Pottery scene in movie called Ghost

Damn Joan Recommends

By Damn Joan Staff

Looking for a bit of further reading, viewing, or listening on this month's theme? Have we got some recommendations for you.

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The Pottery Scene in Ghost

Being felt up by your dearly beloved dead husband? C’mon.

“After I Was Thrown in the River and Before I Drowned”

A bittersweet short story by Dave Eggers about death and rebirth, told from the manic perspective of a puppy.

Summer Puke Is Winter’s Delight

This video from artist Sawako Kabuki is a hot-pink mess of bodily functions with the tagline, “Painful events become memories over time. Still, we vomit and eat again. Life is Eco.” We’re usually way too prissy for anything this gastric, but it’s so real.

“Learning to Love Obsolescence”

Newsweek’s brave new world editorial from 1999 talks about the wonder of “smart junk” and finds “melancholic beauty” in outdated tech, calling it “a metallic fossil of some lost human desire.” It makes almost no sense, but in the best possible way.

“In the Dust of This Planet”

This podcast episode by WNYC’s Radiolab defines cool as “nihilism without fear” and connects Beyoncé, dada, punk, death, and meaninglessness into a perfect geometry for our end-time haze.

Industrial Scars

The images in this book, by the environmental activist and photographer J Henry Fair, are deceptively beautiful extreme aerial shots, full of vivid colors and abstract shapes. But what they really show are crime scenes: the aftermath of industrial mining, fracking, and irresponsible agricultural production.

“Car Crash While Hitchhiking”

The brilliance of this short story by Denis Johnson from his anthology Jesus’ Son might best be summed up by the following quote: “Down the hall came the wife. She was glorious, burning. She didn’t know yet that her husband was dead. We knew. That’s what gave her such power over us.” Don’t you want to read more?

After Life

This Japanese film from 1999 is a meditative musing on death and memory. The story is relatively simple: Over the course of a week, 22 souls arrive at a waiting station of sorts and are asked to choose just one memory that they can take with them into the afterlife. Some people are old, some young. Some memories are big, like flying through the clouds; others are small, like resting your head in your mom’s lap. Once a memory is chosen, it is up to the purgatory staff to re-create and film it. In preparation, director Hirokazu Kore-eda interviewed 500 people about their most cherished memories, and the film cuts between this documentary footage and the actors. The poignant yet austerely shot conclusion: Memories, in their constant state of change, do not die.


Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures / Ronald Grant Archive / Alamy Stock Photo
Published 11–13–2017