by Tony Wolf (originally published via the Atlas Obscura on October 9, 2017) After my father died in mid-2016, the family was faced with a daunting question: “What to do with the collection?” Dad had been acquiring and restoring all manner of curious antiques since the 1960s. His vast collection filled “the studio”—a huge, barn-like building … Read moreDiscovering a Vintage “Spook Show” in my Dad’s Antique Collection
This excellent longform article by Jon Mooallem is unfortunately no longer available via the California Sunday Magazine, so I’ve taken the liberty of reproducing the text here. There’s an ugliness — an inelegance — to death that Paul Bennett gradually came to find unacceptable. It seems to offend him the way a clumsy, counterintuitive kitchen tool might, or a … Read moreDeath, Redesigned
This 2018 article from the Atlas Obscura recalls the bygone age when American cemeteries served as public parks as part of the rural cemetery movement. Echoing the Mexican Dia de Muertos tradition, the cemetery picnic fad continued into the 1920s, when cemetery managers began to ban the practice over concerns about boisterous behavior and littering. … Read moreRemembering When Americans Picnicked in Cemeteries
Designer Kursat Ozenc has produced a series of articles on the newly-defined creative field of ritual design: Part 1: Introducing Ritual Design: meaning, purpose, and behavior change Part 2: How do you design a ritual? The article series continues on Medium.com and Ozenc’s work is also showcased at the Ritual Design Lab website.
“On a deeper level, death is a rich metaphysical stew combining elements of philosophy, psychology, religion, anthropology, and sociology; its close relationship with theories about the afterlife makes the subject yet more intriguing.” Click here to read Dr. Lawrence R. Samuel’s short but insightful article on the past, present and near-future challenges of mortality in a … Read moreDeath, American Style
By Tony Wolf My background is in the entertainment industry as a choreographer and sometime-director, with an extracurricular “minor” in ritual. I’ve always been interested in the intersection of creativity, history and psychology, and in the ways those disciplines play out in public celebrations. I was also deeply dissatisfied with the mainstream modern, Western approaches … Read moreThe New Danse Macabre: How and Why I Created a Death-Positive Performance for a 1998 Arts Festival