Human cadaver dissections have been around for at least as long as the study of medicine. Before Hippocrates, in roughly 400 B.C.E. Greece, a trip to the doctor would likely involve you finding out that your incontinence was being caused by one of the gods, whichever poor god was in charge of the lower intestines and the continence thereof. After Hippocrates, after you died, they could cut your torso open and see, lo and behold, your bathroom troubles were caused not by a feud with the intestine god but by a steady diet of beer and cabbage.
The respect afforded to corpses in the Roman pagan world, however, put a historic damper on dissection as a viable means of studying the human body. Which makes sense, considering their beliefs about the afterlife; if your loved one's life after death depends on him not missing Charon's boat to the underworld, the last thing you want is him stumbling, gold coin for fare in one hand, loose entrails in the other, towards the ferry that will take him away from the world of the living — it seems to be asking for a visit from a rather creepy disemboweled ghost or zombie or what have you. Ignoring a century or two of cremation in the early C.E.s, Roman sacred burial practices, paralleling those in ancient Egypt that you learned about in elementary school, focused on the humanity (and human desires) of the recently deceased.
But point being that human anatomy had a bad millennium-plus between Hippocrates and the early 1200s in Europe, when the regular dissection of recently dead humans came back into fashion with a vigor and zeal you could maybe read as slightly inappropriate, considering the circumstances. Dissections today, or at least any dissection that you'd want to go to, are performed with the kind of sterile precision of any other mildly unpleasant medical procedure, taking the myth and general spookiness out of the ritual altogether. Organs are taken from the torso, prodded a bit, turned over, and returned with a fanfare and glamor rivaling that of a wart removal. The head, hands, and feet are covered in tightly-wound gauze to prevent emotional reactions in onlookers — the face for obvious reasons, and the hands and feet presumably because the deceased's look a lot like your own.
For our twenty-second issue we present "Body," a series of stories, poems, and essays about exactly what you would think. We have stories about self-discovery, about the sexual insides of an orange, and about breaking yourself.
We hope you like it.