After Life

“The dead are in contact with the living across many cultures; indeed, the two realms are imbricated in a wide variety of superstitious practices (Quigley, 1996, p. 16ff). Pieces of the dead circulate as relics and trophies (Quigley, 1996, p. 247). While attention must be paid to cultural differences, no culture fails to engage its dead in one way or another. Put graphically, in reference specifically to the practice of beheading, ‘‘severed heads always speak, [but] they say different things in different cultures’’ (Janes, 1993, p. 245). The dead communicate to us from monuments and graves, demanding remembrance. Although Michel Serres (Harrison, 2003, p. 21) claims that the first statue was a mummified corpse, I would maintain that, through mummification the corpse becomes something else: a citizen of the dead realm. It signifies a living absence, an emptiness that its mere preservation cannot fill. It connects us to another world through this very absence. It is not in transition from the land of the living; it has arrived in the Underworld,2  and testifies to us about it.”

Baglow, J 2007, The Rights of the Corpse, Mortality, Vol. 12, No. 13, p230, Canada, viewed on the 7th of September 2011.

 

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