A History of Heads Lost and Heads Found
by Frances Larson
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Humans are easy to decapitate: Our large heads rest on little necks. Most mammals have thick muscles joining the shoulders with the base of the skull; ours are so slender that our spines show through the skin. It is the price tag of standing upright, of casting off the hominid hunch. “Heads,” writes Frances Larson in Severed, are “tempting to remove.” Above the shoulders, our anatomy resembles a teed-up golf ball.
Larson, an English anthropologist, thinks that before turning to the mind-body problem, we might consider the head-neck situation. She wrote the book, a survey of our “traditions of decapitation,” because she believes dead heads can tell us things about our souls: “What can we learn about our common humanity from this, the ultimate image of inhumanity?” The answers she provides to this question
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