The Fountain

C. Dale Young

Some things are easy to ignore. Take the liver:

it is so incredibly plain. Believe it or not, the ancient

Egyptians were the first to consider it. They chose

to keep birds as a source of food and developed

systems to fatten them by forced feeding. Believe it

or not, we were not the first to dream up ways

to capitalize on the natural world. The French,

as one would guess if taking an examination,

were the ones to refine this forced feeding.

Is there anything the French have not refined?

They created guidelines for what they named gavage:

a goose is force-fed three times a day for seventeen days.

Ninety-five days later, the goose is slaughtered,

its liver now transformed into foie gras.

Apparently, there are many steps required

to create luxury. So plain, the ordinary liver.

I say the liver is miraculous, almost mythic.

One can remove 70% of it and the remaining

tissue will regenerate the entirety of the organ.

Can the brain do that? No. I am thinking

about the liver today because I sometimes like to

examine things others overlook. It is a kind of fetish.

The liver makes proteins, removes toxins from our blood.

It is a goddamned hard-working organ.

So today, I praise it, I thank it, I relish it. I wish I had

paid more attention to it. As a young man

in Gross Anatomy, I spent a week studying

and dissecting the heart. But we were given

very little time to remove the liver, catalog its

different lobes, and detail its blood supply.

Herodotus introduced us to the concept

of the Fountain of Youth. And for centuries, men

dreamed of finding it. But it was there

within us the entire time. The Liver. Examine

any nonagenarian and you will find they all have

highly-functioning livers capable of removing

the poisons produced by life. It turns out

the chemistry of living, the byproducts of living,

are the very things that eventually kill us.


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