Terror Management Theory proposes that humans experience a fundamental psychological conflict between the instinct of self-preservation and the understanding that death is both inevitable and, to some extent, unpredictable; a state described as mortality salience. TMT is based on the pioneering theoretical work of anthropologist Ernest Becker, whose Pulitzer Prize-winning 1973 book The Denial of Death … Read moreSymbolic Immortality and Mortality Sapience
Syrio Forel, First Sword of Braavos (played by actor Miltos Yerolamou) offers an object memento mori ergo carpe diem lesson to Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) in this scene from the first season of Game of Thrones.
In devising Mr. Spock’s famous Vulcan salute (“Live long and prosper”), Star Trek actor Leonard Nimoy was inspired by the Priestly Blessing performed by Jewish Kohanim. This benedictory gesture represents the Hebrew letter Shin (ש), the three upward strokes of the letter being similar to the position of the thumb and fingers in the gesture. The ritual practice of symbolic gestures is … Read moreWhen the Spirit Moves Me: The Mudra of My Way of Life and Death
My Midwinter altar – I think “locus” is actually more apt in this context – is a literal illumination of the vanitas theme, a union of wunderkammer and kamidana (wunderkamidana?) It’s an assemblage of objects whose symbolic meanings are both amplified and made more subtle by their interrelationships. I try my clumsy best to make … Read moreMidwinter Solstice and the Notion of Genius Loci
By Tony Wolf Beginning about thirty years ago, increasingly since my father died in mid-2016 and with great intensity since the start of this year, I’ve been developing an embodied philosophical approach to – and “poetic faith” in -the reality of death and its implications for living meaningful lives. It draws inspiration from aspects of … Read moreMy Way of Life and Death
This evening I returned the last of the leaves from my Autumnal altar, plus the surplus flower stems from my wife’s birthday bouquet, to nature. They will nourish the growth of the tree outside our apartment. A simple and sincere memento mori ergo carpe diem ritual gesture sealed the deal. The flowers themselves, having lost … Read moreReturning
I woke up this morning with a carpe diem image in my mind and set to recreating it via Photoshop. Adapted from artist Totoya Hokkei’s original ukiyo-e print (undated, circa 1780-1850), this montage portrays a torch-bearing flowerskull priest gathering seaweed as he darts between crashing waves.
At midnight on November the first, 2020 – the first of the Days of the Dead in Mexican tradition, the night after Halloween when, according to custom and poetic sentiment, the veils between the worlds are thinnest and magic is possible, I consecrated my newly-assembled totenpass amulet. As I write these words, I can still … Read moreTotenpass