Out of the Flesh

There is an old English saying that goes "What is bred in the bone will never be out of the flesh". This saying has long been associated with the upper classes and with snobbery. Today, though, we are being led to believe that our genes do in fact govern our destiny.


In the late 19th century, the rise of the eugenics movement was to have wide-reaching effects that continue today. Among other things, theories of 'natural selection' and 'survival of the fittest' have been used to justify the segregation and forced sterilisation of disabled people across the developed world - and their slaughter in the Nazi extermination camps.

The original eugenics movement was dominated by animal breeders, particularly racehorse breeders. Today, research shows that racehorses' speed and racing success bears little or no relationship to their genetic heritage. Ideas of 'good breeding' are best left to dog lovers.


Red and white are the colours which are most closely associated with medicine. In particular, we see the red cross (red crescent) of the volunteer medical services, but the red cross is also used widely simply to symbolise a nurse.

Red and white are colours which reflect the sterility of the medical environment - white sheets, white walls, white bandages etc - and the colour of fresh blood. There is a tension between the red and white - the white is always struggling to contain the red.

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© Ju Gosling aka ju90 2008

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wellcome trust


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