40 Faces of Death: A Grim Reaper Gallery

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As we explored in our podcast episodes "The Problem of Immortality" and "Into the Graveyard," humans are haunted by their own mortality. Fear of death and the desire to transcend its clutch permeates our culture.

And do you see what I did? Even now, almost without realizing it, I have personified death as a force, as an entity and most importantly as an outside agent acting against our physical bodies rather than a natural biological process.

Because if death is an enemy, then we can fight it. We can run from it. Maybe one day we'll even defeat it. For now, however, we can only personify the inevitable and drape its ghastly form in the dark robes of our imagination.

Join me as I journey through 40 images of the Grim Reaper, the Angel of Death and other artistic visions of impermanence incarnate.

About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.