Tuesday, November 10, 2009


now, normally i wouldn't review a book on asher's blog (especially a book i'm not finished reading yet), but as soon as i read this passage tonight i knew it had to go on his blog. in fact, if it weren't such a long quote, i'd put it on the sidebar so everyone could read it whenever. but alas, it's lengthy.

it comes from an amazing book called The Wet Engine by Brian Doyle, who is the father of a remarkable single ventricle boy named Liam. the book is all about the heart, from a physiological point of view, but also from a more metaphorical/spiritual/poetic perspective. i'm only on page 44, and i'm already hooked. (oh, and the name of this post - heartchitecture - is the title of the chapter.) so here you go:

consider the astounding journey your blood embarks upon as it enters the pumping station of your heart. in a healthy heart, a heart that works as it has been designed to work over many millions of years by its creative and curious and tireless and nameless holy wild silent engineer, blood that has been plucked and shucked of its oxygen by the body straggles back into the right atrium, the capacious gleaming lobby of the heart.

this tired blood, dusty veteran of an immense and exhausting journey, shuffles forward to and through a small circular door in the wall, a door with three symmetrical flaps: the tricuspid valve.

this circular door opens into another big room, the right ventricle; but at the very instant the right ventricle is filled to capacity with tired blood the entire ventricle contracts! slamming in on itself, and our tired heroes are sent flying through the pulmonary valve and thence into the pulmonary artery, which immediately branches, carrying blood to the right and left lungs, and there, in the joyous airy countries of the blood vessels of the lungs, your blood is given fresh clean joyous oxygen! gobs and slathers of it! o sweet and delicious air! as much as those heroic blood cells can hoist aboard their tiny cellular ships, and now they resume their endless journey, heading into the marshlands and swamps of the lungs, the capillary beds, which open in the small streams and creeks called venules, which are tributaries of the pulmonary veins. there are four of these magic pulmonary rivers carrying your necessary elixir back to the looming holy castle of the heart, which they will enter this time through the left atrium, whose job is to send it on its quest and voyage and journey to the vast and mysterious wilderness that is You, and to tell that tale of the journeys of your blood cells through the universe of you, would take a billion books, each alike, each utterly different.

- Brian Doyle, in The Wet Engine: Exploring the Mad Wild Miracle of the Heart, pp 16-17

here's the link, for ordering this book on amazon.ca: http://www.amazon.ca/Wet-Engine-Exploring-Miracle-Heart/dp/1557254052/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1257856172&sr=1-1

1 comment:

ChristophersHeart said...

WHERE can I get this book? I would love to read it!