Behind a plate-glass window are three bodies. Except for their leather loincloths, they are naked. From a pipe above each bed, a trickle of cold water runs down their faces. Their eyes are closed. They are dead -- one is swollen by drowning, one gashed by an industrial accident, another stabbed -- and a crowd gathers.
This is the Paris morgue, circa 1850. The purpose of the display was to get the public's help in identifying unnamed corpses. Many deaths from workplace accidents and many men worked out of their district. But around the turn of the century, the morgue developed a reputation as a gruesome public spectacle and was even listed in tourist guidebooks as one of the city's unmissable attractions.
With the crowds came snack sellers and street performers, creating an almost festival atmosphere. The press reported in lurid detail on the latest crimes in the city -- you could read about a murder in the paper and then pop over to the morgue to view the victim's body. The stories described those who flocked to the morgue not as morbid gawkers, but as concerned individuals driven by empathy and a strong moral sense. The equivalent of a crowd rubber-necking at an accident was seen as an expression of solidarity borne out of tragedy. (Via JSTOR Daily)
In the UK, new Covid-19 restrictions allowing groups of
up to six people has as become known as "The Rule of Six". A reader suggests that a better government slogan might have been "Six in the City".
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"It is unclear what rich people are for," writes David Roth in Defector.com. "In the most generous interpretation, the rich are here on earth for the same ineffably profound reasons that other people are: to create and aspire, to love and be loved, to live and die and eat the sandwiches of their choosing. But the ways in which extreme wealth continues to warp and diminish and generally impoverish the world raise the existential stakes significantly on the question. The people who have the most also tend to demand the most, and on a level that ordinary people can't or won't demand things.The rich fund institutions and armies of credentialed factotums to recast their dull, atavistic desires as valid ideologies, and politicians spin all that corny dross into policies, and it all piles up downstream from there. It chokes, it floods. Some rich people also collect art, to be fair, although that's mostly because art is currently the most expensive thing a person can collect."