Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Death: It'll Kill Ya

Alternate titles: Life'll Kill Ya, Death: the Ultimate Killer, Death: I'm Sick of It

I've had it with death. Kubler-Ross is out the window. I've had it so much that I need to spew this out on a site otherwise unrelated to such contemplations of such things or much of anything beyond a good rock n roll song. Lou Reed was the final nail in the coffin for me on handling death, and so by that tiny connection, I'm putting this out there on here.

It hit me a few days after he went. While I was on an elliptical machine at the gym. Sweating and pushing in the name of weight loss which was in the name of long term cardiac heart health. A method by which to stay alive longer confronted by the brain having an anxiety attack over the end of a life because it meant there was no way for that person, and by extension any person in the same state (dead), to be able to do anything anymore. That person, assuming they were alive just like it appears I am alive, was just gone. Nothing to see from the eyes of that person. Nothing to think. Smell. Touch. Just plain over. And it was going to happen to me too one day.

It actually triggered a pretty good workout. But there were consequences after that. A bit of the old 24-7 needling fear of the eventuality.

And now the icing on the cake is Harold Ramis. Now I really can't take it. John Candy left when I was too young to appreciate the loss. Orson Welles and Groucho Marx and Jimi Hendrix and Joey Ramone don't even seem like real humans in my brain's view of artistic icons with an impact. My own mother dying when I was 12 didn't hit me really. But Lou Reed and Harold Ramis = panic attack.

At this point, what with being able to reasonably live to really ripe old ages, just about any death feels too soon, untimely. Harold Ramis was only 69. Lou Reed was not even 80. This stinks.

It really stinks because it's a reminder that holy moses one day that's it. Gone. The heart stops beating, the lights go out. And what was once a thing that walked, talked, made actions which led to other actions that involved other people, setting off chains of events, is gone.

I approximate that about 98% of all "celebrity" deaths are meaningless in that no one who really made an impact on YOU is now gone. It's just media fodder to get you to watch and remember that time you sat on your tush watching a thing or hearing a thing. This includes politicians and most public figures beyond the world of entertainment by the way (Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr are obviously the biggest exceptions to my theory as can possibly be). But I'm mostly thinking of entertainers.

Also, and this is going to be crass, I'm frequently repulsed by the tone deaf insincere outpourings of false-grief over populist entertainers. There's something extremely annoying when common folk cry at the loss of the pop star who sang a meaningless ballad that reminded them (falsely) of their own life in the muck ("That song is about my life" - no it isn't, just shut up).

And I am definitely fed up with the blase "RIP"'s on the Twitter and Facebook and of course comments sections on websites (which ought to be banned because free speech is overrated but I digress) when anyone of some note dies. Congratulations chum, you've made your contribution to the current events of the day by repeating a heartless, meaningless acknowledgement that someone somewhere has taken the last train out of town. You really cared.

But this is all sideshow. Ultimately, what it goes back to is that when someone who did really truly affect you is no longer part of the existing Earth, it's a reminder of the end. There is almost no comfort. Obviously a prescribed religion is of comfort to some, or many. Eastern Asian philosophies make it a little more comforting because of the connection to nature and energy and a long term peace about the whole ambiance of everything. But one has to be suspect of such beliefs as well because of the fear that it might ultimately be meaningless. The one possible view I've half-cooked-up via inspiration from the likes of Carl Sagan, that is as comforting as it gets is this:

Maybe, possibly, could it be, I hope, that once I expire, the elements that made up my consciousness filter back into the elements that make up general matter and that if my consciousness doesn't get reconstituted in the form of another carbon-based life on Earth that I wind up being part of the general constitution of space. Maybe I'll be floating over Saturn like I've always wanted to do.

In a more concrete tangible version of the above mishegas, I recently heard about the possibility of transferring consciousness into a computer, not necessarily a robot but onto a server. An Internet server. And you live forever, or almost forever, that way. WOAH.

But even these scenarios - the "we are all made of stars reincarnation" scenario and the "ghost in the machine" scenario - have a bad end, if the theory of the universe expanding and everything fading out of existence holds up. Then there will truly be the ultimate nothing (See that scene in Annie Hall for further reference). What a pity.

So ultimately no matter what happens, it seems like that there's just going to be an end. I'm typing this, and I assume I will go on for at least a few minutes more doing other things after I click publish. But then after that, who knows? Who knows what except that one day I won't be able to type anymore. Or do anything. Just like how Lou Reed can't be cranky to anyone anymore (let alone actively remind us of "Waiting for the Man"). Or like how Harold Ramis won't be around to remind me of a 1980's comedy that shaped my ability to know what makes me laugh (and to forget less-than-funny things to come, of all kinds, in the 1990's).

There is actually one way out of this whole trip. The very unoriginal escapist notion that reality is a falsehood. And that I am the only person who is real and everyone and everything and all existence around me is a made-up fantasy of my brain and reality is something altogether different from what it appears. The big problem though with this theory is that I am surrounded by too many people who really do truly think they are the only person who might be real and act out as such in their treatment of others, so just to spite these narcissists I'm taking the position that reality is an agreed-upon truth and these brats need a lesson as such.


(I suppose part of the source of this spiel must be attributed to my father who did not have an internal parental censor when I was a child and rented movies like Stripes for me to watch which is how we got to this point where the death of Harold Ramis could spark such a ramble...though it's Ghostbusters that is obviously at the root of much this outpouring, 70's/80's comedy and spectral planes and fantastical science.)


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