Obituaries editors probably belong by the sea. The cries of seagulls are their music, fading into infinity, and the light-filled sky bursts open like a gateway out of the world. The elderly gravitate there, shuffling in cheerful pairs along Marine Parade or jogging in slow motion past the Sea Gull Café, intent on some distant goal. Their skin is weathered and tanned, as if they have fossilised themselves in ozone to keep death at bay. They wear bright trainers, young clothes. But they have shifted to the shore here, or in Bexhill, or in Eastbourne, as if to the edge of life, and each flapping deck-chair reserves a waiting-place.Ann Wroe, obituaries editor of The Economist, muses on mortality and the sea in the latest correspondent's diary, a series of articles by various Economist writers. You can read the magazine's obituaries here, including a recent one of former obituaries editor Keith Colquhoun. [Ann Wroe previously]
Charles Van Schaick was a photographer in Black River Falls, Wisconsin in the late 19th and early 20th Century. His work was made famous by Michael Lesy in the book Wisconsin Death Trip in which the photographs were juxtaposed with local newsreports of murder, suicide, disease, insanity, animal mutilation and other calamities plus the occasional non-morbid event. Flickr set of photos used in Wisconsin Death Trip. Some of the texts from Wisconsin Death Trip. Robert Birnbaum interviews Michael Lesy about Wisconsin Death Trip and other things. Over 2500 photographs by Charles Van Schaick owned by The Wisconsin Historical Society. [Warning: Some of the photographs are of deceased infants]
I don't know what other people’s first thoughts may be on Monday mornings; but mine, as the jabber of my husband’s radio crawls into my dreams, is “Has anyone died today?” So began a week-long diary by The Economist's obituaries editor, Ann Wroe, which she completed today.