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X is for...

... X-Ray

The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins?
---Edgar Allan Poe

The Gamblers

For most, X-rays are fairly innocuous---at least as far as the procedure goes--- there is of course an added risk of cancer that comes from being irradiated repeatedly (but, what in this world DOESN'T cause cancer?)

So, you're probably asking why would I use X-ray in a blog whose theme is devoted to the morbid/macabre.


First X-ray, hand with rings,
Wilhelm Rontgen's wife
 First off, it is a tad morbid that we can see our insides without being opened up. We are at once presented with all the bits and pieces that make us up and that make up our neighbors and our enemies---we aren't too different when you break everything down on a cellular level. When you're talking about X-rays in terms of broken bones or torn ligaments or other such painful things, we are reminded (when we see the shards of bone pushing through skin) that we are made of a very "breakable" bits. Reminding one of mortality is about the most morbid thing I can think of.

And, second---- it's the letter X...what else am I going to post about?

Like any other great scientific discovery, X-rays were "stumbled" upon. Wilhelm Rontgen, the German physics professor who did the stumbling, came across the process in 1895 while he was experimenting with Crookes Tubes--fancy discharge tubes in which cathode rays (electron beams) were discovered.

Rontgen, in his experiments with this newly discovered ray, wrote a research paper for Wurzberg's Physical-Medical Society Journal--labeling the ray as X, to denote its unknown status, annnnd, the name stuck.

Rontgen began systematically experimenting with the rays, even producing the very first X-ray image of his wife's hand. Upon seeing the image his wife declared, "I have seen my death."  See? Morbid.

Though, there is still something intrinsically beautiful about our own mortality and in the hands of the right artist, the macabre can become art...

Arie van ’t Riet /

Arie van ’t Riet /


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