In the sharp transition from high school to university, you are generally bombarded with a vast array of strange, exciting and bewildering new ideas and concepts. I knew that the conservative hand-holding of high school was well and truly behind in me in one of my freshman English classes in which my tutor introduced us to “la petite mort” or “the little death”, a metaphor for orgasm. This moment came back to me while looking at Prue Gibson’s The Rapture of Death. Only recently published, Gibson’s book explores the complexities of morbid imagery in contemporary art; those that position the viewer in an emotional space between fear and frisson.
Covering a broad section of disciplines – including art, film, history and literature – Gibson’s small tome deals specifically with “the experience of delight upon escaping grave danger” and “offers the sweet knowledge that you are safe, at least for the moment, from the clutches of darkness.” Its thanatology through a lens of visual representation and provides an enlightening view into the myths, symbols, fetishes and narratives bound up with eternal rest.
The Rapture of Death can be purchased through independent publishing house Boccalatte Make Books.