"International Year Of Polytheism”
(powered by monochrom) wants to overcome the epoch of the monotheistic
worldviews (and its derivatives such as "The West"
and "The Arab World") through the reconstruction of
a polytheistic multiplicity in which countless gods and goddesses
will eventually neutralize each other. Polytheism is democracy,
Monotheism a dictatorship, even in its pseudo-secular form.
Freed from the servitude of monotheism and the fraternal strife
of the trinity, the world would be redeemed in a chaotic baptism
of multiplicity. Besides, we believe that polytheism is the
most suitable form of religion for a modern, dynamic and cosmopolitan
young culture. Improve your C.V. with polytheism. Create your
own heavens and hells. Or try it out yourself with our special
Gods/Goddesses trial subscription. Our qualified operators are
standing by to take your calls!
Door Henge: Doors Of Polytheistic Perception:
Anonymous friends of the movement in San Francisco are erecting a polytheism monument on August 19, 2007 in an undisclosed public location. There is clearly a need for secrecy as a result of religious oppression from the monotheistic mainstream.
San Francisco, California.
The Divining Pod
A balloon is a type of aircraft that remains aloft due to its buoyancy. A balloon travels by moving with the wind. The balloon is ONE BIG fabric envelope filled with a gas that is lighter than the surrounding atmosphere. A SINGLE balloon that is less dense than its surroundings, it rises, taking along with it a basket, attached underneath, that carries passengers or payload.
Cluster ballooning is an uncommon form of ballooning in which a balloonist is attached by a harness to a cluster of MANY SMALL rubber balloons.
Cluster ballooning is a perfect metaphor for the plurality and democracy of polytheism. Fight the concept of monotheistic single-balloon ballooning!
At Maker Faire San Francisco 2007 we want to present the world with the "Divining Pod".
Join our effort to fill ballons with helium, tag the balloons with names of air goddesses and air gods, and lift a human being into the skies of diversity! We want to see the heavens open!
San Francisco, California. Maker Faire @ San Mateo Fairgrounds. May 20, 2007.
Eating A Persimmon For Zeus
A Persimmon is variety of species of trees of the genus Diospyros, and the edible fruit borne by them. The most widely cultivated species is Diospyros kaki. The fruit is very sweet to the taste with a soft to occasionally fibrous texture. Cultivation of the fruit started in parts of East Asia, and was later introduced to California.
Diospyros kaki translates as "The Fruit of Zeus".
Zeus, is (or was) the king of the gods, the ruler of Mount Olympus, and god of the sky and thunder, in Greek mythology. His symbols are (or were) the thunderbolt, bull, eagle and the oak. When the world was divided in three, Hades received the underworld, Poseidon the sea, and Zeus the sky.
We want to honor Zeus! We want to moan about the dreadful non-divisional monotheistic singularity! Long enough we were dominated by the concept of the God of the Abrahamic religions and/or the Platonic concept of God as put forward by Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite! We want to eat persimmons for Zeus! In anger!
Join the force! Eat his fruit! Get a certificate!
Los Angeles, California. Sidewalk @ 4810 Sunset Boulevard. February 23, 2007; 1 PM- 1:30 PM.
Premature Burial As A Field Trial For Near Death Activities
The people present will have an opportunity to be buried alive
in a coffin for fifteen minutes. Volunteers will be able to
experience a semi-traumatic situation and possibly get in close
contact with various gods and/or afterlives.
As a framework program there will be lectures about the history
of the science of determining death and the medical cultural
history of "buried alive". People buried alive not only populate
the horror stories of past centuries, but also countless reports
in specialized medical literature. The theme of unintentional
resurrection by grave robbers also runs through forensic protocols.
Even in the 19th century it was said that every tenth person
was buried alive.
February 7, 2007. Blackwood
Gallery, Mississauga/University Toronto, Canada.
The symbolic liberation of Barium Nitrate will signal the opening
of this "International Year of Polytheism". We would like to
invite you to join with us in igniting 10.000 bound sparklers,
free of any judaeo-christian intent. Nothing but a wonderfully
powerful fire signal, whose representational vacuity and lack
of otherwise traditional symbolic meaning might just wake some
of the ignoble gods exiled by monotheistic McKinseyism. We welcome
the gods back from their second-class beyond(s).
January 26, 2007. Symposion
Lindabrunn, Lindabrunn, Lower Austria.
events are planned.
