Un Magazine 9.2

Dear J

Oliva Koh



Artist Page

Dear J,1
As you have made note, decomposition occurs quickly in the tropics. Notably, it is a common desire amongst those concerned that your body not touch the ground throughout these procedures (Skeat, Evans). With this in mind we press on. After your initial demise the first expressions of grief are emitted (Snouk Hujronje). They wash your face with water—perfumed—in a circular motion (Cole, Garvan). Meanwhile a stapler is placed underneath your desk. Mats act as temporary structures, although some consider them second rate. A lamp is kept lit (Combes). To counteract the evil influence of a potential contract, contact with highlighters may be employed (Luis de Jesus). Conversely, there are those who advocate rubbing their eyes with the tears from a contract (completely red) and going under the cubicle at night (Skeat, Benedict). Collaboratively, we think this collection (including the complete absence—or tentative use of—a red contract) will serve to keep vigil over your head and other remains. Incidentally there is some debate as to whether these or other appurtenances will be left with you. Personal ornaments (food, staplers, biros, lamp, highlighters, manila folders, notepads) will be littered around a demarcated area; the waving of certain objects may have a cooling effect upon you (Loarca, Colin). At the initiative of some, a mirror is placed at the head of your body (Loarca). This deters others from approaching you, being of the impression that you have two heads instead of one: they will be made afraid to attack you. You are stretched out and plastic sleeves are cut with left-handed scissors and tied around your neck, limbs and feet (Rutter). Your abdomen is pressed in order that any matter—accessories, grievances—are extruded (Ling Roth). Corrupting influences are removed to avoid later interpretation (Chirino). Macerated register rolls are smeared over you. You are again washed and, due to your position, anointed with lemon water (Beyer, Sigayan). Three hours before your withdrawal, you are propped in an ergonomic chair, possibly with two sections to act as supports: one section in the back of the head, one in the small of the back (Orosa, Barton, Jenks). There are speeches (Orosa). During these speeches you may consider reviving momentarily and resting on one elbow, listening to these formulas; acknowledge the facts, lie back once and for all then be still permanently. You remain upright in a seated position (Foreman). This may take effect with the use of a previously unidentified unreleased juice or formula. A shallow recess is made (Forrest). Doors or other planks of wood are used to wall up the niche that suspends you (Christie). We think that the board that suspends you will be a high one, but they are yet to issue a clarification of this statement. Other addendums abound and will remain briefly mentioned: your watch may be set at an irregular hour (Hose and McDougal). Your mouth is filled with gold (Burbridge). An umbrella is made of extension cords (Shadenberg). Placed in large clusters, a marker of flowers: white and strongly perfumed with yellow centres, solitary flowers flushed with orange (Landor, Marsden). They yield a fragrant smell. You are placed, without further ceremony, into a horizontal niche (Cavalleria). Previous to this act, there should be no weeping or audible manifestations of grief; but as soon as demise is certain, all present should break into a wail (Venturello, Korner, Finley). This also serves as an announcement to the neighbours.

The People of the Current

  1. This letter is a response to **Illness, Death and Burial In The Southern Philippines With Special Reference To The Tawsug II* by J. Franklin Ewing, S.J. (1905–1968), which draws upon details of burial practices in different areas of the Philippines made by anthropologists from the 1600s until the 1960s. Part one (I) and Part two (II) appeared in the January 1967 issue of the Anthropological Quarterly, Volume 40, Number 1 and Number 2.