Earlier this year I went to a fascinating exhibit at the Wellcome Collection (a London must-visit). It was called Death: A Self-Portrait, and it was exactly that, an exhibit dedicated to the myriad ways we handle death. It was far from morbid, in fact I went with my teenage niece and she went back with friends to check it out again. I don't know if it is purely age, but death is on the horizon of my thinking of late. Actually it has nothing to do with age, I am just interested in the ways we have, as a culture, handled death over the course of my life. I had many encounters with death in 2012 and at the start of this year, the church I work at had a spate of funerals over a couple of month period--twelve or thirteen people passed away, most of them expectedly, but dealing with death gets you thinking. I remember in seminary reading Ernest Becker's The Denial of Death, a seminal work, a refutation of Freud on some level arguing that our refusal to face mortality in modern times leads to a less than fruitful existence, so I think I have been thinking about it since then. And of course, there are the skulls, which have fascinated me since my youth--memento mori--(yes, I was one of those types as a teenager-pre-goth, but not in temperament:)).
All of that to say that the latest issue of Lapham's Quarterly magazine is devoted to death. A wode range of essays from Annie Dillard to Lucretius-combined with fascinating art pieces from around the world and from all eras--a great read--full of so much more life than People magazine!!