Dear Guardians: A Burning Man Short Film (2014)

From the creator’s website: In 2011, I stood in the shadow of the Temple of Transition. I taped a photograph of my wife’s recently deceased father to the inside of an archway. I roamed her hallways, silent. I witnessed a beauty that brought me to my knees, as Mike Ventimiglia writes: “I don’t know if I’ve … Read moreDear Guardians: A Burning Man Short Film (2014)

Autumnal Equinox Memorial Altar 2020

I started creating this bookshelf altar during the day and evening of September 22, which was the Autumnal Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. The altar features a colorful scattering of dead leaves gathered during my evening walks, a copper string of white lights, a mirror for self-reflection, an incense holder, a small jar of home-mixed … Read moreAutumnal Equinox Memorial Altar 2020

The New Monuments That America Needs

Hua Su’s recent article for The New Yorker surveys the controversy surrounding public memorial statuary in the USA: That a monument seems to, in Farber’s words, “stop time,” helps explain why so many are eager to defend them from overzealous protesters. We’ve seen pictures of police flanking the Wall Street bull and armed civilians standing guard in front … Read moreThe New Monuments That America Needs

London Month of the Dead

This festival will run throughout the haunted month of October and features a wide range of both live and virtual events, including: THE VAMPIROLOGY OF COVID-19 – The Folklore of Contagion THE MYSTERIES OF THE MAUSOLEA BEAUTIFUL DEATH – Art and the Mystery of Mortality “I HAVE SEEN INTO THE GRAVE” – String Quartets by Beethoven and Shostakovich For … Read moreLondon Month of the Dead

Sherlock Holmes Honors the Dead (“Mr. Holmes”, 2015)

In the climactic scene of Mr. Holmes, the titular detective – aged 93 and very near to the end of his own life – mimics a memorial ritual he had witnessed in Japan to honor the deceased. In the context of this story, the scene has a special poignancy in that it seems to contradict … Read moreSherlock Holmes Honors the Dead (“Mr. Holmes”, 2015)

“Mi’i waw wi’a Law”: How Nell Honors Her Dead

For about a month now I’ve been trying to recall where I’d seen a memorial rite involving placing flowers in a skull’s eye sockets, and today it suddenly came to mind. The 1994 film Nell was based on Mark Handley’s play Idioglossia and stars Jodie Foster as a young woman raised in complete isolation by her reclusive, deeply … Read more“Mi’i waw wi’a Law”: How Nell Honors Her Dead

“What Will Survive of Us”

Here’s author/photographer Geoff Dyer’s meditation on the ghost bike street memorial phenomenon: As well as being part of a web of activist organizations, the ghost bikes can be seen in the context of the ad hoc accumulation of street art generally, from loutish graffiti litter to Banksy’s ironic—now ironically iconic and commodified—stencils, to community-based murals. … Read more“What Will Survive of Us”

“Coronavirus Is Changing The Rituals Of Death For Many Religions”

NPR offers this survey of how the COVID-19 crisis is affecting the funerary rites of a variety of religions: The World Health Organization in its March 24 guidance on burials of COVID-19 victims says dead bodies are generally not infectious. But its recommendations that relatives not touch or kiss the body and government rules on social distancing … Read more“Coronavirus Is Changing The Rituals Of Death For Many Religions”