On November 23rd, The Thinker CIC supported the annual People’s Day of Death (formerly known as the Toxteth Day of the Dead) – an event masterminded by the KLF’s Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty, as a new way to mark life’s passing. Upon death, an amount of ashes can be fired into a ‘mumufication’ brick, which is then laid as part of the ‘People’s Pyramid’. This year, twenty bricks were added to the pyramid. Various workshops took place at the Florence Institute, in preparation for the procession of the People’s Pyramid foundation stone at the Pier Head. Next was the ‘Krossing’, where the fledgling pyramid was transported by ferry, along with the 400 attendees, and undertaken in silence. The procession continued to the Future Yard venue, where the bricklaying ceremony took place, followed by an ‘After Life Party’. Lots of madcap weirdness involved, including the pyramid-carrying JCB being accompanied by a Scottish bagpiper, as it led us through the moonlit Birkenhead night.
We hosted the ‘Wheel of Death’ at the Florence Institute, with willing participants spinning a wheel of philosophical questions relating to life and death. With the question selected, the sand timer was turned over, giving five minutes for exploration and discussion. Rich conversations were had on questions including: is death sacred; what’s the point in ritual; what tools are needed to prepare for death; and should death be feared? Some who participated were brick-bearers for loved ones who had passed so there was a valuable poignancy to discussions. Part of the rationale behind the ‘Wheel of Death’ was to create an opportunity for people to think and talk about issues surrounding death in meaningful ways. For many, talk of death is something to be avoided, and hasty attempts are made to divert conversations away from death. One thing that was evident from responses to the ‘Wheel of Death’ was that once you start probing the questions with others, there’s typically less to be feared and more to be gained.