“Inventing Farewell: Poetry as a Mortuary Practice”

I taught a course last semester, at Brandeis University, on elegy and contemporary death practices. This humanities practicum was entitled “Inventing Farewell” because every modern generation must re-invent its relations to the dead. It was a pedagogical experiment. The students in this workshop read contemporary poems to discover what they have to offer a modern … Read more“Inventing Farewell: Poetry as a Mortuary Practice”

Tributes to Robin Williams at the “Good Will Hunting” Bench (Boston Public Garden, 2014)

In the days and weeks following the tragic death of actor/comedian Robin Williams in August of 2014, many Boston-area fans paid tribute at the site of one of Williams’ most iconic scenes. His Academy Award-winning performance as therapist Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting (1997) included a moving scene in which Maguire quietly confronts his … Read moreTributes to Robin Williams at the “Good Will Hunting” Bench (Boston Public Garden, 2014)

“Oscar Wilde’s ‘Confraternity of the Faithless'”

My new article for OnlySky Media, Oscar Wilde’s ‘Confraternity of the Faithless’ discusses Wilde’s notion of “agnostic ritual” and its modern interpretation via the Oscar Wilde Temple art installation/secular ritual space: Inspired by the Aesthetic Movement of the late 19th century and subverting traditional Catholic iconography, the Temple evokes a kind of alternative reality in … Read more“Oscar Wilde’s ‘Confraternity of the Faithless’”

The Toxteth Day of the Dead

One of several distinctly English responses to the Dia de Muertos ethos – see also the Glastonbury Festival of Death and Dying – the Toxteth Day of the Dead is an initiative by musicians/culture jammers KLF (a.k.a. the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, the JAMs and the Timelords, among others). Here’s a BBC audio documentary … Read moreThe Toxteth Day of the Dead

Mortem: an Online Residency for Thanatocurious Artists

Mortem is a two-week long, daily online artist residency arranged by Ayatana’s Biophilium: The virtual residency will involve daily live video lectures with international death care and funeral industry workers, historians, biologists and artists on a range of death related topics, one tethered international field trip in a graveyard near you and several short one … Read moreMortem: an Online Residency for Thanatocurious Artists

Alter/Altar (Lower Manhattan, 2019)

Alter/Altar was an experiment in ephemeral public memorial art: It’s said that you’re a New Yorker when that which is gone becomes more real than that which took its place. This event is an homage to hyper-local elements of the city, including but not limited to communication, transportation, personal memory and happenstance. In the wee … Read moreAlter/Altar (Lower Manhattan, 2019)

The Art of Ritual: Changing Ways of Life and Death (April/May 2022)

The next rendition of my Art of Ritual course for the Morbid Academy (the online teaching branch of the popular Morbid Anatomy enterprise) begins on April 20th: The intangible culture of death ceremony became increasingly bureaucratized throughout the Industrial Age, as hospitals, businesses, religious institutions and civic authorities overtook what had previously been intimate, participatory … Read moreThe Art of Ritual: Changing Ways of Life and Death (April/May 2022)

“Carnival Cosmology” by Gary Warne (1977)

The world is a midway; cities are its sideshows. The only difference between children and adults is that there is no one to take care of us. When we left home it meant we were lost on the midway and, unlike God, the carny boss will only let us ride as long as we pay. … Read more“Carnival Cosmology” by Gary Warne (1977)