Cremation busts December 10, 2012Posted by Nathan Hobby in death, Library of Babel.
It is probably not a healthy thing for me to be writing a novel about death, given my preoccupation with it. And why did I google ‘cremation’ just then in the name of research?
I didn’t find quite what I was looking for, but this instead:
Now we can create a custom cremation urn for ashes in the image of your loved one or favorite celebrity or hero, even President Obama!
So you can either have a bust made of a celebrity and store your ashes in that, or a spooky likeness of yourself made to sit forever on the mantlepiece watching your family? Such a strange concept, that you would be interred in the likeness of another, a person you never met. It is bizarre in a folk-religious way, the ultimate outcome of our celebrity worship.
I wish we were better at memorialising. In my novel, Tom contemplates the macabre possibility of preserving people’s heads and having them sit on the mantlepiece. I wouldn’t want that, in case you’re wondering. But I hate the thought of bodies – faces particularly – decaying and lost.
The marble or copper busts of Great Men made in the past seem to me, in some ways, a fitting memorialisation. But these advertised ones are, paradoxically, too realistic (in a tacky way), causing what the nerd from 30 Rock and John Safran inform me is the ‘uncanny valley’.
If I was earlier into my novel, I would have to incorporate these busts, but it’s too late for that.