Archive for ‘Death’

August 2, 2020

Dead Birds

Dani

Dead Birds is a 1963 American documentary film by American anthropologist Robert Gardner (1925-2014) about the ritual warfare cycle of the Dugum Dani tribe in New Guinea. The film presents footage of battles between the Willihiman-Wallalua clan and the Wittaia clan with scenes of the funeral of a small boy killed by a raiding party, the women’s work that goes on while battles continue, and the wait for enemy to appear.

The film’s theme is the encounter that all people must have with death, as told in a Dugum Dani myth of the origins of death that bookends the film. The film uses a nonlinear narrative structure of parallel or braided narrative that traces three individuals through a season of three deaths and one near-death as relayed by an expository voiceover that describes scenes and the thoughts of the film’s protagonists.

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May 23, 2020

Venatio

Marcus Fulvius Nobilior

Venatio [ven-ah-tee-oh] (‘hunting’) was a type of entertainment in Roman amphitheaters involving the hunting and killing of wild animals.

The event was introduced by Roman General Marcus Fulvius Nobilior, who celebrated his Greek campaign in 189 BCE by celebrating games where gladiators would fight lions and panthers. He was possibly inspired by Alexander the Great’s purported pastime of pitting lions against both men and dogs.

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March 25, 2020

Dark Tourism

Chernobyl Tour by Nik Neves

Dark tourism refers to travel to places historically associated with death and tragedy. The main attraction to dark locations is their historical value rather than their associations with death and suffering.

While there is a long tradition of people visiting recent and ancient settings of death, such as travel to gladiator games in the Roman Colosseum, attending public executions by decapitation, and visiting the catacombs, this practice has been studied academically only relatively recently. Travel writers were the first to describe their tourism to deadly places. American political satirist and journalist P. J. O’Rourke called his travel to Warsaw, Managua, and Belfast in 1988 ‘holidays in hell’, or sociologist Chris Rojek talking about ‘black-spot’ tourism in 1993 or the ‘milking the macabre.’

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January 8, 2020

Revolution 9

Helter Skelter

Paul is dead

Revolution 9 is a sound collage that appeared on the Beatles’ 1968 eponymous release (popularly known as the ‘White Album’). The composition, credited to Lennon–McCartney, was created primarily by John Lennon with assistance from George Harrison and Yoko Ono. Lennon said he was trying to paint a picture of a revolution using sound. The composition was influenced by the avant garde style of Ono as well as the musique concrète works of composers such as Edgard Varèse and Karlheinz Stockhausen.

British music critic Ian MacDonald remarked that ‘Revolution 9’ evoked the era’s revolutionary disruptions and their repercussions, and thus was culturally ‘one of the most significant acts the Beatles ever perpetrated,’ as well as ‘the world’s most widely distributed avant garde artifact.’

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February 24, 2019

Legend Tripping

Legend tripping is a name bestowed by folklorists and anthropologists on an adolescent practice (containing elements of a rite of passage) in which a usually furtive nocturnal pilgrimage is made to a site which is alleged to have been the scene of some tragic, horrific, and possibly supernatural event or haunting.

While the stories that attach to the sites of legend tripping vary from place to place, and sometimes contain a kernel of historical truth, there are a number of motifs and recurring themes in the legends and the sites. Abandoned buildings, remote bridges, tunnels, caves, rural roads, specific woods or other uninhabited (or semi-uninhabited) areas, and especially cemeteries are frequent sites of legend-tripping pilgrimages

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June 7, 2018

Swan Song

led zeppelin

The swan song is a metaphorical phrase for a final gesture, effort, or performance given just before death or retirement. The phrase refers to an ancient belief that swans sing a beautiful song just before their death, having been silent (or alternatively, not so musical) during most of their lifetime. This belief, whose basis in actuality is long-debated, had become proverbial in ancient Greece by the 3rd century BCE, and was reiterated many times in later Western poetry and art.

In Greek mythology, the swan was a bird consecrated to Apollo and was therefore considered a symbol of harmony and beauty.

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November 11, 2016

Don’t Mourn, Organize!

joe hill

Don’t mourn, organize!‘ is an expression often incorrectly supposed to be the last words spoken by labor activist and songwriter Joe Hill, who was charged with murder and executed in Utah in 1915. In truth, the expression is part of a telegram sent to Bill Haywood, the founding member and leader of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), in which Joe wrote, ‘Goodbye, Bill, I die like a true blue rebel. Don’t waste any time mourning. Organize!’ It wasn’t Joe’s last telegram; he sent another in which he implored Haywood, ‘Could you arrange to have my body hauled to the state line to be buried? I don’t want to be found dead in Utah.’

