In the beginning of the course, I realized that Dr. McCoy repeated one thing more than others almost every day of class. It got me thinking and made me understand the true concept behind it. That one thing was repetition and if you continuously repeat something, it won’t have a chance to die out; make use of it or lose it. This concept carries over to the novel Fortune’s Bones. This book explained and elaborated on the research process that occured on a former enslaved person who went by the name of “Fortune”. Fortune’s body was discovered in a museum in Connecticut and “has been in the town [Mattatuck] for over 200 years”. Research was conducted on the remains by medical experts and newfound information was discovered. The researchers had discovered that Fortune was married, raised children, and had been baptized later on in his life. He and his family lived on a farm and worked for a man known as Dr. Porter. There, they planted/cared for crops and raised different animals. Dr. Porter ended up preserving Fortune’s body instead of burying him because he felt that it could be used for future research purposes. The use of repetition was displayed here by preserving the bones and passing the remains throughout the generations to come for continued research and teaching purposes.
There was a line in the book that caught my attention the most out of all and that was, “You are not your body, you are not your bones. What’s essential about you is what can’t be owned.” Although the book was based off of bones and bodily remains, this line was expressing how people are not just what they’re made of genetically and physically but how they present themselves and act towards others. It’s all about your way of going through life and what you take out of daily situations that makes you, you; your bones don’t do that for you.
It was quite eye-opening to see that one person, who happened to be enslaved, could contribute so much to medical research even 200 years after dying. Fortune lived a hard, rigorous life while still being able to provide for his family; his wife and two kids. Although his remains were taken advantage of and invaded after his passing, Fortune provided a lot of information to medical experts to help society better understand the lives of an enslaved person. It was interesting how you could find out so much about a person 200 years later based solely off their bones and how the remains were left.
The course epigraph of “my job is to notice… and to notice that you can notice” plays into the role of my realization that repetition throughout life does have an impact on society. In Fortune’s Bones, repetition had a vital impact on research tactics and how generations starting 200 years ago until now have had the same understanding as to how Fortune lived, died, and lasted during his afterlife. Dr. Porter was the main source in beginning this repetitive cycle. He began this by leaving the remains for his children and grandchildren to do research and experiments on and allow them to also use the bones as teaching methods for more people to learn from and carry on the “routine” in the continuous years. I believe that this eye-opening experience was vital to my life because I have a better understanding as to how just one enslaved person lived his life and that repetition is a key to getting through life in more than one way. It allows for something to be carried on for generations and never die because if you continue to use something, there’s no way it could ever die off and be lost in the past forever.