Bizarre Deaths from the Victorian era
12.26.2013
07:01 am

Topics:
Amusing
R.I.P.

Tags:
death

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In the 1800s and early 1900s, more people died at a younger age than today. Overcrowding and unsanitary conditions allowed disease to spread quickly and with devastating effects. This period, which the British term the Victorian era, also saw a high incidence of bizarre deaths, a selection of which have been listed by the BBC News Magazine:

1: Killed by a mouse

In 1875, at a factory in south London, England, a mouse dashed across a work table startling the employees. One worker made to grab the fleeing rodent, but the mouse escaped his grasp, and ran up the man’s sleeve, out through the neck of his shirt, and straight into the young man’s open mouth.

The Manchester Evening News reported:

“That a mouse can exist for a considerable time without much air has long been a popular belief and was unfortunately proved to be a fact in the present instance, for the mouse began to tear and bite inside the man’s throat and chest, and the result was that the unfortunate fellow died after a little time in horrible agony.”

2: Killed by a coffin

Henry Taylor was a pall bearer at London’s Kensal Green Cemetery. One day, whilst carrying out his duties at a funeral, Taylor tripped over a headstone and fell backwards on to the ground. As he fell, his fellow pall bearers let slip the coffin they were carrying, and it dropped directly on to the prone Taylor’s head.

The Illustrated Police News reported in November 1872:

“The greatest confusion was created amongst the mourners who witnessed the accident, and the widow of the person about to be buried nearly went into hysterics.”

 
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3: Death by eating her own hair

The woman’s death was a mystery. Doctors could not fathom why, or even how, she had died. It was only after a post mortem that the cause of death was revealed. Inside the 30-year-old’s stomach was a solid lump of human hair, curled like a bird, and weighing two pounds.

The Liverpool Daily Post reported in 1869:

“This remarkable concretion had caused great thickening and ulceration of the stomach, and was the remote cause of her death. On inquiry, a sister stated that during the last twelve years she had known the deceased to be in the habit of eating her own hair.”

4: Killed as a zombie

At a funeral in rural Russia, the mourners were horrified when the coffin lid burst open, and the deceased climbed out.

The villagers ran in terror, locking themselves in their houses. The priest hid in the church. As the villagers armed themselves, the priest realized the deceased had most likely been in a coma, and had regained consciousness. One old woman failed to lock her door, and the suspected zombie staggered into her house. The woman’s screams alerted the villagers, who, now armed, were ready to dispatch the zombie. By the time the priest arrived to explain what had happened, the “zombie” was dead.

5: The man who laughed himself to death

Farmer Wesley Parsons was sharing a joke with friends in Laurel, Indiana, in 1893, when he began a fit of uncontrollable laughter. Nothing could stop Parsons horrifying attack of the giggles, and after two hours of non-stop laughing, he died of exhaustion.

Read more truly bizarre deaths here. Below, a collection of photographs of “The Victorian Book of the Dead.”
 

 
Via the BBC News Magazine

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
New crazy headline ‘Jacko Chimp Fingers Killer Doc’


 
The UK’s Daily Sport tabloid is on a roll - only a few weeks after delivering the now legendary leader “Gordon Ramsay Sex Dwarf Eaten By Badger” comes this beauty. But what I want to know is - did it hurt?

Written by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
Republican candidates answer the question: ‘Do you really believe that?’


 
I thought this was pretty powerful. If you agree, consider passing it on via Facebook, Google + and Twitter…
 

Via MoveOn

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Death, jazz, art: Dr. Jack Kevorkian, artist, musician when not assisting suicides
06.03.2011
09:45 am

Topics:
Art
Music
R.I.P.

Tags:
jazz
art
death
Dr. Jack Kevorkian


 
By now you’ve probably heard that assisted suicide advocate, Dr. Jack Kevorkian, AKA “Dr. Death,” died this morning at the age of 83.

But what you might not know is that Kevorkian was an accomplished painter and jazz musician.

Yep, it’s true. One day I was crate-digging in some record store in New York City and I came across his jazz CD, Kevorkian Suite: Very Still Life for a buck, so I bought it. The CD booklet has several full-color reproductions of his paintings, and as you can see in the video below, the subject matter of his paintings often pertained to rather macabre things, as I am sure will come as no surprise.  And yes, that’s his music, he’s playing flute and organ. Not bad, but it wouldn’t be the last thing I’d want to hear…
 

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Adam Curtis on the death of Bin Laden

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Regular DM readers will know by now that we are big fans of the documentary maker Adam Curtis. He deals with current events and how they fit into a broader scheme of social and political history. Just the other day Richard posted the trailer for his upcoming documentary “All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace” which is to air on the BBC soon.

