Corpse Trafficking

‘Tis a grim headline, to be certain: “11 People Arrested for Supplying Dead Unmarried Men with Dead Brides”. To the other, there is always a little more to a story than we might glean from such a brief statement. Charles Mudede does, in fact, offer some fine insight into the custom of ghost brides

Though the practice is very old and maintained mostly by people who live in rural China, it is by no means barbaric. Indeed, because civilization only begins when the living live with their dead—meaning, when the living are settled rather than nomadic, we can see in the ghost marriage something like the deep and wonderfully twisted roots of the modern urban consciousness.

The city is about a very close relationship between inhabitants who are made of matter and those made from the faintest stuff of memories—ghosts. Inhabited and uninhabited buildings, rooms, hallways, staircases are all haunted by those lost in the past of those buildings, rooms, hallways, and staircases. You can only remove ghosts by demolishing a building. This is why it is utterly ridiculous to fear ghosts in the forests. What is there to haunt? Trees? Moose? Mud? What nonsense. Humans are the haunted animal. Humans live in houses, apartments, castles, and the cities of their dead.

—except it is unclear that general perceptions of diverse death cults are so problematic insofar as it’s one thing for families to get together and marry a dead daughter to a dead son, as such, but quite another to go stealing corpses in order to facilitate the custom.

Which, in turn, raises a perverse question about human rights after death.


Mudede, Charles. “11 People Arrested for Supplying Dead Unmarried Men with Dead Brides”. Slog. 31 October 2014.

A Brief Note to Facebook: She’s Dead

“We are born, we die; and the waves roll on. We are born to die, and the waves roll on.”


Ghosts and PostsFile under First World Problems.

In the first place, it is weird enough to learn that a friend you forgot to call back two months ago has since died, but only find out because people are talking about it on Facebook. That is what it is, though; nothin’ to be done, there—we were the “other” social circle that existed outside the family, and would have been the last to know, anyway. Nobody would have called us.

But then there is this idea that I have only heard about before; I guess circumstances preclude one from the experience before a certain point in their digital life. But the Facebook messages from the dead are a little strange.

That is, it might seem cruel to make the point to Eddie, as such, but no, Ali-Cat should not have children … because she’s dead. But news travels oddly in the n’ether; maybe Eddie is one like us, who only finds out too late, through Facebook.

He’s on her Friend list.

But, to the other, I am as certain as I can be that my friend is not pitching my daily pic. (“Today’s photo: Feeling a bit disappointed today?”)

There really isn’t any rant to be had here about automation in the twenty-first century; these things happen. The 21 Questions ad server is probably the absolute last to know who died last week.

But there is also a reminder that our names and faces, our very identities in the hearts and minds of friends, family, and community, are nothing more than commodities. And the beautiful world my friend wished for and believed in will never come about as long as that is true.

Life goes on … for the living.