Thanks to Morbid Anatomy founder Joanna Ebenstein for sending me this photo of a 17th century memento mori mirror from Aargau, Switzerland. The motto on the plinth reads “memorare novissima”, which translates as “remember the last”.
My new article for OnlySky explores the philosophy of radical death acceptance via the nontheistic religion of Cavesword imagined in Gore Vidal’s 1954 novel Messiah, tracing the concept back to the garden-school of Epicurus and then to the bohemian counter-culture surrounding the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam: The humanist point of view is centered on the … Read more“One life: imagining a radical acceptance of death”
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In the days and weeks following the tragic death of actor/comedian Robin Williams in August of 2014, many Boston-area fans paid tribute at the site of one of Williams’ most iconic scenes. His Academy Award-winning performance as therapist Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting (1997) included a moving scene in which Maguire quietly confronts his … Read moreTributes to Robin Williams at the “Good Will Hunting” Bench (Boston Public Garden, 2014)
The next rendition of my Art of Ritual course for the Morbid Academy (the online teaching branch of the popular Morbid Anatomy enterprise) begins on April 20th: The intangible culture of death ceremony became increasingly bureaucratized throughout the Industrial Age, as hospitals, businesses, religious institutions and civic authorities overtook what had previously been intimate, participatory … Read moreThe Art of Ritual: Changing Ways of Life and Death (April/May 2022)
The world is a midway; cities are its sideshows. The only difference between children and adults is that there is no one to take care of us. When we left home it meant we were lost on the midway and, unlike God, the carny boss will only let us ride as long as we pay. … Read more“Carnival Cosmology” by Gary Warne (1977)
Erin Louis writes for OnlySky on the deeper and truer meaning of ghost stories: Ghosts meant that there was a chance that my grandmother would be waiting for me when I close my eyes for good. Maybe even the greatest cat that ever lived, my departed Charlie, would be waiting for me too. Shattering that … Read more“How ghost stories helped me live my life to the fullest”
Rick Snedeker’s article for OpenSky – a newly-launched media platform for secular folk – offers words of wisdom for confirmed atheists in mourning: For us, life is what it finitely is; we’re convinced there’s zero chance for a potentially better sequel in a great beyond. So, carpe diem (“seize the day,” in Latin) is an appropriate motto … Read more“How do I grieve if there’s no afterlife?”
Yale University has made Professor of Philosophy Shelly Kagan’s 26-part lecture series on the topic of death available through their Open Yale program. The lecture How to Live Given the Certainty of Death is perhaps the most germane to my theme on this website, but the entire series offers much of value, especially to people … Read moreProfessor Shelly Kagan on “How to Live Given the Certainty of Death”