Death and imagination: creative strategies to embrace and avoid the crisis of death

Chiara Garattini (Intel Corporation)
John Troyer (University of Bath)
Start time:
26 August, 2010 at 11:30
Session slots:


Creativity and mortality have co-existed since the dawn of time. The social sciences often explain imaginative elaborations on the subject of death as a tool for resolving the "crisis of death" at a personal and social level. Along this line of argument, the crisis of death is more acutely problematic when there is a crisis of imagination. Western social attitudes towards death are said to be characterised by denial and refusal. Technology and medicine are often instrumental in this dilemma as they both allegedly reinforce our reluctance in accepting death as part of life. On the other hand, there is a sort of expectation that non-western societies never "deny" death but instead "face" it in an elaborate and imaginative manner. In this workshop we want to challenge these concepts and would like instead to explore the following ideas: how the human imagination is used to avoid thinking about death and how individuals constantly think about death through these same creative impulses. This paradoxical phenomenon becomes especially evident in the Western media, where death related themes become everyday entertainment. Our goal is to explore how individuals create concepts of death that do everything but think about death, while at other times embracing all its creative potentialities. Finally, we want to argue that many people deploy both of these "strategies" and that these activities necessarily overlap.