There was a wind blowing through the zeitgeist of the 1970s, here elegized in the classic folk-rock ballad by Kansas.
English poet Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) writes of the “second death”: II heard a small sad sound,And stood awhile among the tombs around:“Wherefore, old friends,” said I, “are you distrest,Now, screened from life’s unrest?” II—”O not at being here;But that our future second death is near;When, with the living, memory of us numbs,And blank oblivion comes! … Read more“The To-Be-Forgotten” (1899)
Here’s an excerpt from Stefania Spano’s essay for Hektoen International: A Journal of Medical Humanities on the theme of dark humor in memento mori art: Ruysch’s artistry was matched by his commitment to the underlying science and to using the materials of the dead to teach the living. “I do this,” he explained, “to take … Read more“Laughing in the Face of Death: Ruysch, Dark Humor & Subversion of the Memento Mori in Anatomical Art”
By Tony Wolf During late January of 2020 I returned to snowy Chicago from a three-week long vacation and family reunion in sunny New Zealand. During the trip we’d celebrated my mother’s 80th birthday with a surprise party and also received the devastating news of a death in the American branch of the family. At … Read moreThe Vanitas Altar: Remembering Death and Seizing the Day
In a nutshell … A seminal scene from The Dead Poets Society, in which the extraordinary Robin Williams as the extraordinary John Keating imparts the first of many lessons in unorthodoxy, recalling the finitude of life and seizing the day.
Minister, chaplain and essayist Lynn Casteel Harper’s article for the Paris Review compares the earliest known Dutch vanitas painting – Jacques de Gheyn’s Vanitas Still Life – with her own perspective on the condition of dementia: Wisdom here comes lodged in apposition—pairs of apparent opposites, united by the word and: “a time to be born, and a … Read more“Still Life”
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
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”
Dr. Jane Wildgoose’s London memory library/wunderkammer has been described as (…) a place where the heart remembers; where tender connections are made with forgotten feelings; and where the emotive power of the lost rituals of death is explored and interpreted by Jane’s sensitivity and unerring eye for the compelling.’ – Roger Bowdler, ‘World of Interiors’ … Read moreInside the Wildgoose Memorial Library