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Full Version: How dying offers us a chance to live the fullest life
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EXCERPT: People still sometimes discuss the question of how you could tell that you were talking to some form of artificial intelligence rather than an actual human being. One of the more persuasive suggested answers is: “Ask them how they feel about dying.” Acknowledging that our lifespan is limited and coming to terms with this are near the heart of anything we could recognise as what it means to be human.

Once we discovered that Neanderthals buried their dead with some ritual formality, we began to rethink our traditional species snobbery about them and to wonder whether the self-evident superiority of homo sapiens was as self-evident as all that. Thinking about dying, imagining dying and reimagining living in the light of it, this is – just as much as thinking about eating, sex or parenting – inseparable from thinking about our material nature – that to have a point of view at all we have to have a physical point of view, formed by physical history. Even religious systems for which there is a transition after death to another kind of life will take for granted that whatever lies ahead is in some way conditioned by this particular lifespan.

Conversely, what the great psychoanalytic thinker Ernest Becker called “the denial of death” is near the heart of both individual and collective disorders: the fantasy that we can as individuals halt the passage of time and change, and the illusions we cherish that the human race can somehow behave as though it were not in fact embedded in the material world and could secure a place beyond its constraints. Personal neurosis and collective ecological disaster are the manifest effects of this sort of denial. And the more sophisticated we become in handling our environment and creating virtual worlds to inhabit and control, the looser our grip becomes on the inexorable continuity between our own organic existence and the rest of the world we live in.

It’s a slightly tired commonplace that we moderns are as prudish in speaking about death as our ancestors were in speaking about sex. But the analogy is a bit faulty: it’s not simply that we are embarrassed to talk about dying (although we usually are), more that we are increasingly lured away from recognising what it is to live as physical beings. As Kathryn Mannix bluntly declares at the beginning of her book about pallia-tive care, “It’s time to talk about dying”. That is if we’re not to be trapped by a new set of superstitions and mythologies a good deal more destructive than some of the older ones. Each of these books in its way rubs our noses in physicality....

Last Will and Testament - Jake Thackray...

I, the under-mentioned, by this document
Do declare my true intentions, my last will, my testament
When I turn up my toes, when I rattle my clack, when I agonise,
I want no great wet weepings, no tearing of hair, no wringing of hands,
No sighs, no lack-a-days, no woe-is-me's and none of your sad adieus
Go, go, go and get the priest and then go get the booze, boys

Death, where is thy victory? Grave, where is thy sting?
When I snuff it bury me quickly, then let carousels begin
But not a do with a few ham sandwiches, a sausage roll or two and "A small port wine, please"
Roll the carpet right back, get cracking with your old Gay Gordons
And your knees up, shake it up, live it up, sup it up, hell of a kind of a time
And if the coppers come around, well, tell them the party's mine, boys

Let best beef be eaten, fill every empty glass,
Let no breast be beaten, let no tooth be gnashed
Don't bother with a fancy tombstone or a big-deal angel or a little copper flower pot
Grow a dog-rose in my eyes or a pussy-willow
But no forget-me-nots, no epitaphs, no keepsakes; you can let my memory slip
You can say a prayer or two for me soul then, but make it quick, boys

Lady, if your bosom is heaving don't waste your bosom on me
Let it heave for a man who's breathing, a man who can feel, a man who can see
And to my cronies, you can read my books, you can drive around in my motor car
And you can fish your trout with my fly and tackle, you can play on my guitar,
And sing my songs, wear my shirts, you can even settle my debts
You can kiss my little missus if she's willing then, but no regrets, boys

Your rosebuds are numbered
Gather them now for rosebuds' sake
And if your hands aren't too encumbered
Gather a bud or two for Jake

To music:-

Death is a gift (Tolkien)...
However, those Men with the greatest understanding treated death as the Gift it was originally intended to be, and when their time came gladly gave themselves up to it.

I note in passing that Tolkien can be hobbit forming.
Good video SS!
Yeah, there's quite few upcoming events in Portland, OR.  I thought you said once that you lived near there. That's right up your alley, MR.  You should check it out and report back to us.