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Paris/Ballet questionMontmartre Cimetiere

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#46 Mel Johnson

Mel Johnson

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Posted 17 May 2007 - 03:56 PM

Yes, I know very well the sort of movements you mean. It is not very difficult to go over from respect for the departed to animism (too MUCH respect) to contempt (too little). In the nineteenth century, cemetery planning in North America went into a design change associated with the picturesque movement in architecture. Much green, open space, watercourses, discovered vistas were incorporated just to bring a soothing sense of life everlasting to the mourners who came to visit. Picnics on the greens were encouraged, to keep the family together. Children could play games, to bring a sense that the dead were still onlookers. It was not so different from Asian cultures placing food at graves.

Sitting on gravestones has promoted some odd humor in the US, at least. When war veterans were first afforded tombstones from the federal government, shortly after the American Civil War (1861-65), they were tablets with either a flat crest or a gentle barrel arch. When the former Confederate states were authorized to produce stones for their veterans, fashion had changed. The basic popular headstone was by then the gothic (pointed) arch, and the joke was that, "Our boys have the pointy headstones so that the damyankees can't sit on them!"

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