Thursday, April 22, 2010
THE USES OF THE DEAD
At dinner following one of the days of the aforementioned conference, the discussion somehow turned to the practice of embalming and displaying the remains of rulers in the 20th century. Though there are certainly older precedents (Buddhist monks etc.) of keeping and acknowledging relics or remains of the departed, the practice of preserving and displaying the entire bodies of political leaders appears to have begun with Lenin. Others, Stalin (for a time at least), Mao, Ho Chi Minh, and, of course, the Eternal President of the DPRK, Kim Il Sung, have followed suit (Kim's mausoleum even appears on North Korean currency).
I didn't know (or had forgotten) that Ferdinand Marcos had similar designs. Now, he's back in the news. Plus ca change...