurism as Madame Universe herself. The endless study of ourselves means that there’s a whole world of information on the body and the mind out there. This wealth of information makes me really happy, given my endless fascination with each tantalizing morsel of the human body, from cortex to crotch.

Which is why I’m pleased to introduce my weekly “Better Know a Body Part” blog series to Alibi readers. Each week, we’ll take a quick, down-and-dirty look at whatever body part I feel like waxing poetic on that week. So if you’re ready to follow the universal imperative to Know Thyself, stay tuned. After all, it’s less traumatizing to learn about your body by reading a blog than by sticking cameras where the sun don’t shine.