TGIF with Ingrid: Making Space for Death

What I am Thinking About


I read an article years ago that stuck with me entitled, “The Pornography of Death.” (if you want to read it, email me at and I’ll send you a copy).  Set in the foundational understanding that every culture has it’s taboo subjects, it’s rules of seemliness, the (mostly unspoken) parameters of what are acceptable matters for discussion, the author writes of sex as one such subject from our recent past.  And anyone over the age of about 30 can attest to this: human sexuality was (and often still is) a subject that, when broached, breaks the invisible barrier and provokes a particular kind of laughter, shock, or embarrassment.  Gorer suggests that there are two sides to this: prudery and pornography, and that pornography was a response to prudery, sending a certain distortion of sexuality underground. 


Now, for us walking around in 2018, we can hardly say that sex is any longer an underground affair – human sexuality, in Western culture, is very often provocative and public.  So what then is the equivalent of our prudery around sexuality in this time and place?  Gorer argues that it is death.  That we are experiencing the pornographication of death; that is, death has become more and more the “unmentionable” in conversation. 

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