And never forget: One is the number of the beast!
|Premature Burial As A Field Trial For Near Death Activities: A Very Short Cultural History
The fear of being buried alive is one of our most primal fears. The mere thought gives us the creeps and makes our heart beat faster. We find reports about people awaking on their alleged deathbed even in classical antiquity. There's more than one text testifying that some poor fellow came back to life right on their cremation table and could not be spared the gruesome fate of being burnt alive.
With the introduction of coffins the fear of regaining consciousness six feet under became a considerable factor, developing into a serious case of mass hysteria in Germany and France in the 18th and 19th century.
People awaking from death are a powerful literary motif. Stories about apparently dead people in post-medieval Europe are galore. One of the most gruesome stories is that of a young Swedish girl who supposedly died in a state of advanced pregnancy. In the evening after she was buried, the verger hears pitiful groans from the courtyard. Highly superstitious and afraid of ghosts, he runs home and hides under his bed sheets. When he tells the rector about his observation the following morning, the clergyman orders the coffin to be exhumed, not without reproaching the verger for his superstition. The opening of the coffin produced a terrible sight: the girl had given birth in her coffin and died in her own blood.
This is just one of many hundreds of ghastly tales in the same vein. In the 18th and 19th century these collections -- like the Thesaurus of Horror, published in 1817 -- attracted thousands of readers and lead to a sudden upsurge in fear of apparent death and premature burial in the 1740s, and for more than 200 years to come, a scientific debate was to keep Europeans of all social backgrounds busy: the controversy over the fallibility of the signs of death.
In classical antiquity the absence of a heartbeat was the accepted sign of death. Yet, there is also evidence that there might have been an awareness of the fallibility of this criterion. The Greek physician Galen already recommended great caution in declaring people dead in case of certain diseases like hysteria, asphyxia, coma, catalepsy, and with people who have died from excessive grief or joy, or from intoxication with alcohol or soporific drafts.
But the scientific achievements of antiquity were lost in medieval Europe, and the Europeans had to start from scratch. At that time, the average European was never in all his or her life seen by a medical practitioner. It was therefore very common that people were declared dead by educated laypersons. For these laypersons, the absence of respiration and of bodily reflexes was enough to signify death. The idea of death being a transition, a gradual process, did not exist. Thus, a person who did not breathe was dead, and if they came back to life, they were ghosts. Period.
In the 17th century death was still something completely supernatural and inexplicable â€“ the miracle of death. Lots of legends and anecdotes told stories of bleeding corpses, speaking skulls and cadavers growing hair. These incidences were regarded as bad omens, predicting famine and disease, and none of these inspired more careful scrutiny of individuals presumed dead.
The common practice of burying bodies as quickly as possible -- especially in times of epidemic plagues -- poses another problem. The usage of coffins provides allegedly dead people with oxygen for about 60 minutes, enough time for somebody who died of, say catalepsy or who froze to death, to regain consciousness and die a second horrible death. The image of this has inspired some of the most gruesome tales of all time. The reader is spared no detail of this torture underground: you hear tales of people gnawing their fingers (sometimes their whole hands) in agony, people whose bodies were found in unnatural positions, with bundles of their own hair in their clenched fists, their faces distorted with the most horrible of grimaces. An image of despair, a foretaste of hell to the fear-stricken reader.
There is, for example, the story of a French soldier called Francois de Cirille, who is said to have been declared dead three times! He had been born by cesarean section to a dead mother exhumed from her coffin. After becoming an army captain, he was severely wounded in battle and buried alive in a mass grave. His servant, who wanted to dig his master a more fitting grave, discovered that he was not dead. While he was recovering, a troop of hostile soldiers burst into the house and threw him into a dung heap, where he lay buried for three days until rescued for the third time. According to his gravestone in Milan, he finally died at the age of 105. He froze to death while "serenading the lady of his heart all night long".
The most famous story of a premature burial is that of the Lady With the Ring. The story is that of a rich lady who dies and is buried with a very precious ring in the family vault. In the night, thieves break into the vault to steal the ring and the lady regains consciousness. This story exists in different variations all over Europe, in some of which the lady is raped by an obviously necrophiliac grave robber. In others the criminals cut the lady's finger off, and she awakes due to this harsh treatment. Some of the stories tell us that the lady runs through the streets in panic and is killed by frightened inhabitants of the town. Another version has it that her loving husband thanked the thieves for bringing his beloved lady back to life by giving them the ring as a present.