Curtis yesterday published an article through the Guardian about the death of Osama bin Laden, and what that means for the global political spin-machine. In it Curtis addresses the bogey-man status of Bin Laden and how his death will impact on the ongoing Western cultural narrative of “Goodies” vs “Baddies”:

Journalists, many of whom also yearned for the simplicity of the old days, grabbed at [the Bin Laden story]: from the outset, the reporting of the Islamist terror threat was distorted to reflect this dominant simplified narrative. And Bin Laden grabbed at it too. As the journalists who actually met him report, he was brilliant at publicity. All three – the neoconservatives, the “terror journalists”, and Bin Laden himself – effectively worked together to create a dramatically simple story of looming apocalypse. It wasn’t in any way a conspiracy. Each of them had stumbled in their different ways on a simplified fantasy that fitted with their own needs.

The power of this simple story propelled history forward. It allowed the neocons – and their liberal interventionist allies – to set out to try to remake the world and spread democracy. It allowed revolutionary Islamism, which throughout the 1990s had been failing dramatically to get the Arab people to rise up and follow its vision, to regain its authority. And it helped to sell a lot of newspapers.

But because we, and our leaders, retreated into a Manichean fantasy, we understood the new complexities of the real world even less. Which meant that we completely ignored what was really going on in the Arab world.

Curtis neatly sums up, in one statement, just why there is so much distrust for politics and the media in this day and age, be it from the right or the left, the fringe or the more mainstream:

One of the main functions of politicians – and journalists – is to simplify the world for us. But there comes a point when – however much they try – the bits of reality, the fragments of events, won’t fit into the old frame.

The article is highly recommended reading and you can view the whole thing here. I especially love Curtis’ work on the effect of the media in propagating certain cultural memes, particularly oldstream media, which tries to pretend it has no effect on politics and society even though it has a huge impact on how we think and function. If you’re not aware of Curtis’ work and his sharp insights (or even if you are) here’s a segment he produced for Charlie Brooker’s Newswipe on media and political paranoia:
 

Written by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
Rest in Perversity: Sebastian Horsley

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Eight days after the West End premiere of the play based on his autobiography, Dandy in the Underworld, top-hatted London-based extreme artist and lifestylist Sebastian Horsley was found dead this morning at age 47 of an apparent heroin overdose.

Born to wealthy alcoholics, Horsley is best known for traveling to the Philippines to be crucified as part of his research for a set of paintings dealing with the topic. But besides his arcane fashion sense, penchant for whoring, and ability to make the scene—running with the likes of Nick Cave, Current 93, Coil and others—Horsley was an accomplished painter and writer, and a guy with a drawling accent who could hold court in a red velvet chair with the best of them.

The Soho Theatre cancelled tonight’s performance of Dandy…, but will continue on tomorrow. Our own Richard Metzger put it best when told the news: “How sad that the world has one less total pervert.”
 

 
Get: Dandy in the Underworld: An Unauthorized Autobiography (P.S.) [Book]

 

Written by Ron Nachmann | Discussion
Southern (Korean) Death Cult
01.04.2010
09:34 pm

Topics:
Current Events

Tags:
death

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Fascinating article from today’s Los Angeles Times about an unusual new role-playing pop psychology craze that’s sweeping South Korea: participants, seeking deeper meaning in their lives, experience their own death and funeral.

Jung runs a seminar called the Coffin Academy, where, for $25 each, South Koreans can get a glimpse into the abyss. Over four hours, groups of a dozen or more tearfully write their letters of goodbye and tombstone epitaphs. Finally, they attend their own funerals and try the coffin on for size.

In a candle-lighted chapel, each climbs into one of the austere wooden caskets laid side by side on the floor. Lying face up, their arms crossed over their chests, they close their eyes. And there they rest, for 10 excruciating minutes.

“It’s a way to let go of certain things,” says Jung, a former insurance company lecturer. “Afterward, you feel refreshed. You’re ready to start your life all over again, this time with a clean slate.”

Across South Korea, a few entrepreneurs are conducting controversial forums designed to teach clients how to better appreciate life by simulating death. Equal parts Vincent Price and Dale Carnegie, they use mortality as a personal motivator for a variety of behaviors, from a healthier attitude toward work to getting along with family members.

Many firms here see the sessions as an inventive way to stimulate productivity. The Kyobo insurance company, for example, has required all 4,000 of its employees to attend fake funerals like those offered by Jung.

Read the entire article: South Koreans experience what it’s like to die—and live again (Los Angeles Times)

 

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion