Stories of the Inscrutable, Infallible, Inescapable MACHINE OF DEATH edited by Matthew Bennardo, Ryan North, and David Malki
Lapham’s Quarterly always has some exceptionally good reads, like this essay by editor Lewis Lapham in the Fall 2013 edition, called Death.
The question “Why must I die?” and its implied follow-up, “How then do I live my life?”, both admit of an answer by and for and of oneself. Learning how to die, as Montaigne goes on to rightly say, is unlearning how to be a slave.
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Philosopher Stephen Cave in conversation with Susie Neilson:
Thinking less about yourself, more about other people and other causes, so your own death doesn’t seem as important to you, because these other causes and people will live on. Those other things will help you come to terms with death.
James Altucher draws the similarities between himself & his father over the course of their individual lives:
Spending time with people you love and who inspire you is not about making money or having fun. It’s a matter of life and death.
Thomas Lynch is a poet, essayist and undertaker. Reading this article, another one on death, from the perspective of the “business” that is a funeral parlour, especially true in the West, is worth your time.
I discovered one of my favourite stories in a Khalil Gibran collection:
A rich and mighty Persian once walked in his garden with one of his servants. The servant cried that he had just encountered Death, who had threatened him. He begged his master to give him his fastest horse so that he could make haste and flee to Tehran, which he could reach that same evening. The master consented and the servant galloped off and the horse.
On returning to his house the master himself met Death, and questioned him, “Why did you terrify and threaten my servant?” “I did not threaten him; I only showed surprise in still finding him here, when I had planned to meet him tonight in Tehran,” said Death.
This article by Julian Baggini, who is trying to come to terms with his father’s demise, reminded me of it. Not an easy read, but who said you’d find only easy reading here?
Nine years ago, Graham woke up and discovered he was dead. “It’s really hard to explain,” he says. “I just felt like my brain didn’t exist any more. I kept on telling the doctors that the tablets weren’t going to do me any good because I didn’t have a brain. I’d fried it in the bath.”
Dan Lewis (@dandotlewis) runs a daily newsletter called Now I Know. I loved this one on how they handle death if it happens mid-flight.
Why don’t airlines suggest moving a passenger who dies in-flight into a restroom? … while that used to be done, airlines soon learned that this was a big mistake. Getting the body into the lavatory isn’t terribly difficult, but getting it out often is, because rigor mortis sets in during the duration of the flight. The now-stiff body is difficult to move.
Caitlin Doughty, the woman behind Jezebel’s “Ask A Mortician” series, explains the benefit of confronting one’s own death. She discusses “Ars Moriendi,” a manual from the Middle Age that “was basically an instructional tract for how to die, or the best ways to die”:
There was an experiment done where they went into a nursing home with elderly people, and they gave them a plant to take care of. And they said, “This plant is going to die if you don’t take care of it. You’re responsible for watering and caring for this plant.” And they found that the people they gave those plants to lived significantly longer than those who didn’t have them, because they felt some control over their life, they had some reason to be moving forward and to be taking these daily steps. I think “Ars Moriendi” had a similar purpose: The dying person is given this measure of control over their own death and moving ahead, not just a victim of our medical system where they’re like, “I’m just going to lie here and slowly go crazy and rot and die.”
via The Daily Dish