2006-03-27

Seeing Through the Skin

Dreaming on Jorge Luis Borges-styled Infinite Books

by Dr Dan Waniek, MD
Copyright © 2006 danwaniek.org
Susan Standring (Ed.) : Gray's Anatomy: The Anatomical Basis of Clinical Practice, Churchill Livingstone, 2004.
A book you can still dream on... I stopped reading the huge text linearly at the complicated review of angiogenesis. However, I still browse dedicated chapters for their standard, if somehow elaborate descriptions. This book was written and rewritten by a single man, and very young too, at times when Victorian erudition was only in the making. Some authors in the long series of its well parsed editorial list would still like to see that "Gray" continuing in such an established one-man-and-his-lifetime-work tradition. Alas, times have changed beyond recognition. Gibbon, Toynbee, Frazer and Duke-Elder are now merely names to type in the search box for the Google people to improve their machines. And yet, the most recent anatomy texts are dwarfs not even climbing on the shoulders of the likes of Gray, Braus and Testut.
Those "ancient" authors professed ideals of "seeing through the skin structures", "synmorphy" and "mentally reconstructing the living". Today we do all this only with machines... Comprehensive "knowledge representation" seems to have lived a fruitful life and then died in pieces... Exit peace of mind and recollections which built characters. Exit the knowledgeable field of studies. Welcome to scientific obituaries, written using word machines. If Gray himself, or Edward Gibbon, for instance, lived long enough to see this book as an example of the trademark Victorian one-man-one-work style, then things would look differently right now in the field of anatomy. Gray died heroically, after performing an ill-fated autopsy. Institutional "Gray" now collects contributions and copyright royalties. The fifth star, in conclusion, would only be added when that special one-man-one-work clarity, mandatory for all comprehensive book monuments, will eventually be reached again in the institutional "Gray" too.

ISBN : 0443071683, BOBE-1808-REFS-0001, RANK : #22,991, 1627 pages, 39th edition.

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