In my time spent researching cemeteries, I’ve noticed that there is an either/or reaction once people realize what I do. Either they find it incredibly fascinating or they look at me as if I’ve suddenly sprouted two heads. Why is it that cemeteries can draw in some people, yet repel others? After mulling this for a bit, I’ve concluded a few possible answers.
Cemeteries used to be an integral part of community life. Now, this is no longer the case as people scatter farther away from their original roots than their parents or grandparents could have ever imagined (Gen Y notwithstanding). Carriage ways, or even walking paths and benches at particularly peaceful spots, were part of many cemetery designs. The Tikhvin Cemetery, located in St. Petersburg, Russia, is one such example. Today, except for places such as Arlington National Cemetery, or Pere Lachaise, cemeteries are the outcasts in a culture obsessed with perpetual youth.
Another deterrent would be Hollywood, where the more gruesome a film, the better – especially if a decent return is to be had at the box office. Horror films successfully tap into our collective subconscious fears of death, what lies beyond (or even beneath, for that matter). Just consider The Omen, Halloween, Bram Stoker’s Dracula or even, The Addams Family. For some, there is too direct a tie between horror films and cemeteries.
Although in all fairness, Hollywood shouldn’t be held completely responsible, considering what a well-written book can do to one’s sleep patterns. Continue reading