By the end of the 17th century some medical practitioners in Germany developed an awareness for the fallibility of the signs of death and suggested longer waiting periods between the time of alleged death and the burial of the corpse, along with caution in cases of certain conditions, very much like those Galen had in mind.
In 1740 a Danish anatomist, Jacob Winslow, postulated that people are at an immediate risk of being buried alive. He states that (quote) "death is certain, since it is inevitable, but also uncertain, since its diagnose is sometimes fallible."
He argues that the only reliable evidence that a person is dead is the onset of putrefaction and the appearance of livid spots. He suggests that no one be buried until they show signs of putrefaction, and that supposedly dead people be taken care of in warm beds and attempts be made to bring them back to life by tickling them with the quill of a pen or by introducing strong smells to their nostrils. But he also suggests rather brutal methods of resuscitation, like putting urine into the mouth of the poor victim, or cutting them with razors, thrusting pins under their nails, or pouring boiling wax on their foreheads, and even worse proposals that involve the most sensitive parts of the human body. Yet, one has to bear in mind that Winslow was only guided by his humanitarian feelings!
In spite of the startling contents, Winslow's work would have had little impact had it not caught the eye of the French physician and translator Jean-Jacques Bruhier d'Ablaincourt. He was a skilled linguist and a scholar with considerable understanding of European history and culture, and, like Winslow, he was a member of the Academy of Science. Bruhier's translation of Winslow's "The Uncertainty of the Signs of Death" was an immediate success. Bruhier himself emerges as a fully fledged campaigner for burial reform and adds some of his own stories to the volume. He argues, for example, that Jesus could not have raised Lazarus from the dead, if putrefaction had been awaited before the man had been declared dead. Bruhier also presented King Louis XV with his idea that bodies ought to be supervised for 72 hours or until putrefaction set it, before being buried. The King was impressed but postponed the project indefinitely after his ministers had estimated the costs of the reform. Nevertheless, Bruhier's book was immensely popular for years. Bruhier rejected all kinds of superstition, he was a rationalist in the Age of Enlightenment. He only makes one mistake: the book also contains a long list of "case reports", all the stories about apparent death and premature burial Winslow and Bruhier could get hold of, and Bruhier defends every single one of these cases, even the least credible ones.
As mentioned before, the subject was fascinating and stories on the topic abound, but these are not all case reports; most of these stories serve only one purpose: to entertain the public with tales about resuscitation, necrophilia, and with obviously sadistic overtones.
Bruhier therefore had two major groups against him: the Catholic Church because of his atheistic statements, and of course the medical profession (there were quacks and charlatans all over the place), who would not have it that they should not be able to tell a dead man from a live one.
But Bruhier's book was elegantly written and convincingly argued, and therefore accessible for the educated laypersons themselves. Hence the crucial information that the signs of death might be fallible went directly to the population, unfiltered by the authorities of church and science.
The book was translated into English, Swedish and German, and it caused considerable debate on the subject, which led to an upsurge of fear of premature burial in the mid 18th century, and some people even made wills requesting to be decapitated before their burial, in order to make sure they were really dead.
The 1740s were the perfect time for a fear of premature burial to develop. There was still a good deal of superstition around about abnormal fasts, swallows hibernating under water and submarine humans, but the rationalist medical scientists no longer considered these phenomena supernatural and cast doubt on the prevailing signs of death, which were still lack of respiration and pulsation. The scientist Reaumur made the observation in 1740 that an unconscious, breathless and pulseless individual can be brought back into live through artificial respiration, which was a sensation.
Bruhier managed to brush all criticism aside and become accepted by a majority of doctors and educated people. As an anti-premature burial activist he had many followers, and the call for a waiting period of at least 12 hours before corpses were buried became louder. Of course, the argument that dead bodies were a risk for public health in times of epidemic plagues weighed heavily. It was argued that the risk was higher to lose many than the gain of saving a few.
However, the Austrian court physician Gerard van Swieten agreed with Bruhier that putrefaction was the only certain sign of death, and he proposed to the Empress Maria Theresia that it become obligatory throughout Austria for at least 48 hours to pass between death and burial. Many German states followed suit and demanded a delay in burial of between 24 and 48 hours.
