Greetings my living and undead friends. As a girl that is naturally drawn to everything that might touch the subject of death and the beautiful arts that surround that I have to tell you about my latest catch.
And by catch I mean desperately waiting for the second edition because I missed the damn first edition and my ongoing expenses on black candles and schnaps kept me from spending 600 bucks on ebay.
Well the day of the second edition came and so I felt like I actually caught a treasure… or actually two because my hurry and weirdness resulted in accidentally buying two books which will come in handy should this book ever sell again for said 600 bucks on ebay…
But long story short. Let me tell you a bit about opening a book that you set so many hopes and feelings in…
I made sure to very carefully get rid of the plastic wrapping so I wouldn’t destroy the beautiful binding with my clumsy hands because that is what you first see and feel. A beautiful book with golden paperedges and a lettering to die for. The crackling noise when you open it for the first time is like a journey back into a time where books were made with love and sweat. But no lettering and no crackling noises could prepare me for what I was about to see.
The Thanatos Archive put together a beautiful, beautiful collection of post- and premortem photography as well as postmortem photography of animals and related ephemera from the Victorian era to the early twentieth century. Mourning was different in these days and from what I felt by only looking at the photographs in this book and reading the little lines and stories that accompany each photograph, it was way more intense but also every picture tells you not only a story of a life but also a story of a society that is used to and surrounded by death every day.
The photos that caught my attention the most were those of dying people. People that are sitting tall and calm in their final hours. The faces that stared back at me from these sites started to haunt my mind. I was not prepared to feel so overwhelmed by this book also I was sure that I would like it. The people from the photographs started to haunt my mind. I started spinning stories in my head about how their lives would have been and what kind of persons they were in the often short times they actually wandered this earth. It was not a bad feeling but the more pictures I studied and the more stories I read the more I felt accompanied by ghosts. And that is in my humble opinion what this book does. It sends you a few ghosts which brings me to the core of what I think mourning could be… an involvement with life, memory and possibilities. An involvement with the history and the lost moments you could have shared with a person. In an age were we seem more and more alienated from our own mortality and dying as well as mourning become a more and more generic process in which we just try to follow the steps of what should be done like choosing a cascet and some nice flower arrangements this book tells a story about loss. Real loss that makes you shiver and reevaluate how you deal with death.
Facts from Amazon:
Jack Mord is the owner and curator of The Thanatos Archive. In addition to post mortem and mourning photography, his eclectic collection of vintage photos includes many examples of the unusual, the rare, and the macabre, and has been reproduced in film, popular television, academic textbooks, illustrated works of fiction and other media. Originally from Los Angeles, he now lives in the Pacific Northwest. A large part of his post mortem collection can be viewed at The Thanatos Archive online.
All photos copyright Ancient Hearts (Sarah), and are not to be reused without her permission.