Post-Mortem Projections: Medieval Mystical Resurrection and the Return of Tupac Shakur

Alicia Spencer-Hall

Abstract


Medieval hagiographies abound with tales of post-mortem visits and miracles by saints. The saint was a powerful religious individual both in life and in death, a conduit of divine grace and lightning rod for Christian fervour. With her post-mortem presence, the presumptive boundary between living and dead, spirit and flesh, is rent apart: showing the reality of the hereafter and shattering the fantasies of the mortal world. The phenomenon of a glorified individual returning to a worshipful community after their apparent mortal expiration is not just medieval. In April 2012, the rapper Tupac Shakur “performed” on stage at the Coachella music festival. Tupac was murdered in 1996; his ghostly presence was the result of a hologram. His holographic form, the “Pac-O-Gram”, took to the stage to a breathless crowd of fans. The holographic performance is a product of technological advances. Yet reports of the holographic performance were filled with references to Tupac’s “resurrection”, a significant word choice, and one which links the rapper’s return with medieval hagiography more than the advance of technology. What can an examination of the modern example of the Pac-O-Gram and examples drawn from medieval hagiography of the dead returning to life add to each other?


Keywords


medieval hagiography; Tupac Shakur; resurrection; divine visions; holograms

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