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Geometry of Sleep


There is something both wondrous and chilling about the geometry of regularly spaced massed objects. Particularly with regard to large cemeteries. Why are they such fascinating sites?

One assumes all permanent large-scale modern cemeteries are there by design? So there must be a science/mathematics of the geometry of the cemetery?

I think it was only after seeing the ‘spotlight’ circular amphitheatre space of the truel in Leone’s The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly that I realised there was the possibility of non-linearly regimented burial markers in military burial sites. I can only assume that many military cemeteries are so arranged so as to give the dead the purpose they had in life ie to seem as if forever on parade? Forever serving.

Perhaps there is a perceived solemnity in such regularity? Any more ‘random’ an arrangement reading as hasty internment or lack of care or perhaps even a lack of modernity? It being that as opposed to graveyards, where persons are buried according to familial whim, markers are not individually chosen.


Certainly standing well within a large military cemetery one experiences a feeling of ‘vertigo’ as if trapped within an open maze. Strange linear site line geometries beyond the row and column begin to reveal themselves. Pure mathematics but seemingly esoteric.

I have long been fascinated at the choices made in such arrangements. Partly one would believe based on imposed location [gently rolling inclined site, flat, sandy, with mature trees etc]. Round topped grave stones, crosses, small milestone type markers; back to back, closely abutted, walkway sized avenues between each; grey granite, white marble,  wood-effect, etc.

b_1_Calgary_(Burnsland)_Cemetery_1A really worthy enterprise is The War Graves Project to document and photograph every war grave, individual memorial, Ministry of Defence grave, and family memorial of serving military personnel from WWI to the present day and make these available within a searchable database.

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