Since the death of Hill, the phrase has been used in association with other labor leaders’ deaths. The phrase has also been used in conjunction with a severe defeat and not the death of an individual.

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November 1, 2016

Death From Laughter

chrysippus

Death from laughter is a rare form of death, usually resulting from cardiac arrest or asphyxiation, caused by a fit of laughter. Instances of death by laughter have been recorded from the times of ancient Greece to the modern day. Certain brain injuries can cause pathological, uncontrollable laughter such as infarction of the pons and medulla oblongata.

Laughter can cause atonia and collapse (‘gelastic syncope,’ a short episode of low blood pressure caused by laughter), which in turn can cause trauma. Gelastic seizures, a rare type of seizure that involves a sudden burst of energy, usually in the form of laughing or crying, can be due to focal lesions to the hypothalamus. Depending upon the size of the lesion, the emotional lability (mood swings) may be a sign of an acute condition, and not itself the cause of the fatality. Gelastic syncope has also been associated with the cerebellum.

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February 1, 2016

Survivor Guilt

sophies choice

war by leif parsons

Survivor guilt is a mental condition that occurs when a person perceives themselves to have done wrong by surviving a traumatic event when others did not. It may be found among survivors of combat, natural disasters, epidemics, among the friends and family of those who have died by suicide, and in non-mortal situations such as among those whose colleagues are laid off. The experience and manifestation of survivor’s guilt will depend on an individual’s psychological profile.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders defines it as a significant symptom of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Characteristic symptoms include anxiety and depression, social withdrawal, sleep disturbance and nightmares, physical complaints and mood swings with loss of drive.

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January 9, 2016

Afterwardsness

retroaction

Transference

In the psychoanalysis of Sigmund Freud, afterwardsness is a ‘mode of belated understanding or retroactive attribution of [meaning] to earlier events… [from the German word] ‘Nachträglichkeit,’ translated as ‘deferred action, retroaction, après-coup, afterwardsness.’ As summarized by another scholar, ‘In one sense, Freud’s theory of deferred action can be simply stated: memory is reprinted, so to speak, in accordance with later experience.’

Closely related for Freud to deferred action was ‘deferred obedience’: again, ‘a deferred effect…a ‘deferred obedience’ under the influence of repression.’ Thus for instance Freud explored the different phases of a man’s infantile attitude to his father: ‘As long as his father was alive it showed itself in unmitigated rebelliousness and open discord, but immediately after his death it took the form of a neurosis based on abject submission and deferred obedience to him.’ In ‘Totem and Taboo’ he generalized the principle and ‘depicted the social contract also as based on posthumous obedience to the father’s authority’ — offset at times by its converse, occasional Carnival-like licence such as ‘the memorial festival of the totem meal, in which the restrictions of deferred obedience no longer held.’

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November 23, 2015

Summer of the Shark

shark panic

Sensationalism

The Summer of the Shark refers to the coverage of shark attacks by American news media in the summer of 2001. The sensationalist coverage of shark attacks began in early July following the Fourth of July weekend shark attack on 8-year-old Jessie Arbogast, and continued almost unabated—despite no evidence for an actual increase in attacks—until the September 11 terrorist attacks shifted the media’s attention away from beaches. The ‘Summer of the Shark’ has since been remembered as an example of tabloid television perpetuating a story with no real merit beyond its ability to draw ratings.

In mid-August, many networks were showing footage captured by helicopters of hundreds of sharks coalescing off the southwest coast of Florida. Beach-goers were warned of the dangers of swimming, despite the fact that the swarm was likely part of an annual shark migration. The repeated broadcasts of the shark group has been criticized as blatant fear mongering, leading to the unwarranted belief of a so-called shark ‘epidemic.’

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October 26, 2015

Stampede

five people per square meter by g keith still

A stampede is uncontrolled concerted running as an act of mass impulse among herd animals or a crowd of people. Cattle are particularly prone to stampedes. Any sudden, unusual event can set one off, such as a horse shaking itself, a lightning strike, or even just a tumbleweed. Other species that stampede include elephants, walruses, wild horses, rhinoceros, and humans. Human crushes often occur during religious pilgrimages and professional sporting and music events. They also occur in times of panic (e.g. as a result of a fire or explosion) as people try to get away.

Crushes are very often referred to as stampedes but, unlike true stampedes, they can cause many deaths. They typically occur when members at the back of a large crowd continue pushing forward not knowing that those at the front are being crushed, or because of something that forces them to move. It has been suggested that crowd density rather than size is important, with a density of about four people per square meter beginning to be dangerous, even if the crowd is not very large.

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