King Billy’s Funeral (“Knightriders”, 1981)

George Romero’s Knightriders is a messy, eccentric and often quite beautiful celebration of/elegy for the idealistic, bohemian spirit of the 1960s. In this, one of the final scenes, the titular troupe of motorcycle-jousting knights and their friends gather to pay tribute to their fallen “king”, Billy (memorably portrayed by Ed Harris in one of his … Read moreKing Billy’s Funeral (“Knightriders”, 1981)

The Temple: a Sacred Space for Letting Go at Burning Man

Since the year 2000, artists – notably including Temple originator David Best – have created intricate, elaborate and secularly sacred temple art installations as part of the Burning Man festival. Each year’s design is inspired by a different theme, such as the Temple of the Mind (2000), the Temple of Flux (2010) and the massive … Read moreThe Temple: a Sacred Space for Letting Go at Burning Man

William Archer on the Ethics and Future of Suicide (1893)

During August of 1893, the recent publication of a suicide note by a young Englishman named Ernest Clark sparked an impassioned letters-to-the-editor debate upon the philosophy and ethics of “self-effacement”. A missive by the prominent Scottish writer and theatre critic William Archer outraged those of less bohemian sensibilities – including G. K. Chesterton – by … Read moreWilliam Archer on the Ethics and Future of Suicide (1893)

Lady Maisery’s “Order and Chaos” – a Scientific Folk Song About Death

Hazel Askew, of the folk-group Lady Maisery, on their song Order and Chaos: We have many traditional songs with religious perspectives on death or magical, folkloric perspectives on death, so I wondered if it would be possible to write a song with a scientific, physics perspective on death? Could this be a branch of the … Read moreLady Maisery’s “Order and Chaos” – a Scientific Folk Song About Death

France’s Ancient Burial Brotherhood

A short item from the BBC on the Charitable Brotherhood of Saint-Eloi, founded as a response to the 12th century Black Death and still burying the residents of over thirty French municipalities, including the town of B├ęthune. During the French Revolution, the Brotherhood was officially dissolved, but continued its activity in secret until 1802, where … Read moreFrance’s Ancient Burial Brotherhood

The Thanatorium in “Soylent Green”

The 1973 movie Soylent Green posits a catastrophically polluted and over-populated future society in which suicide is not only legal but encouraged and facilitated by the state. In the New York City of 2022 (according to this fictional timeline), there exist institutions where people can end their lives peacefully and beautifully. In the full context … Read moreThe Thanatorium in “Soylent Green”

The Renaissance Faire Danse Macabre

I have a soft spot for the tradition of Danse Macabre enactments as part of the Renaissance Faire circuit’s grassroots, DIY amusement park vibe. Rather like the modern, American take on the Day of the Dead, that tradition stretches back to the counterculture of 1970s California. The original “Bones Band” was founded by an artist/musician … Read moreThe Renaissance Faire Danse Macabre

The Death Incubator (London, UK)

Here’s a report by Freethink on London’s Death Incubator, a thanatopositive project combining psychotherapy, exposure therapy and virtual reality simulation. The point is made that the VR simulation can’t possibly represent an “accurate” afterlife experience; that it is inspired by religious traditions and near-death experiences, serving as part of a program primarily intended to encourage … Read moreThe Death Incubator (London, UK)