Memento Mori Paperweight - MothThe School of Life
For centuries, artists produced ‘memento mori’, works of art that would remind their viewers of death and usually featured a skull or an hourglass. The point of these works wasn’t to make people despair, but to help them use the thought of death to focus on the real priorities.
Vivid reminders of mortality and the transient nature of life put our prosaic obsessions into question. When measured against the finality of death, the true insignificance of some of our worries is emphasised and we’re given an opportunity to feel a little braver about what we really want and feel.
The School of Life have created a collection of glass paperweights to serve as our own, modern versions of a ‘memento mori’. These objects are both pleasing to look at and should serve as daily inspirations to tackle our most important task: to live in accordance with our true talents and interests and to make the most of whatever precious moments we may have left.
Eubaphe mendica, also known as the Beggar, is a small yellow moth of fragile appearance and almost translucent wings. In her famous essay, ‘The Death of the Moth’, the English writer Virginia Woolf describes the final moments of just such a moth. It is trapped against a pane of glass. It cannot understand its predicament. It keeps trying to get through, but its energies are limited, its knowledge is too small and its lifespan is desperately short. To be touched by this is to be touched – ultimately – by our own similar fate. We too have brief existences which we risk (so very easily) in hopeless, mistaken efforts; we too are misled, fatally, by things that we think are attractive, and for us as well, death comes far sooner than we would like.