The Might-Have-Been 200-Ft. Tall Owl Mausoleum in New York City

Click here to read the Atlas Obscura’s excellent account as to why the New York City skyline is currently lacking an enormous owl-shaped mausoleum. The early 20th century French architect Maurice Guillemot described Andrew O’Connor’s monumental design in these terms: This gigantic bird of night looms up from its pedestal, a startling apparition, enigmatic and … Read moreThe Might-Have-Been 200-Ft. Tall Owl Mausoleum in New York City

Better Place Memorial Forests

18th and 19th century necropolitan models of cemetery design and practice have created problems for us in the 21st century. Notably, cemeteries in major cities are literally running out of space, while those traditional burials that do take place continue to waste resources on a vast scale. In this video, Sandy Gibson of Better Place … Read moreBetter Place Memorial Forests

The Day of the Dead

Here’s a colorful and cheerful website devoted to El Dia de (los) Muertos, perhaps the world’s most colorful and cheerful thanatocentric celebration. As a child in Wellington, New Zealand during the 1970s, I was hardly aware of Latin American culture other than via Spanish-language segments on Sesame Street. That said, I seem to recall first … Read moreThe Day of the Dead

Memento Mori via the Atlas Obscura

The practice of thanatocentric pilgrimage is too often reduced to tacky “ghost tours” and their “true-crime” equivalent. Fortunately, the Atlas Obscura offers this open-ended list of alternative, off-the-beaten-track memento mori destinations, from Harry Houdini’s grave in Queens, NYC to the Shah-i-Zinda Necropolis in Uzbekistan.

Etienne-Louis Boullée’s “Temple of Death”

In this short video, visualization artist Martin Janoušek evokes French architect Etienne-Louis Boullée’s imagined cenotaph for Sir Isaac Newton. Boullée designed the “Temple of Death” in 1785 and while it was never built, his pioneering vision has inspired generations of architects. Here’s further commentary on Boullée’s epic notion of memorial from Professor Erika Naginski of … Read moreEtienne-Louis Boullée’s “Temple of Death”

Make Your Own Memento Mori: Befriending Death with Art, History and the Imagination with Morbid Anatomy Founder Joanna Ebenstein

In July 2020 Joanna Ebenstein will be offering an 8-hour online course in the history, mystery and art of the memento mori: Death is the great mystery of human life. Each of us – barring some medical miracle – will die. Foreknowledge of our own death is a defining characteristic of humanity; the ancient Greeks … Read moreMake Your Own Memento Mori: Befriending Death with Art, History and the Imagination with Morbid Anatomy Founder Joanna Ebenstein

Constellation Park: Columbia University’s DeathLab Imagines the Future of Cemeteries

Picture a gently glowing city of the dead suspended beneath the Manhattan Bridge … It’s a bold and beautiful vision, conjured by Columbia University’s DeathLab project which aims to find creative solutions to a very practical problem. Traditional cemeteries are running out of space; what will we do with our dead?

“Creating Countercultural Memento Mori”

In collaboration with the good people at Reimagine’s Life, Loss and Love Festival, I will be giving an illustrated Zoom presentation on this theme on the evening of May 6th. Here’s the presentation description: “Remember death and therefore seize the day!” It’s an ancient and profoundly simple philosophy, but how can members of the emerging … Read more“Creating Countercultural Memento Mori”