Tag: death

There’s a method* in his madness


* J. Karwowski’s Method of Preserving the Dead


Found on an old hard drive. In 1903 a gentleman named Joseph Karwowski (“a subject of the Czar of Russia, residing at Herkimer”, New York) took out a patent on “certain new and useful Improvements in Methods of Preserving the Dead”, to wit encasing them in cubes of glass. He claimed that excluding the air would preserve them “for an indefinite period in a perfect and life-like condition.” The process would involve encasing the body in a layer of sodium silicate which was dry heated to solidify it, then further surrounded by a cube or cylinder of molten glass. Evidently a man of thrifty instincts, he also allowed for the cheaper and less labour-intensive possibility of preserving just the head “if preferred”, Futurama style.

Not that I or anybody else in their right mind is considering actually carrying out this operation, but…

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Ars Moriendi

Ars Moriendi


Ars Moriendi(The Art of Dying) was a book that appeared in many editions across medieval Europe. This image is from a block-book edition, i.e. the words and pictures were each carved on the same wooden blocks instead of the text being set in futuristic movable type.  The demons appear to be tempting the man with visions of a new 1465 model executive horse, a nice hat, a big house with glass in the windows, and a wine cellar… though surely they’re too late if he’s on his death bed already? Step into my office, imps of Satan; your efficiency and the timeliness of your communications are severely lacking.

Seven hundred years on, this is looking a bit Muppety to me and reminding me of Labyrinth, especially the profoundly unscary demons. If David Bowie’s Goblin King get up of tights, codpiece and joke shop wig were shown here, that

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