Tomorrow I will be at Winchester University to take part in a three-day interdisciplinary conference focusing on Death, art and anatomy. My talk will focus on memento mori in relation to the Capuchin Crypt in Rome — which, together with other Italian religious ossuaries, I explored in my Mors Pretiosa.
Waiting to tell you more about the event, and about the following days I will spend in London, I leave you with some curiosities to savour.
- SynDaver Labs, which already created a synthetic cadaver for autopsies (I wrote about it in this post), is developing a canine version for veterinary surgery training. This puppy, like his human analogue, can breathe, bleed and even die.
- Even if it turned out to be fake, this would still be one of the tastiest news in recent times: in Sculcoates, East Yorks, some ghost hunters were visiting a Nineteenth century cemetery when they suddenly heard some strange, eerie moanings. Ghost monks roaming through the graves? A demonic presence haunting this sacred place? None of the above. In the graveyard someone was secretely shooting a porno.
- Speaking of unusual places to make love, why not inside a whale? It happened in the 1930s at Gotheburg Museum of Natural History, hosting the only completely taxidermied blue whale inside of which a lounge was built, equipped with benches and carpets. After a couple was caught having sex in there, the cetacean was unfortunately closed to the public.
- In case you’ve missed it, there was also a man who turned a whale’s carcass into a theatre.
- The borders of medieval manuscripts sometimes feature rabbits engaged in unlikely battles and different cruelties. Why? According to this article, it was basically a satire.
- If you think warmongering rabbits are bizarre, wait until you see cats with jetpacks on their backs, depicted in some Sixteenth century miniatures. Here is a National Geographic article about them.
- One last iconographic enigma. What was the meaning of the strange Sixteenth century engravings showing a satyr fathoming a woman’s private parts with a plumb line? An in-depth and quite beautiful study (sorry, Italian only) unveils the mystery.
- Did the terrible “Blood Eagle” torture really exist? Some historians doubt it.
- Adventurous lives: Violet Constance Jessop was an ocean liner stewardess who in 1911 survived the Olympia ship incident. Then in 1912 she survived the sinking of the Titanic. And in 1916 the sinking of the Britannic.
- In China, some barbers still practice the ancient art of eye-cleansing… with a razor.
- Here is my piece about Johnny Eck, the Half-Boy, on the new issue of Illustrati dedicated to vices and virtues.
- Lastly, there is a Wiki page devoted to the most unusual deaths in history.