The Good Funeral Guide Blog


Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Interesting, isn’t it, the deep instinctive connection so many have with this unquestionably heroic disposal option? Why so?

To cover the body with evergreens, as they do at Crestone — is that euphemistic? Do we need to see the flames dissolve the flesh?



10 comments on “Pyre-omania

  1. Wednesday 6th July 2011 at 6:37 pm

    And before any pedants jump in, as my pedantic wife has pointed out of course I meant wily. That’s what happens when you mention tricksters..

  2. Wednesday 6th July 2011 at 3:01 pm

    Heaven (or whatever) forefend…

  3. Wednesday 6th July 2011 at 12:47 pm

    Gloria, you are so right. I know Jonathan. Honestly, he’d go up like a hay barn in August. Picture Willy Coyote after opening an unexpected birthday parcel. Whoomph!

  4. Wednesday 6th July 2011 at 11:33 am

    Certainly we were once stardust out of fire, as is our world, and maybe that’s partly why we feel so drawn to fire in the darkness, fire in the heavens. Thanks Kathryn, I’d not seen it so clearly.

    ‘Participatory’ is something we’ve been exploring around the GFG, most usefully,and should continue to do so, I think.

    But we should all do our best to keep an eye on Jonathan around 5th November, prevent him from attending Up Helly Aa etc, he has too many interesting things to say to allow him to self-immolate just yet.

  5. Wednesday 6th July 2011 at 9:50 am

    Someone must have done some good work explaining the sway held by fire over the human imagination.

    I love your ‘heroic, participatory and honest,’ Rupert. And your ‘poetic,’ Kathryn. I’d be tempted to lob in a ‘spellbinding’ or ‘enrapturing’ or ‘mesmerising’.

  6. Wednesday 6th July 2011 at 9:04 am

    You are right to link the two Norfolk Boi, I would hope that the town of Lewes might be a place that would get funeral pyres, The whole social life of the town is based around bonfire night. It’s a little glimpse of what English culture could be if it stopped being so self conscious about identity; creative, anarchic, bolshy and very very funny. If there is anyone from Lewes who reads this blog, please show yourself!

  7. Norfolk Boi

    Tuesday 5th July 2011 at 11:26 pm

    A lot of people attend organised bonfire events on November 5th.

  8. Jonathan

    Tuesday 5th July 2011 at 2:22 pm

    ‘Honest’ is the bit that appeals to me. Witnessing and being party to the destruction of the empty shell that, until a few days ago, was one of the most precious things in the world to it’s last owner’s friends has got to go deeper than curtains concealing an almost industrial process behind the scenes, followed by presentation of some ‘ashes’, ie: crushed burnt bones that become another disposal problem.

    As for the medium and the message:

    ‘Soon this space will be too small;
    all my veins and bones will be burned to dust.
    You can throw me into a black iron pot,
    and my dust will tell what my flesh would not.’ (Lhasa) (You can play it at my funeral)

    And just for the record, shoved in my face is precisely where I’d want it – I can understand an urge to throw oneself on the pyre…

  9. Kathryn Edwards

    Tuesday 5th July 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Those evergreens. I’d say:
    * Beauty is a Good Thing
    * The urge to make a gesture (beyond fire-setting) seems quite prevalent
    * The evergreens may contain some aromatic and combustible oils/resins, making their addition perhaps functional as well.

    As for the burning, what I’d add to Rupert’s undeniable ‘heroic, participatory and honest’ is ‘implicitly poetic’, if you believe we are originally born from fire and stardust.

  10. Tuesday 5th July 2011 at 1:37 pm

    Okay Charles, the combination of Star Wars and an open air pyres has lured me in.

    I don’t think that covering the body with evergreens is euphemistic, the whole experience is hardcore enough without shoving people’s faces in it, if you’ll forgive the pun.

    It is undeniably heroic, but also participatory and utterly honest. It is what Marshall McLuhan meant when he said the medium is the message. No need for any further ritual or words.

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