“The To-Be-Forgotten” (1899)

English poet Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) writes of the “second death”: II heard a small sad sound,And stood awhile among the tombs around:“Wherefore, old friends,” said I, “are you distrest,Now, screened from life’s unrest?” II—”O not at being here;But that our future second death is near;When, with the living, memory of us numbs,And blank oblivion comes! … Read more“The To-Be-Forgotten” (1899)

“Audio as the Realm of the Dead”

Audio as the Realm of the Dead was a 2007 site-specific memento mori sound art project by Victoria Estok: Created as a gift to those who recognize Roosevelt, NJ as their home, this one day sound installation allowed the dead to be heard again and the listener to enter into a realm of shared memory deep … Read more“Audio as the Realm of the Dead”

Artbound: “Día de los Muertos/Day of the Dead”

This episode of the Artbound documentary series considers the reinvention of the Day of the Dead festival in the USA, particularly via the work of the Self Help Graphics community art center in East Los Angeles during the early 1970s. For much more on this subject, I strongly recommend Regina M. Marchi’s 2009 book Day … Read moreArtbound: “Día de los Muertos/Day of the Dead”

“Beyond Memento Mori: Understanding American Religions Through Roadside Shrines”

Here is Allison Elizabeth Solso’s 2015 dissertation on the theme of “vernacular memorials”; the often-temporary shrines constructed by bereaved families and friends at the sites of often-violent deaths. An excerpt: My relationship to these spaces was always confused, even as I did my best to maintain respect and some modicum of decorum. The need to … Read more“Beyond Memento Mori: Understanding American Religions Through Roadside Shrines”

The Vanitas Shrine: Remembering Death and Seizing the Day

By Tony Wolf During late January of 2020 I returned to snowy Chicago from a three-week long vacation and family reunion in sunny New Zealand. During the trip we’d celebrated my mother’s 80th birthday with a surprise party and also received the devastating news of a death in the American branch of the family. At … Read moreThe Vanitas Shrine: Remembering Death and Seizing the Day

The Might-Have-Been 200-Ft. Tall Owl Mausoleum in New York City

Click here to read the Atlas Obscura’s excellent account as to why the New York City skyline is currently lacking an enormous owl-shaped mausoleum. The early 20th century French architect Maurice Guillemot described Andrew O’Connor’s monumental design in these terms: This gigantic bird of night looms up from its pedestal, a startling apparition, enigmatic and … Read moreThe Might-Have-Been 200-Ft. Tall Owl Mausoleum in New York City

The Day of the Dead

Here’s a colorful and cheerful website devoted to El Dia de (los) Muertos, perhaps the world’s most colorful and cheerful thanatocentric celebration. As a child in Wellington, New Zealand during the 1970s, I was hardly aware of Latin American culture other than via Spanish-language segments on Sesame Street. That said, I seem to recall first … Read moreThe Day of the Dead