Deathskool (1976)

My Way of Life and Death draws significant inspiration from the mid-late 20th century American counterculture, which began and flowered (for most practical purposes) in Northern California. Above is a selection of joke courses “offered” by the Communiversity, an experimental San Franciscan free school. The “Deathskool” curriculum is a parody of the type of courses … Read moreDeathskool (1976)

“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”

“The Ghost Racket Crusade”

I was recently interviewed for the popular Criminal podcast on the shady business of the “ghost racket” – the early 20th century scam of using mind games and magic tricks to convince bereaved people that spiritualistic “mediums” could contact the spirits of the dead. Among other things, we discuss the friendship (and then bitter rivalry) … Read more“The Ghost Racket Crusade”

“Day of the Dead” (Eames Brothers, 1957)

Produced by the American designers Charles and Ray Eames, this short film offers insight into the Dia de Muertos festival through the medium of folk art. I’m fascinated by the animated diorama shown at 6.50 in the video, but unfortunately I’ve been unable to find any more information about this type of toy. Notably, none … Read more“Day of the Dead” (Eames Brothers, 1957)

The Death Issue

In the Death Issue of The Nib Magazine, two dozen artists from around the world offer their perspectives on mortality, from a heartfelt and poignant memoir of infant loss to an exploration of the cultural relationship between Halloween and Dia de los Muertos. Here’s a generous assortment of excerpts and below are some sample panels … Read moreThe Death Issue

“The Art of Ritual: Changing Ways of Life and Death” November 2021

I’m pleased to announce the second rendition of the Art of Ritual course, a five-week Zoom-based learning experience hosted by the Morbid Academy. The first rendition sold out quickly and we’ve extended the class-time for course two, running 2 hours rather than 1.5 per class. Here’s some participant feedback from the first course: I loved … Read more“The Art of Ritual: Changing Ways of Life and Death” November 2021

A Pioneering Theosophical Funeral in 1870s New York City

In the first series of his Old Diary Leaves (1874-’78), Colonel Henry Steel Olcott records the events of a Theosophical funeral ceremony he devised and presided over at the Masonic Temple in New York City. The ritual was to mark the life and death of the Baron de Palm, a member of the then-recently inaugurated … Read moreA Pioneering Theosophical Funeral in 1870s New York City