Thursday, April 29, 2010

Call for Entries, Remember That You Will Die!

My friends at Killing the Buddha have teamed up with the Ruben Museum (gotta see the "Remember That You Will Die" show!) and Obit Magazine (must read for death nerds like me) for an essay contest that examines our favorite subject.

Remember That You Will Die

Yes, you will die. But at least you can write about it.

In collaboration with New York City’s Rubin Museum of Art, home to a new exhibition entitledRemember That You Will Die: Death Across Cultures, Killing the Buddha (KtB) and call on writers to stare down death in his gleaming eye, take his skeletal hand, and invite him to dance. Six of the best selections will win their authors a year’s membership to the Rubin, publication in either KtB or, and the chance to read at a special event at the Rubin Museum on Friday, July 30, 2010.

Curated by Karl Debreczeny, Bonnie B. Lee, and Martin Brauen, the exhibition examines popular views of death and the afterlife in both the European Christian and Tibetan Buddhist traditions. Objects include paintings, sculptures, quotidian objects, and ritual items made from human remains. These provocative works of art are meant to startle viewers out of apathy, urge them to contemplate their mortality, and inspire them to use their short time on earth to secure a desirable place in the afterlife. It also includes a new work by the American artist Bill Viola.

If there is any way in this earthly realm for you to visit the exhibit in New York City, we encourage you to go in the flesh. Lean in close to examine the exquisite detail of the Hell Realms, and take a full five steps—left to right—to absorb the scroll of the Eight Great Charnel Grounds, and scrutinize the curve of a human skull, a flayed skin, the memento mori East and West. From 7 to 10 on Friday evenings, the galleries are free, and the downstairs café is lit up with candles so you can sip wine as you mull the finitude of existence. But let not physical distance prevent you from participating. Death can inspire all. Visit the Rubin online and browsethe exhibition brochure, where you can see images of and read about some of the art on display.

Next, respond in words. Be oblique; we’re not asking for a report or a review. No need to even mention the show or anything in it. Use it as a starting point for an essay on the remembrance of death, whether in the form of memoir, rant, reflection, obituary, profile, political commentary, or even an annotated recipe. Be sure to explore and Killing the Buddha first to get a sense for the kinds of writing the two magazines tend to publish.

Respond to the Rubin show, Remember That You Will Die. Your submission should be:

  • Non-fiction. We want the truth. We can handle it.
  • Between 800 and 2,000 words in length.
  • Sent to in a common text document format with “Rubin Museum Contest” in the subject line.
  • All entries must be received in our inbox by July 1 to be eligible for consideration.

What stories do you have to tell? What narratives do these images inspire? Do tell. Death waits for no one.

Killing the Buddha is a literary magazine about religion for people made anxious by churches, people embarrassed to be caught in the “spirituality” section of a bookstore, people both hostile and drawn to talk of God. provides comprehensive coverage on how the loss of a person, a place, an object or an idea presents an opportunity for examination and discussion. Obit asks the question, "What defines an important life?". It is a forum for ideas and opinions about life, death, and transition written by some of the most respected journalists in the American media.

The Rubin Museum of Art is a nonprofit cultural and educational institution dedicated to the art of the Himalayas. Its mission is to establish, present, preserve, and document a permanent collection that reflects the vitality, complexity, and historical significance of Himalayan art and to create exhibitions and programs designed to explore connections with other world cultures. RMA is committed to addressing a diverse audience—from connoisseurs and scholars to the general public and young children. Through its collection, exhibitions, and educational programs, RMA will become an international center for the preservation, study, and enjoyment of Himalayan art.

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