Zadie Smith's done it again: her latest New York Review of Books essay, "Man vs. Corpse," is a gentle, vivid meditation on the impossibility of imagining yourself dead.
Walking corpses—zombies—follow us everywhere, through novels, television, cinema. Back in the real world, ordinary citizens turn survivalist, ready to scale a mountain of corpses if it means enduring. Either way, death is what happens to everyone else. By contrast, the future in which I am dead is not a future at all. It has no reality. If it did—if I truly believed that being a corpse was not only a possible future but my only guaranteed future—I’d do all kinds of [...]
Via Longreads, a piece by Brent Cunningham at Lapham's Quarterly that had me at hello:
In January 1985, Pizza Hut aired a commercial in South Carolina that featured a condemned prisoner ordering delivery for his last meal.
The essay covers many angles of this alternately compassionate, perverse and titillating idea—the paradox of "marking the end of a life with the stuff that sustains it," the plain fact that "eating and dying are universal and densely symbolic human processes." There's of course a lot of great history: in Rome, gladiators were feasted well on the night before the arena, and the Aztecs, as part of a [...]
Today the oldish-and-witchy Tumblr The English Ladye highlights Queen Tomyris, pictured, who reigned in Central Asia around 530 B.C. and apparently "defeated and killed the Persian emperor Cyrus the Great during his invasion and attempted conquest of her country." She also apparently "had his corpse beheaded and then crucified," and then "shoved his head into a wineskin filled with human blood." Furthermore, "She was reportedly quoted as saying, 'I warned you that I would quench your thirst for blood, and so I shall.' " (!)
There's also a type of moth named after her (moth No. 25), although it's not yet clear to me why. Unless these [...]
You may be a totally normal person, and therefore not sit around worrying about how you are going to die. But, as a super, super-pale person who spent one stupid summer in high school blissfully baking herself in a tanning bed at her gym while they piped in Train's "Drops of Jupiter," I have, for whatever reason, become convinced I'm going to get skin cancer.
My dad, who likes to be weird and mysterious, has been claiming for years that "the means of his death have been made known to him" (idk, in a dream, or something?), so he's not concerned about it at all, and my mom is terrified [...]