Tag: funerals

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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Anatomic bombs

Anatomic bombs


As research for something I’m writing, I recently re-read Aldous Huxley’s book The Devils of Loudun (1952), which is a very thorough, sardonic account of the 1630s outbreak of mass nymphomaniac diabolical hysteria instigated by a bunch of “possessed” nuns to get back at an unpopular local clergyman. I hate it when that happens. Nowadays the book is primarily known as the source material for Ken Russell’s salacious 1970s nunsploitation version with Oliver Reed, The Devils. Why this pertains to what I’m writing is not important to relate right now, but among the excellent background material about France in the 17th century is the following section about the general filthiness of things:

“The most grotesque of avoidable mishaps would mar the most solemn occasions. Consider, for example, the case of La Grande Mademoiselle*, that pathetic figure of fun who was Louis XIV’s first cousin. After death, according to…

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