Thus, one significant positive effect of Bruhier's work was that it became accepted practice, throughout large parts of Europe, to wait at least 12 to 24 hours before any person was buried. Bruhier's warning that people who died from apoplexy, drowning, freezing to death and "hysteric conditions" were especially prone to be buried alive had the desired effect and probably saved lots of people from a gruesome fate. Humane societies were founded not only in Europe but also in America, and resuscitation on bodies found in lifeless conditions became widely accepted practice.
While England turned a deaf ear on the problem of premature burial that shook the continent, Germany developed a downright hysteria on the topic. All over Germany by the end of the 18th century there were calls for so called Leichenhäuser (waiting mortuaries), a concept conceived by the German Christoph Wilhelm Hufeland, who also wrote about the phenomenon of Scheintod (apparent death or death trance). These buildings were designed to keep bodies under surveillance until putrefaction set in. By 1795 Berlin had three LeichenhÃ¤user, the one in Munich even had a luxury department and it admitted visitors for a small fee. Some of these mortuaries also adopted strange alarm systems, like strings attached to the fingers of the corpses, so that the guide would be informed by an alarm bell should a body come back to life and move, and weird resuscitation devices to bring people back to life.
Literature on the horrors of being buried alive blossomed.
In the 1840s there were riots in Lisbon, where people went out on the street because the huge demand for waiting mortuaries was not met.
90 years later, the waiting mortuaries were still in use, but no longer popular in Germany. They were sinister, unpleasant places, they emanated an overpowering stench and were very expensive. Eventually, they were all closed down.
But another branch of inventions to rescue victims of premature burial emerged. In the 19th century lots of so called security coffins were patented worldwide. Most of them had tubes linking the buried coffin with the world above, some had alarm systems like bell ropes. The simpler versions had safety springs that opened the lid if a mechanism was triggered by the inhabitant. Others were supposed to be linked via strings to the church bell. Some offered the luxury of lamps inside the coffin or even air-conditioning. One model was equipped with a pyrotechnical rocket that could be launched through the security tube of the coffin. Somehow, none of these ideas really caught on.
By that time the extremely defeatist standpoint was overcome that putrefaction is the only reliable sign of death, and medical science made attempts to find reliable alternatives. The invention of the stethoscope was a huge step, but back then, a stethoscope was more or less a wooden hearing trumpet and therefore still unreliable. Some of the more obscure suggestions included the so called thanatometer: a long thermometer supposed to be introduced into the stomach of the person to measure the temperature in the core of the body. A certain Dr. Labode invented an electronic tongue-pulling machine, because he believed that pulling the tongue will always revive an apparently dead person. A French doctor invented a pair of strong pincers with which to pinch the two nipples. A German called Middledorph even suggested a small flag be attached to one side of a needle, which would then be thrust into the heart. If the person was still alive, and the heart still beating, the flag would wave merrily, he thought.
One of the more reasonable ideas came from an Italian named Dr. Monteverdi. He found out that the subcutaneous injection of liquid ammonia produced an inflammatory reaction in a living person but none in a corpse. This method is infallible, but there was the problem that the injection needs to be carried out correctly and syringes were a rather new invention.
In the 1820s and 30s the fear of premature burial in Germany began to wane anyway. But now it gained full strength in France. The French newspapers covered thousands of stories of people coming back from the dead, people rescued from the grave and people found in unnatural positions in their exhumed coffins. The French ignored the fact that in Germany the waiting mortuaries were closed, and that there was not one single case of apparent death reported in all the waiting mortuaries in Germany. The Germans were more and more reluctant to deposit their dead there.
Yet, there was lots of agitation for the erection of such buildings in France.
King Louis Philippe even set up a commission in 1844 to evaluate the truth of the rumors that people were frequently buried alive.
In the 1860s the Dutch professor Alexander von Hasselt was the first to contradict Bruhier and Hufeland by stating that the signs of death were perfectly reliable. He also described the role of the French newspapers in this hysteria, and he began to investigate and demonstrate that these stories were all untrue by simply travelling to the villages and asking the people who supposedly awoke from the dead. Basically all of them were impudently made up.
Still, the medical advances of the late 19th century had added some arguments in favor of the uncertainty of the signs of death. Scientists discovered that cardiac massage could restart a heart that had stopped beating and that anesthesia could produce a death trance resembling apparent death.
By that time the wave of hysteria had crossed the Atlantic, and newspapers in the US featured the same kind of gruesome stories as the French newspapers. But these stories kept nourishing the debate and peoples' suspiciousness of the medical profession which annoyed lots of doctors.
