Campo Giovanni e Paolo Santissimi, Venice, (osm)

Of course such a topic can’t go by without reference to German author Thomas Mann’s novella ‘Dead in Venice’ and its later adaptions by Visconti or, lesser known, Benjamin Britten. The writer’s block, that is one of the main topics of the novel, is certainly something most photographers know in our passion’s typical implementation. But the times have changed, the erotic passion that Thomas Mann describes in his main character, is not the typical fuel for nowaday’s artists any more. And as homoerotic tendencies have long lost their exotic appeal, this puts the plot of the novel clearly and exclusively in its historic context. But the medieval “Memento Mori” certainly still has its importance, in our contemporary fun society, following more or less the ‘anything goes’ paradigm, maybe even more. And whilst I have no inclination to try still lifes with a skull, subjects as this one exert a specific attraction.

Memento Mori

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8 thoughts

  1. Marcus, We’re just as fascinated with death and the symbolic symbols of death as we are with life and it’s symbols, at least I am.

    Perhaps it’s the unknown or knowing there ‘s an unbreakable relationship between the two — one always following the other. But which one or is it a continuous loop?

    Wonderful framing in this image…it’s very strong, I like it very much.

    1. Yes, Earl, this connection between the two is there, it’s just the present time that tries to abolish every thought of finiteness of the individual life. I am far from any “eros thanatos” (I couldn’t find a suitable English expression for it) which was quite in vogue two centuries back, but a healthy open-eyed acknowledgement of the facts of life and death suits adults quite well.

    1. Thanks, Tyler. Your quote of Thomas Bernhard finally made me put him on my reading list – it’s almost embarrassing to state that I haven’t read anything of him until now.

  2. It looks as if it is still in flight. Strangely enough I took a picture of a dead gull on the beach just yesterday that will be up on my blog soon. I’ll mention your influence.

    I am constantly surprised by people’s idea that death is an inconvenience visited only on others. The older I get (66) the more inevitably it becomes part of my life.

    You travel with wonderfully open eyes.

    1. James, death is certainly a big taboo in Western (capitalistic – only of those I have at least some knowledge) societies. With the pursuit of wealth as the main goal in life, death certainly became an annoyance: Medical progress allows us to statistically postpone it at a constant rate, new life patterns allow us for long periods to spend our days almost exclusively in our (young) age group. So ignoring death is not too difficult, especially as we have to concentrate on the new iPhone, camera, car or whatever…

      Regarding the open eyes: Traveling I always see as an opportunity to re-adjust my coordinate system: If I would measure everything with my expectations, I would learn nothing! The not so easy part is to maintain this openness in the daily environment… And a certain drawback is the vulnerability coming with it.

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