Death is something that most of us don’t like to talk about, or is something – if we mention it all – approached with humour. Yet it’s really the only thing, other than birth, that all humans have in common. In this book, Tomás Prower provides a tour of the world’s interpretation of the end of life.
You know, there’s nothing like a graphic investigation into the imagery of death to provide a kind of mortal “oh, is that the time?” feeling in the reader. This is, undoubtedly, the role of the Ebenstein-edited tome on funerary fetishism and the culture of the crypt: to examine how humanity has dealt with its ceaseless tramp towards death through creativity. It’s certainly the way I felt while flicking through its Grim Reaper-filled pages: tempus fugit. Death is coming, but hell, people have made some strange stuff to herald its coming. (Little trees of hair, anyone?)
Aside from this, the book reiterated that skulls are cool.
Today is the day I learned that David Bowie had died. So I’m writing some thoughts down to try and make sense of it. This probably seems strange, as I am normally averse to displays of grief over public figures. It’s always seemed a little – I don’t know, a bit weird. Almost unnecessary. But now, perhaps for the first time, I feel it.
I was at drinks and the news flashed on my phone; could it be a hoax, a hacked status update? Later, as I rode a train to meet friends, it was confirmed: Duncan Jones and the Beeb showed that this wasn’t the perennial internet jape of proclaiming someone dead. This was the real thing. And I felt teary, and weird, and like I didn’t want to be anywhere because this was, as stupid as it sounds, about someone very important to me, who I had never, would never meet. Dear, strong friends were lamenting; I’d not felt the tyranny of distance so keenly as when one suggested that we should all be together tonight, with a case of wine and music. But we’re in Los Angeles, Boston, Sydney, Helsinki, Amsterdam… all over the world.
I know, this probably will read as something rather indulgent – no different from the torrent of thinkpieces and reminiscences the coming weeks will bring – but this is my blog, so this is mine. There’s a bunch of obituaries you can read. The NY Times. The BBC. The Guardian. Vanity Fair. Mine is a bit different. It’s me processing this feeling of loss, which is strange. I know nobody’s ever an arsehole just after they’ve died, but it’s weird – I realise today I’d never really entertained the idea of Bowie dying. Because, like the sun, I felt he’d always be there. He always had been, right? (more…)