Bringing Out Our Dead

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Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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15 Responses

  1. Avatar Road Scholar says:

    Having photographs of your deceased loved ones is all well and good. It’s the Weekend at Bernie’s vibe that’s so damn creepy.Report

  2. Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    Not to mention, back then film exposure times was measured in whole seconds. The dead are not inclined to move while the picture is being taken.Report

  3. Avatar North says:

    My Grandmother elected to be cremated and like you as I learned (gradually over the years) all the things involved in the immediate after effect of dying her decision makes clear and perfect sense. Better the swift roar of the cleansing flames and a succinct tasteful urn then all the chemical bubbling and roiling that natural bodily decomposition and burial entails.

    Also maybe it’s just me but the shallow depressions in graveyards give me the creeping heebies. I know it’s mostly just soil settling into the burial shaft but…Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to North says:

      The neighborhood where I grew up was built on land that had been a family farm from the late 18th, and hidden in a wooded area between residential streets there was a family cemetary from the early 19th (I think the latest grave was from the 1840s, but it’s been a while since I was last there). The graves were sunken in, and trees had grown around a couple of the tombstones. That is, the tombstones were embedded in the trunks of the trees. It was basically a horror movie set.Report

  4. Avatar Chris says:

    If you want to sleep at any point in the next week, do not Google “Victorian Post-Mortem Photography.”Report

  5. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    I know it’s not a rational response, but even after a moment taking a picture of myself with a dead relative feels intensely creepy to me.

    Also: Put me in the cremation cue, please.Report

  6. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    Holy crap. This post just made me google something, where I stumbled upon this.Report

  7. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    I think a lot of these photos end up being false and scams. Meaning, the people in them are not always dead. Old photography had really long exposure times and this sometimes required using hidden props to keep people still. You can see one of these if you google for a BBC documentary on The Victorians with Jeremy Paxman. It was essentially a neck brace/stand meant to keep people looking very erect as they sat at desks (a very favorite Victorian photo op because it looks serious and important)Report