In Animal Sentience this year, Brian Key's "Why fish do not feel pain" provoked over 40 replies, including intriguing comments on tigerfish, rays and cichlids, mormyrids, invertebrates, plants, and robot fish but also comments written or co-authored by people who've been on the blue before: Lynne Sneddon (previously), Antonio Damasio (previously), and Culum Brown (previously). Less controversial threads of related interest include those on animal mourning and insect subjectivity.
Remembering activist Niki Massey (1980-2016). Niki "lived the kind of life that our media and our society like to pretend doesn’t exist; the life of a black, asexual, disabled woman." Her freethought blog, Seriously?!?, among many other things chronicled her disability and her service as a clinic escort. [more inside]
Something*Positive creator R. K. Milholland reflects on learning about the death of his readers.
A moving little essay about the power of food, family, and memory.
The rise of grief policing. The notion that there is but one way to grieve, and that deviation from that way is wrong. Grief policing was on display recently, during the aftermath of David Bowie’s death. Camilla Long, the film critic for The Sunday Times, witnessed the outpouring of emotion posted online as people learned, and tried to make sense, of Bowie’s passing. She did not like the way they mourned. Their grieving, she suggested—or, well, “grieving”—was self-indulgent, and, like so much else on social media, purely performative. “Bowie Blubberers,” she called the grievers. [more inside]
The Final Discworld Book Is Bittersweet For Many Reasons. "The latest Discworld book, The Shepherd’s Crown, doesn’t just have the task of wrapping up the story of Tiffany Aching, trainee witch. It’s also the very last Discworld book, since author Terry Pratchett sadly passed away earlier this year. The good news is, this is a solid ending to both stories." Although Pratchett friend and collaborator Neil Gaiman notes that the story is unfinished (major spoilers in that link!!). Tasha Robinson, writing at NPR, says the book shows us how to mourn Pratchett (spoilers), and Karin Kross at Tor also strikes an elegiac tone in her review. An excerpt is available at NPR, and the book was released in full last week. (Previously) (Also previously.)
Victorian mourning dress embodies black history
"Vancouver artist Karin Jones has made a powerful installation about black history at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.It’s a braided black Victorian mourning dress made from artificial hair extensions used by black women. Surrounding the dress on the floor are cotton bolls that contain the artist’s hair. I’ve only seen images the work online. Even so, I found myself really moved by the way it uses beauty to embody painful truths about slavery and the history of people of African descent in North America."
"A song, a poem, a scene from a film triggers memories. You’re startled, moved, shaken. And you’re faced with two options: 1) engage with the work and the memories it calls up, or 2) retreat, postpone, avoid. Option 2 is very attractive." Matt Zoller Seitz remembers his wife Jennifer, who would have turned 44 today. [more inside]
"Hair work mourning jewelry served as a sentimental and tangible memorial to the deceased. In the late 1700s, hair work started to become professionalized, but tradesmen were soon deemed untrustworthy. Customers would send the hair of a loved one by mail, expecting it to be returned worked into a piece of jewelry. Instead, some tradesmen returned pre-made pieces containing anonymous hair... Some makers even replaced human hair with sturdier horsehair—leaving the jewelry with none of the sentimental attachment Victorian women coveted." [more inside]
The rise and rise of Leonard Cohen’s once-forgotten classic A song of its time and of today.
Guide to buying a top hat - Charles Henry Wolfenbloode gives advice on buying a topper.
A vigil was held today. Some clever social commenters posted an advertisement on Craigslist today. Mourning the end of an enduring and important love story between two much beloved characters. [more inside]
Things Gone By is an antique jewelry dealer specializing in the category of "mourning jewelry"; items worn in memory of the dead, usually involving locks of their hair & other materials. The mourning items are not limited to jewelry, as they also feature a gallery of mourning artwork, again made with the hair of the beloved deceased.
Shut Up! "The EU has requested that member states come to a standstill at noon today to observe a three-minute silence for victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami. Is this just a shallow, belated gesture - or the best way to show our solidarity?" Blake Morrison of the Guardian asks. There's also an interesting "History of Silences" at the end of the article.
An aesthetics of inadequacy. "Despite Aeschylus's statement, 'All knowledge comes from suffering,' all that came from my suffering was suffering." An interview with Alan Shapiro, the author of Song and Dance, about poetry as an attempt of mourning.
Pictures of reactions from around the world. Seeing flags at half staff in other countries really gets to me. What do you think?