Liter-Artists: An Interview with Le Bizarreum
Death is a fascinating subject. Juliette Cazes from Le Bizarreum's website and YouTube channel talks about death, thanatology and the traditions with excellent pedagogy. With a personality mixing Goth and Baroque, she bewitches everyone who has an interest in death and the funeral. Juliette just published a book 'Funèbre!' about death and its rites all over the world.
Hi Juliette, first I would like to thank you for taking the time for this interview. You just released a book about funeral traditions, and you post regularly some videos where you talk about death with meticulous details while making it accessible to all. What inspires you to create?
Hello Sophia, and thank you very much for this invitation! That's right, my main subject of studies is Death, and I'm delighted to share it with people! To create my videos and my articles, I work with scientist content, of course, and also my experiences abroad. I love what I'm doing so I try to explain to all why the subject is essential and why we need to speak about it. To create, I have a real personal universe - the inspiration comes from everything, people who are alive, people who are dead, nature, travel and I love everything that reminds me of trips and old times.
Do you have a unique process when you create content, and does literature play a role in this process?
I think we all have inspiration in art. I read a lot and the only ones I read are novels from writers of the 19th-century - I love the atmosphere and the fact that death was everywhere during this time. All my other books are sciences books, studies about death and travel journals! I love what anthropologist, archaeologist or explorers tell in books. It's a big inspiration to me. Also, I love monsters—stories about strange people who are healthy in their head but not physically. For example, I love Frankenstein, and it's one of my favourite novels!
Who are your favourite writers, and why?
I love classics as Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, for example, or Brönte sisters. I also like, in a different style, Kathy Reichs's novels about biological anthropology. In my collection, I have lots of medical books, books about death, books about travel. I love to read Alexandra David Neel and her travels in Tibet. I enjoy reading about the Everest quest. It's an exciting part of history!
What makes a book your favourite?
I think that I love to think about life questions. Also, I love it when a writer takes me in his backpack to go through big adventures. I need to be captivated, to be afraid and to feel the feeling of freedom. I love true stories, it's not very happy, but I read a lot of books written by genocides survivors, people who faced challenging things in life. It's always a big thing to think about hell because a lot of people now on earth live in hell.
Death and literature are often interconnected; the gothic movement is very inspired by the macabre and the reality of death. In your opinion, why is it important to talk about death in literature?
I think death is very present in literature! In the gothic movement of course but also in a lot of books, even in child books. I was amazed to see numerous books for children with stories about ghosts, mummies and dead people. It's cool, and I'm a bit jealous! Death is, in general, the critical moment in a book such as the end and the beginning. Best studies and thoughts about death are in books. So I always keep that in mind to understand many questions about death. Reading is essential, and other media can't replace it.
We are all living in a difficult time due to the Covid-19 crisis, but has it helped you to read more and create?
Not really, it just confirms to me the fact that we are not prepared to face numerous death in a European country. I always think that we are not ready to deal with death because, since WWII, people are not concerned about death that much. A lot of people are passing away in hospital, this is the end of traditional mourning, and now we see our dead in funeral homes. In France, (because this is the country where I live), I see evolutions through my researches about that. The Covid-19 will help to prepare people to introduce technology in mourning: filming in live funerals for example, because the number of people is limited during ceremonies. It brings new questions about death and how we deal with this subject.
Literature has psychological benefits. What does it bring to you?
Reading is one of my favourite moment in a day. I love to immerse in a book and learn things. I think that people who are around me can be fed up because when I learn something new I'm very expressive and I would tend to say things like "Woaaa" "Ooooh" "Ohlalala" so, I can make a lot of noise. But it's just because I'm happy to read something new! I think that my psychological benefit is the fact that yes, reading brings me happiness, and I also enjoy reading lots of books at the same time. I'm used to read 5 or 6 books at the same time since my teenage years. I have capacities to stay concentrated; I move a lot, so it's the same thing when I'm reading. The good thing is that I can read fast so I can buy a new book a few time after the last ones.
What are you reading at the moment?
I'm reading a book about Egyptian mummies "from Ramses to Hollywood" about how mummies are seen since middle-age and how the Egyptomania becomes influential in history. I'm also reading a book about the Jivaro tribe; it's a book about an anthropologist who stays 14 months with the tribe in 1956. It's fascinating because the Jivaros has a reputation for being head hunters and for making shrunken heads. For my researches, I read an encyclopedia about tribes in the world during 1931. The last one I'm reading is about funerals in history; it's very interesting.
Thank you so much for your answers. I can not wait to read your book. One last question to give us inspiration on what to read this summer - what are the books you think we all should read?
Oh, it's a vast question!! I think books about Cambodian genocide (Rithy Panh for example) but also City of Joy, a novel by Dominique Lapierre (it's also a movie with Patrick Swayze in India). And of course Alexandra David Neel. And my last favourite is a book written by Agatha Christie about her life with her second husband, a young archaeologist.
Thank you for this interview, I'm very glad to join your adventure with Dubh Publishing, and I wish you a lot of success!!
You can order Juliette Cazes's book 'Funèbre!' here.
Interviewed by Sophia Hadef.