Brendan’s Death Ceremony (“Mary Kills People”, Season 2, Episode 6)

The popular Canadian drama series Mary Kills People centers on the life and work of Dr. Mary Harris (Caroline Dhavernas), who covertly operates an illegal medically-assisted suicide business with her partner Des Bennett (Richard Short). Both are willing to risk their freedom due to their conviction that people should be allowed to end their own … Read moreBrendan’s Death Ceremony (“Mary Kills People”, Season 2, Episode 6)

A Deep Dive Into the Technological and Ritual Interfaces of the Soylent Green Thanatorium

Scifiinterfaces.com offers this series of in-depth articles analyzing the various interfaces shown in the Soylent Green (1973) thanatorium sequence: When considering this model for the real world, we should take great exception to the no-questions-asked expediency seen in Soylent Green. We would want such a service to be slow, deliberative, and life-affirming, with counseling and assistance … Read moreA Deep Dive Into the Technological and Ritual Interfaces of the Soylent Green Thanatorium

“The Contemplative, Unnerving Beauty of the Sandy Hook Memorial”

Jesse Dorris writes for The New Yorker on the newly-unveiled permanent memorial for the six teachers and twenty young children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012: The memorial’s spatial poetics—the balance between circular pathways and blocks of granite, its enduring engravings of names in stone and perennials for texture and color … Read more“The Contemplative, Unnerving Beauty of the Sandy Hook Memorial”

“Start Your Own Religion” (Timothy Leary, 1967)

An excerpt from this classic of the ’60s counterculture: How to Start Your Own Religion First, decide with whom you will make the voyage of discovery. If you have a family, certainly you will include them. If you have close friends, you will certainly want to include them. The question, with whom do I league … Read more“Start Your Own Religion” (Timothy Leary, 1967)

“Burying the Dead Monuments”

Professor Elizabeth Scarborough muses on potential futures for discarded monumental statues: Monuments are objects designed and created intentionally to remind us of something worth honoring. According to J.B. Jackson, “A traditional monument, as the origin of the word indicates, is an object which is supposed to remind us of something important. That is to say, … Read more“Burying the Dead Monuments”

“Inventing Farewell: Poetry as a Mortuary Practice”

I taught a course last semester, at Brandeis University, on elegy and contemporary death practices. This humanities practicum was entitled “Inventing Farewell” because every modern generation must re-invent its relations to the dead. It was a pedagogical experiment. The students in this workshop read contemporary poems to discover what they have to offer a modern … Read more“Inventing Farewell: Poetry as a Mortuary Practice”

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)