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Distributed for Reaktion Books

Death

From Dust to Destiny

Distributed for Reaktion Books

Death

From Dust to Destiny

It is the surest fact of our existence, one we can never escape, one that no one else can do for us and that we can never be certain when will actually happen: our death. Death has long denoted the ultimate boundary of our individual lives, yet as Richard Brilliant shows in this moving book, there are ways that we can actually surpass it. Exploring the worlds of religion, ritual, and art, he shows how we have used memory to live a life everlasting.

Brilliant examines the ways that an individual’s ethos can live on long after the biological body perishes. It does so through the collective memories of survivors, being passed down to subsequent generations. Such “remainings” are created by rituals and reinforced through commemorations and obituaries and projected through art and architecture. These powerful inducements to remember counter the finality of physical death, bridging the gap between absence and presence. Weaving together a rich collection of texts and images and guiding them with deeply meaningful insights, Brilliant offers a reflective meditation on the methods that artists, architects, and writers have developed to activate memory and animate their subjects into robust afterlife. In this way, he shows, death need no longer be seen as a terminal departure but rather a transformation into a new form of existence, one carried on by the communion of others.
 

224 pages | 150 halftones | 6 1/2 x 9 | © 2017

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Reviews

"Whether discussing the architects of ancient tombs or the Romantic poets, Brilliant’s book shows an understanding of how the living and the dead connect. He shows us remarkable works of art from every era and discusses them not only with art-historical rigor but in terms of the emotions death has brought into lives and societies throughout history: he relates the art to every aspect of the before and after. His knowledge of poetry is also essential to the book’s success."

Art Quarterly

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