The Vanitas Shrine: Remembering Death and Seizing the Day

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 Shrine: Remembering Death and Seizing the Day

“All that has dark sounds has duende”

Here is the Spanish poet and playwright Federico Garcia Lorca’s mesmerizing 1933 lecture/essay The Theory and Play of the Duende, as translated by A.S. Kline. Some excerpts: Those dark sounds are the mystery, the roots that cling to the mire that we all know, that we all ignore, but from which comes the very substance … Read more“All that has dark sounds has duende”

Death Discussion Games Reviewed

Thanks to the good people at SevenPonds for this detailed article reviewing nine games designed to encourage conversations about the last taboo: Since 2004, when the Bay Area nonprofit¬†The Coda Alliance¬†launched the card game Go Wish, several dozen companies have released games that focus on the heretofore taboo subject of end of life. And while … Read moreDeath Discussion Games Reviewed

Recompose

Katrina Spade’s Recomposition process, which converts human remains into nourishing soil through natural organic reduction, was legalized by the state of Washington on May 21, 2019. Her company is now planning to open the world’s first Recompose Center in Seattle during early 2021. Here’s Ms. Spade’s 2016 TED Talk on Recomposition, offering further details and … Read moreRecompose

The New Danse Macabre at Stamping Ground (2003)

By Tony Wolf Several years after staging The New Danse Macabre in Wellington, New Zealand, I had become part of the regular faculty of the Stamping Ground Festival of Dance and the Action Arts in Bellingen, Australia. Stamping Ground was the brainchild of veteran dancer/ choreographer Peter Stock, who wanted to encourage greater participation in … Read moreThe New Danse Macabre at Stamping Ground (2003)

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

Jim McKenzie’s “Friends with Death”

Artist Jim McKenzie’s process in sculpting Friends with Death is documented here via stop-motion animation. Reimagining the Reaper is important work as we move towards a more thanatopositive cultural outlook. In McKenzie’s vision, eternal Death pauses for a moment, entranced by the transient beauty of life in the form of a turquoise-winged butterfly. If you’d … Read moreJim McKenzie’s “Friends with Death”