In 1905 the anti-premature burial movement gained new momentum through the appearance of a young Swedish girl, a suffragette, who was driven by a burning hatred of the wrongdoings of the medical profession. Her name was Emilie Louise Lind-af-Hageby, and in her sensationalist agitation during speeches she held in Great Britain, she claimed that tens of thousands of people were buried alive each year. Finally, the premature burial hysteria reached England, and a journal was established, the "Burial Reformer". Emilie was very successful with her one-woman campaign. She was witty, bright and elaborate and more than a match for the priests and newspapers that opposed her. But after some years of premature burial activism, she lost interest in the cause and the movement fell into terminal decline.
It has to be mentioned that the anti-premature burial activists also had a very strong link to organized spiritualism. Its aims throughout the years were basically reactionary, preferring cleanliness and goodness as the way to health against the discoveries of germs, bacteria, and vaccines. Some even opposed medical research and practitioners as a whole, which might easily have caused a medical disaster.
By the way, Hans Christian Andersen, Arthur Schopenhauer and Alfred Nobel lived in fear of premature burial.
So, how high was the risk of being buried alive really?
As mentioned before, on closer examination the gruesome tales of people awaking in their grave and those narrowly escaping the horrible fate of being buried alive basically prove to belong to the realm of folklore, like ghost stories. All the figures are highly exaggerated and there are basically only a few underlying tales that crop up in many variations all across Europe.
But what about the newspaper reports? Most of them follow the same scheme and are obviously made up. But there are also reliable sources telling about bodies found in unnatural positions in exhumes coffins.
Now we know that these things are easily explained by science. We know that the process of putrefaction makes corpses move their hands and feet. After death the body relaxes and the victim seems to smile, then cadaveric rigidity sets in and the gradual contortion of the musculature may produce a hideous grimace. There are tales about shattered coffins. Even these can be the result of perfectly normal processes. Sometimes corpses explode because they produce a huge amount of putrefaction gases. There are reports of gnawed fingers or hands. These are most certainly caused by rodents feeding on the dead bodies; they always start at the fingertips, working their way up the arms to the torso.
But how can the cry for help be explained that is very often part of these reports? Well, the putrefaction gases seek a way out and sometimes they simply pass the larynx, causing a sometimes quite loud moaning sound. Scientists call it the 'Totenlaut'. This sound must also have been what the superstitious verger heard in the story about the girl giving birth in her coffin. And the building up of putrefaction results in highly increased intra-abdominal pressure. It can be strong enough to expel an unborn child from the womb.
Well, we have one phenomenon left, which is also part of some of the reliable case reports: the detail that sometimes the clenched fists of the corpses are full of hair pulled out at the roots and matching that on the corpse's head. And there is no natural explanation for this!
So there obviously were victims of premature burial, but the figures the burial reformers presented to the public were surely highly exaggerated. It also has to be said that in all the German waiting mortuaries over all these decades, not one single case of apparent death has been recorded!
Well, the question remaining is: does it still happen today?
One of the most famous cases of all times is that of the Frenchman Angelo Hays, who had a motorcycle accident in 1937. His head had hit a wall, and he was declared dead and was promptly buried. Since his father had a life insurance of 200.000 Francs on the boy's life, an insurance inspector had the coffin exhumed to ascertain the cause of death. Two days after the burial he found the body still warm! The young man had been deeply unconscious, which lead to a diminished need for oxygen, and the earth with which the coffin was covered was very dry and therefore permeable.
After several operations he completely recovered and became a downright celebrity. He toured through Europe presenting a security coffin he had invented after his "rebirth". It contained library books, food supplies, had air conditioning, a radio, a chemical toilet, an oven and a refrigerator. It cost about as much as an automobile at the time.
But today high caution is taken in cases such as head trauma, drowning, lightning, electrocution, hypothermia, drug poisoning or intoxication with narcotic substances, and with people who freeze to death.
One remaining problem is that of suicide attempts with barbiturates in the cold. Lower body temperatures decrease the need for oxygen and barbiturates prevent shivering. There may be just 10 heartbeats per minutes or less and just 2 or three respirations. In this case people may be falsely declared dead by inexperienced practitioners.
So nowadays, with brain death widely accepted as a reliable sign of death (people who are brain dead always die within two weeks without regaining consciousness), there is theoretically only one thing you will have to bear in mind if you want to prevent premature burial: Simply avoid taking a drug overdose when outside in cold weather!