Severed

Severed

A History of Heads Lost and Heads Found

Book - 2014
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The human head is exceptional. It accommodates four of our five senses, encases the brain and boasts the most expressive set of muscles in the body. It is our most distinctive attribute and it connects our inner selves to the outer world more evocatively than any other part of the body. Yet there is a dark side to the head's pre-eminence. Over the centuries, human heads have decorated our churches, festooned our city walls and filled our museums. Long regarded as objects of fascination and repulsion, they have been props for artists and specimens for laboratory scientists, trophies for soldiers and items of barter. Today, as videos of decapitations circulate online and scientists promise the wealthy among us that our heads may one day live on without our bodies, the severed head is as contentious and compelling as ever.From the western colonialists whose demand for shrunken heads spurred brutal massacres to the troops in the Second World War who sent the remains of Japanese soldiers home to their girlfriends; from the memento mori in Romantic portraits to Damien Hirst's With Dead Head; from grave-robbing phrenologists to enterprising cryonicists, Larson explores the bizarre, often gruesome and confounding history of the severed head. Its story is our story.
Publisher: London : Granta Books, 2014.
ISBN: 9781783780556
178378055X
Characteristics: xviii, 317 pages :,illustrations ;,24 cm

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Kchaiso
Jan 14, 2015

Covering the exploitative nature of shrunken heads to the sci-fi trope of "brains in a jar", Larson gives the reader a prompt run through of the fascination with, well, severed heads. If you're looking for a solid answer on why humanity seems to be drawn to severed heads, well, this might not be the read for you. Larson is fantastic at getting the reader to think critically; as she runs through the different ways that people have encountered skulls, she shares her personal opinions (without forcing the reader to agree with her and without quite blatantly forcing it down the reader's throat.

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