Posts Tagged ‘death’

The consumption of life

November 11, 2007

Enjoy what life has to offer! A very strange piece of advice. Is life (as such?!) a player on a market? Whose offers are you ignoring if you accept life’s? Is it a package deal, or can you mix & match? What is the cost?

Let’s call this the consumerist attitude to life. Life, on this view tries to woe you in, keeps making you offers and all you need to do is accept. You seem to have been assigned a rather passive role.

Wait, you might say, isn’t the point rather that you should enjoy what life has to offer, as opposed to being displeased with it? But that seems to make you even more passive: life is now making you offers, you are to accept them, and, out of principle, adopt a certain kind of attitude towards them. You are still a consumer, but now you are supposed to be a happy one, too!

Death – still a bad idea

October 29, 2007

To be dead is presumably not so bad. There’s the pain and fear of the process of dying, of course. But once you’re dead, that’s over, so nothing to worry about. But even if you choose wisely and avoid at least the pain, there is still the prospect of death, which might be worse than dying.

The prospect of death is of course daunting throughout our lives, but it seems we do a pretty good job of ignoring this fact for the most part. It is not just that we ignore the sheer fact that we are going to die one day, it is that we usually comfort ourselves by thinking that death, thought certain, will not meet us in the near future. Near future is here loosely defined. It can mean: at least 5 years, or at least 20.

Crucially, it has to be long enough to make our current projects worthwhile to us. When thinking about whether or not to learn a new language, meet a new partner or move to a different city, we assume quite naturally that such a step will enhance our lives, we do not normally  consider that we might die before being able to enjoy the fruits of such an effort. We do not think that it is too late for us to engage in such an activity. It is this innocence that much of our lives depends on and that we loose when we have to face the prospect of dying soon. This real prospect of death is frightening. Once this naiveté is lost, life is only towards death.