Festival of the Dead in the UK

This massive touring festival event has been a sell-out smash in the UK for several years, though of course it’s currently on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic. Festival of the Dead offers a cross-cultural mash-up of secular Dia de Muertos-inspired aesthetics with new circus/new burlesque performance styles; not what you’d call “deep” in comparison with … Read moreFestival of the Dead in the UK

Poetic Faith (or, Why Oscar Wilde Declined to Join the London Thirteen Club)

Despite their distinct lack of streaming video options, the ladies and gentlemen of the late 19th century were not short of amusing and instructive pastimes. Late Victorian social media was centered around clubs running the thematic gamut from banal to whimsically outré. During the 1890s, examples of the latter kind ranged from the Whitechapel Club … Read morePoetic Faith (or, Why Oscar Wilde Declined to Join the London Thirteen Club)

The Flowerskull Mask: A Thanatopositive Art Project

By Tony Wolf I recently took part in the month-long online course Make Your Own Memento Mori: Befriending Death with Art, History and the Imagination, which was organized and taught by Morbid Anatomy founder Joanna Ebenstein. This course combines extensive and fascinating weekly readings and viewings, lectures, discussions, art and writing prompts and so-on, towards a “final project” of each … Read moreThe Flowerskull Mask: A Thanatopositive Art Project

Flight From Death: The Quest for Immortality

This acclaimed 2003 documentary was inspired by the also-acclaimed 1973 book The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker. Positing that humans’ awareness (and denial) of their own mortality has been the driving force behind civilization, Becker won the Pulitzer Prize for literature and influenced generations of social anthropologists, philosophers and psychologists.

Flower Skull Marottes

By Tony Wolf Since the late 1990s I’ve been sporadically developing a philosophically rational, ecologically sound and communally festive approach to mortality, inspired by the motto memento mori ergo carpe diem – “remember death and therefore seize the day”. My interpretation of carpe diem encompasses Epicureanism as well as the perspective that a meaningful life … Read moreFlower Skull Marottes

“Have a child, plant a tree, write a book.”

By Tony Wolf I’ve recently been attempting to trace the provenance of this proverb and its many variants. So far, I’ve found it (them) attributed to the Cuban poet José Martí, to the Talmud and to “Arabia”, to Ernest Hemingway, Jonathan Swift, Jeremy Belknap, to Taoism, to Laurence Sterne and to “the religion of the … Read more“Have a child, plant a tree, write a book.”

“What it Really Means to ‘Seize the Day’” (2017)

Fiona Macdonald’s essay for the BBC was inspired by social philosopher Roman Krznaric’s book Carpe Diem Regained: The Vanishing Art of Seizing the Day. The essay and book both touch on numerous sources including the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, the artistic tradition of vanitas painting, the memento mori exercises of Stoic philosophy and so-on, while … Read more“What it Really Means to ‘Seize the Day’” (2017)