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Panni
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Morgue - Stare Death into the eyes

Photo #1 from Pécs, Hungary by Panni made on 2018-08-12 16:00 for Sola

The word morgue has a bizarre history. The initial definition (in French) was morguer - to stare, to have a fixed and questioning gaze. What you were meant to stare at were unidentified dead bodies - in a world before fingerprints, dental records, and DNA.

Photo #2 from Pécs, Hungary by Panni made on 2018-08-12 16:00 for Sola

In the late 1800’s, the Paris morgue became the place to see (dead bodies) and be seen (looking at dead bodies). People would come by the thousands a day to look at the unidentified dead in the morgue; it was public death theater. Spectacle!

The spectators would line up outside for hours waiting to get in. Vendors would sell fruit and pastries and toys outside. Tourism at its finest. Finally they would be let into an exhibit room where the corpses were laid out on slabs behind a large glass window. There was an air of mystery to it all, perhaps they would fulfill their “duty” and actually aid in solving a crime.

Photo #3 from Pécs, Hungary by Panni made on 2018-08-12 16:00 for Sola

The book *Spectacular Realities: Early Mass Culture in Fin-de-Siecle Paris *called the Paris morgue “a spectacle of the real.” This “real” was important because it was during the late 1800’s that Western culture began to pull away from death. Seeing a dead body wouldn’t have been as scandalous and thrilling if you were used to seeing them laid out in the parlor. But taking dead bodies out of a society makes them transgressive.

Eventually it became too transgressive, too popular, too scandalous, and the morgue exhibitions were shut down for the public. They remain behind (very) closed doors today.

I can almost guarantee that if there was a public display of corpses now, say, at the Los Angeles Coroner’s office or any other coroners office, people would go.

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Hungary, Pécs
11 comments
🍼🏍🔥Garsbriel❓
Pro Creator
😁 Damned Frenchies
5
🍼🏍🔥Garsbriel❓
Pro Creator
Morgue in French, means also to have a contenance haughty and contemptuous Synonyms: arrogance, height, insolence
PanniAuthor
Gars🌹Escape's party, haha, thank you! :3
coralie🎈
dou you know "Körperwelten" by Gunther Hagens?
5
PanniAuthor
Yes I do. However I’m not really fond of it. It fascinates me, but I have several problems with it.
Activist Goat
Pro Creator
I would certainly go, death kind of fascinated me. Not in a psycho kind of way, don’t worry. 😁
5
PanniAuthor
I don’t worry at all. Death is intriguing to many of us. I’m glad you are so open about it. :)
DELETED USER
Can we say that even todays death is demonstrating too? Maybe the purpose is changed. For example, in our culture (you can call it Islam) we are left the body of dead people at his/her home for a night. By doing that we let them stay at their home one last night and it also creates an opportunity for relatives to come and say goodbye.
PanniAuthor
I’m not sure if I understand the question in the beginning, but everything else you described, once was a beautiful part of mourning in the western culture as well. However nowadays in most of Europe and North America, funeral industry just swoops in and takes the bodies of our loved ones, most of the time without saying goodbye, and therefore mostly without closure. However a morgue - in my understanding - is solely for identifying unclaimed and unidentified bodies.
5
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