Tributes to Robin Williams at the “Good Will Hunting” Bench (Boston Public Garden, 2014)

In the days and weeks following the tragic death of actor/comedian Robin Williams in August of 2014, many Boston-area fans paid tribute at the site of one of Williams’ most iconic scenes. His Academy Award-winning performance as therapist Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting (1997) included a moving scene in which Maguire quietly confronts his … Read moreTributes to Robin Williams at the “Good Will Hunting” Bench (Boston Public Garden, 2014)

The Art of Ritual: Changing Ways of Life and Death (April/May 2022)

The next rendition of my Art of Ritual course for the Morbid Academy (the online teaching branch of the popular Morbid Anatomy enterprise) begins on April 20th: The intangible culture of death ceremony became increasingly bureaucratized throughout the Industrial Age, as hospitals, businesses, religious institutions and civic authorities overtook what had previously been intimate, participatory … Read moreThe Art of Ritual: Changing Ways of Life and Death (April/May 2022)

“Carnival Cosmology” by Gary Warne (1977)

The world is a midway; cities are its sideshows. The only difference between children and adults is that there is no one to take care of us. When we left home it meant we were lost on the midway and, unlike God, the carny boss will only let us ride as long as we pay. … Read more“Carnival Cosmology” by Gary Warne (1977)

“How ghost stories helped me live my life to the fullest”

Erin Louis writes for OnlySky on the deeper and truer meaning of ghost stories: Ghosts meant that there was a chance that my grandmother would be waiting for me when I close my eyes for good. Maybe even the greatest cat that ever lived, my departed Charlie, would be waiting for me too. Shattering that … Read more“How ghost stories helped me live my life to the fullest”

“How do I grieve if there’s no afterlife?”

Rick Snedeker’s article for OpenSky – a newly-launched media platform for secular folk – offers words of wisdom for confirmed atheists in mourning: For us, life is what it finitely is; we’re convinced there’s zero chance for a potentially better sequel in a great beyond. So, carpe diem (“seize the day,” in Latin) is an appropriate motto … Read more“How do I grieve if there’s no afterlife?”

Professor Shelly Kagan on “How to Live Given the Certainty of Death”

Yale University has made Professor of Philosophy Shelly Kagan’s 26-part lecture series on the topic of death available through their Open Yale program. The lecture How to Live Given the Certainty of Death is perhaps the most germane to my theme on this website, but the entire series offers much of value, especially to people … Read moreProfessor Shelly Kagan on “How to Live Given the Certainty of Death”

“How to not fear your death”

Aeon editor Sam Dresser offers the Epicurean perspective on life in relation to mortality: Key points – How to not fear your death * The end of your existence is inevitable. The question is whether or not you should fear it.* Epicurus, and many others besides, have argued that there are reasons not to fear … Read more“How to not fear your death”

Shadow Dancing: an Exercise in Shifting Perspectives

The Shadow Dance is an elaboration of the memento mori ergo carpe diem mudra into a whole-body exercise. The original dance was a spontaneous creation of mine during a visit to the Rotokawau/Virginia Lake Reserve in Whanganui, New Zealand, sometime in the early 1990s. My then-girlfriend was a dancer much inspired by nature and although … Read moreShadow Dancing: an Exercise in Shifting Perspectives

“Why Epicureanism, not Stoicism, is the philosophy we need right now”

Professor Catherine Wilson offers a concise argument in favor of the Epicurean perspective: Rightly understood, philosophical Epicureanism is a politically and personally powerful world-view that belies its caricatures. Its key elements are an unflinching refusal to believe that spiritual entities designed, created or control the world combined with the conviction that death and irreversible decomposition … Read more“Why Epicureanism, not Stoicism, is the philosophy we need right now”