After a lecture, David Rieff, perhaps America’s most important writer on humanitarian issues, made this surprising comment: “You’ll never understand how politics works if you don’t understand Anna Nicole Smith.” What could Anna Nicole Smith have to do with politics—or brain scans, for that matter? Abundant clues to the answer could be found on any TV channel that night. There were viewers calling in, recounting their emotional responses to Anna Nicole’s life and death. Most of them were women, mourning her, idolizing her. To others, she was a gold digger, an empty-headed celebrity, a celebrity only because she was a celebrity. Her life and death resonated so profoundly with so many people because she exemplified a remarkable variety of narratives. Those narratives exist outside the body – in our culture – and inside the body – in the very building blocks of our brains. David Rieff was completely right—understanding the importance of Anna Nicole Smith will help us understand politics.