A Seraphite Shrine from “The Last of Us, Part 2”

The Last of Us, Part 2 is a brutal, epic video game experience, set in a post-apocalyptic America devastated by a fungal infection that transforms humans into monsters. Death runs rampant throughout the grueling game-play, both as inflicted by and upon many of the characters and in terms of motivating a seemingly endless cycle of … Read moreA Seraphite Shrine from “The Last of Us, Part 2”

“Death of Hippie” – October 6, 1967

It is nothing new. We have a private revolution going on. A revolution of individuality and diversity that can only be private. Upon becoming a group movement, such a revolution ends up with imitators rather than participants … - Bob Stubbs, “Unicorn Philosophy” We wanted to signal that this was the end of it, to stay … Read more“Death of Hippie” – October 6, 1967

King Billy’s Funeral (“Knightriders”, 1981)

George Romero’s Knightriders is a messy, eccentric and often quite beautiful celebration of/elegy for the idealistic, bohemian spirit of the 1960s. In this, one of the final scenes, the titular troupe of motorcycle-jousting knights and their friends gather to pay tribute to their fallen “king”, Billy (memorably portrayed by Ed Harris in one of his … Read moreKing Billy’s Funeral (“Knightriders”, 1981)

The Temple: a Sacred Space for Letting Go at Burning Man

Since the year 2000, artists – notably including Temple originator David Best – have created intricate, elaborate and secularly sacred temple art installations as part of the Burning Man festival. Each year’s design is inspired by a different theme, such as the Temple of the Mind (2000), the Temple of Flux (2010) and the massive … Read moreThe Temple: a Sacred Space for Letting Go at Burning Man

France’s Ancient Burial Brotherhood

A short item from the BBC on the Charitable Brotherhood of Saint-Eloi, founded as a response to the 12th century Black Death and still burying the residents of over thirty French municipalities, including the town of Béthune. During the French Revolution, the Brotherhood was officially dissolved, but continued its activity in secret until 1802, where … Read moreFrance’s Ancient Burial Brotherhood

The Thanatorium in “Soylent Green”

The 1973 movie Soylent Green posits a catastrophically polluted and over-populated future society in which suicide is not only legal but encouraged and facilitated by the state. In the New York City of 2022 (according to this fictional timeline), there exist institutions where people can end their lives peacefully and beautifully. In the full context … Read moreThe Thanatorium in “Soylent Green”

The Renaissance Faire Danse Macabre

I have a soft spot for the tradition of Danse Macabre enactments as part of the Renaissance Faire circuit’s grassroots, DIY amusement park vibe. Rather like the modern, American take on the Day of the Dead, that tradition stretches back to the counterculture of 1970s California. The original “Bones Band” was founded by an artist/musician … Read moreThe Renaissance Faire Danse Macabre

“What Does Dying — and Mourning — Look Like in a Secular Age?”

Tara Isabella Burton’s 2018 article for Vox examines the development of funeral and memorial practices in the secular sphere: Zuckerman posits that among the people he’s interviewed for his book research, the desire to have a secular funeral isn’t just about not wanting to affirm the existence of a God or an afterlife that the … Read more“What Does Dying — and Mourning — Look Like in a Secular Age?”