# # #19 What's with the skulls?

Brother, I Can See Your Skull.

Brother, I Can See Your Skull. - The Coreyshead Blog

#19 What’s with the skulls?

Shelf Life by Corey A. Edwards

#19 – Shelf Life

The Skull

The skull may skulk;
a visage grim
with proof that life
is tissue thin
but that is not the breadth of him
Forget you not:
the skull doth grin.


I just added a gallery of skull shots to my website and, thinking of posting that fact here, readied myself for a fairly common question I hear: what’s with the skulls?

Whenever I hear this, I suddenly realize how said habit must look to those who see skulls as little more than a reminder of impending doom, a sign of poison, evil, or motorcycle-riding, redneck buffoonery. Before it is asked, I never even consider that my appreciation of the naked human head is anything but normal.

Thinking back, the first seed of this appreciation has to be the grey primer, 1946, Willy’s, step-side truck my family had before and throughout much of my childhood.

I loved this truck. We drove it rarely – only for hauling jobs or where its incredible collection of 36 gears made it uniquely able to traverse. It was unlike any other vehicle I knew, harking back to yesteryear with its push-button door openers, split-pane windshield, classic round, utilitarian styling, a flat, flush, uniform dash that allowed the easy exchange of steering wheel and glovebox (for use in countries where one might find one’s self driving on a different side of the road), and of course, the decorative touches so carefully chosen and installed by my man’s man of a father; a troll with disturbing, real hair, cereal-prize Wiley coyote and the Roadrunner magnets on the glovebox, and … two skulls.

The first was an intricate, jawless, ivory affair appended onto the cigarette lighter in place of the stock knob. The delicate cheek bones, over-wide eye sockets, and realistic cracking and mottling appealed to me upon first glance and my eyes always strayed to its blank gaze whenever I clambered across the worn and faintly funky smelling bench seat for a ride to the dump.

The second was the truck’s skull-shaped gear-shift knob. If I recall, my father purchased it at the local department store, an outlet called Alco. It was a simple, one piece design, fist-sized and cast in a milky resin of some kind, fashioned with just enough care to lend it a semi-realistic appearance. I can remember frequently fingering its eyesockets and watching my father’s large hand resting atop the smoothness of its cranium in preparation for an impending gear change.

These two icons of my past are the parents of the aesthetic that continues to rule my otherwise inexplicable skull fetish.

Further childhood experiences cemented this fascination. In particular, a visit to California’s Disney Land in the 1970’s and the then new “Pirates of the Caribbean” attraction, the latter half of which featured animatronic skeletons cavorting in various modes of debauchery. Delicious! I came back from that summer with my skull-philia at an almost obsessive level; during the following second-grade school year, I drew nothing but skeletons for weeks on end, posting them for sale on a small board at the front of the classroom.

The thing is, I had little access or exposure to such imagery as a kid, so the rareness of the spectacle only served to inflame a passion that might otherwise have faded. Spying a skull shaped car, ring, doll, or cartoon character, I would thrill to own it, though the ability to purchase said flummeries was also as rare. One of the great, long lost toys of my childhood is a tiny, black plastic coffin, no more than an inch long if that, complete with lid and removable skeleton. I buried it in the hard earth of our sandbox one day, hoping to conduct a post-lunch exhumation but could never find it again. Damn grave robbers …

And so it went. As I grew older, my collection grew bigger but slowly because not just any skull will do, the criterion being a particular and seemingly inexplicable aesthetic and/or the uniqueness of the item, such as skull-shaped salt and pepper shakers or a skull decked out like a chef. Just any old skull will not do. The recent craze of skulls, due to the goth/pirate craze, for example, leaves me numb and non-plussed. It is still a rare thing to find a skull that interests me but when one does, look out! I must have it.

But still the question remains: what’s with all the skulls? What do I see in them? Am I evil? Do I think they make me look “tough”? Am I a satanist or a horror aficionado?

No, no, no, and no.

Primarily, it is an aesthetic appreciation that I struggle to explain. To me, there is just something intrinsically interesting in the shape of those that attract my eye. Secondly, they represent a reminder to me of my own – our – ephemeral nature: here today, gone tomorrow. The longer I am alive, the more aware I become, in a non-desperate fashion, of how little time we have in this life; to be, to do. Of how much value(or little, depending upon my perspective or mood at the time) there is in our time, our actions, our hopes, dreams, fears, relationships, creations, and belongings; impermanence.

Brother, I can see your skull.

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One Response to “#19 What’s with the skulls?”

  1. […] while back I talked about my fascination with skulls and where I thought it came […]

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