Thanksgiving/Day of the Dead in Cicely, Alaska (Northern Exposure, 1992)

The good people of Cicely, Alaska enjoy their eccentric, Day of the Dead-inflected version of Thanksgiving in this scene from Northern Exposure (1992). As explained by Marilyn Whirlwind (Elaine Miles), the indigenous people of Cicely do not regard the orthodox Thanksgiving as a day of celebration. In fact, they carry a lot of anger towards … Read moreThanksgiving/Day of the Dead in Cicely, Alaska (Northern Exposure, 1992)

“The race to optimize grief”

Mihika Agarwal writes for Vox on the rise of AI-assisted grief processing: In the spring of 2023, Sunshine Henle texted her mother. She asked where she had gone, told her that she missed her, and soon received a response: “Honey, I wish I could give you a definite answer, but what I do know is … Read more“The race to optimize grief”

Aubade, by Philip Larkin (Devs, 2020)

A mesmerizing scene from the penultimate episode of Devs, written and directed by Alex Garland. Set in the near-future, the series posits the creation of a quantum computer that can be used to experience any moment of the past or future, and which may bring about the end of reality according to natural law. The … Read moreAubade, by Philip Larkin (Devs, 2020)

“This Halloween, Let’s Really Think About Death”

Elizabeth Bruenig writes for The Atlantic: Halloween is no approximation of the firsthand experience of death. But it does foreground the visceral fear of death (occasionally via viscera itself). And it offers an opportunity to engage playfully with the idea of dying, through community celebration rather than solemn contemplation—or jarring confrontations with violence in headlines … Read more“This Halloween, Let’s Really Think About Death”

Drop Tower Shugendō: a memento mori ritual

I suspect that, had the technology been available, the Shugenja of ancient Japan might well have devised an experience akin to the drop tower towards training themselves to die with grace. As a rider, you have a choice, in the liminal moments before the drop. The drop itself, of course, is happening whether you want … Read moreDrop Tower Shugendō: a memento mori ritual

VR Near-Death Simulation and Memento Mori Rituals (New York City, September 2023)

On the afternoon of September 17th, nine participants gathered in the Morbid Anatomy Library in Brooklyn, NYC to undertake an experiment in ritual space and time, guided by artists Bridget Carey, Tony Wolf and Virgil Wong. The main gates of Green-Wood Cemetery, just a few minutes’ walk from the Morbid Anatomy Library. Note the large … Read moreVR Near-Death Simulation and Memento Mori Rituals (New York City, September 2023)