Tag Archives | Death

“A Death” By Stephen King

wazimu0 (CC BY 2.0)

wazimu0 (CC BY 2.0)

Stephen King’s short story, “A Death” (originally titled “The Man in the Black Suit”) is released in this month’s edition of the The New Yorker:

Jim Trusdale had a shack on the west side of his father’s gone-to-seed ranch, and that was where he was when Sheriff Barclay and half a dozen deputized townsmen found him, sitting in the one chair by the cold stove, wearing a dirty barn coat and reading an old issue of the Black Hills Pioneer by lantern light. Looking at it, anyway.

Sheriff Barclay stood in the doorway, almost filling it up. He was holding his own lantern. “Come out of there, Jim, and do it with your hands up. I ain’t drawn my pistol and don’t want to.”

Trusdale came out. He still had the newspaper in one of his raised hands. He stood there looking at the sheriff with his flat gray eyes.

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Take Me to the Death Cafe

hans van den berg (CC BY 2.0)

hans van den berg (CC BY 2.0)

Sophie Elmhirst writing at Prospect Magazine:

In the middle of the graveyard in Vissoie, a small town in the Swiss mountain valley of Anniviers, stands a grey stone cross. For years, the cross was the focus of a local competition among the town’s teenagers. The brief was simple: turn up at midnight, sit by the cross, and whoever lasts the longest wins. By day, the task doesn’t seem too onerous. The graveyard is absurdly picturesque, perched on the side of a hill next to the church, the valley dropping away to a river, mountains on the far side rising up against a faultless blue sky. Even the graves are palatable: there’s no ornate Victoriana here, no ghoulishness or mawkish angels, no sentimental inscriptions; just a few rows of simple wooden crosses planted in the ground. (A rule was declared in the town that the dead should all be commemorated identically, to prevent wealth-displaying one-upmanship.)

Not long ago, Bernard Crettaz, an eminent Swiss sociologist who was born and raised in Vissoie, sat on a stone wall by the shared grave of his parents—Pierre and Genevieve—and recalled his year of competition.

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The Oddly Reassuring Quality of Surrealistic Art

Giorgio de Chirico's 'The Red Tower,' 1913. (Photo: Public Domain)

Giorgio de Chirico’s ‘The Red Tower,’ 1913. (Photo: Public Domain)

Tom Jacobs writes at Pacific Standard:

A person’s taste in art is generally thought to be unchanging. A lover of Renaissance frescoes, for instance, isn’t likely to suddenly become entranced by the abstract paintings of Jackson Pollock.

But recently published research suggests one specific, uncomfortable circumstance can inspire us to appreciate a wider range of work. It finds people are more likely to forge a positive emotional connection with surrealistic art if they have just been reminded of their own mortality.

It has long been argued that, in the face of existential threats, art can evoke a comforting aura of collective meaning and transcendence. That’s a fairly obvious dynamic with sacred works, but it can also be true of secular images that serve as poignant reminders of the beliefs that give one’s life meaning.

Somewhat counter-intuitively, a research team led by psychologist Verena Graupmann of DePaul University reports surrealistic art can serve this same purpose.

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Man Roasts to Death in Sauna

Who wants bacon? Kjetil Ree (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Who wants bacon? Kjetil Ree (CC BY-SA 2.0)

This sounds like the beginning of a horror movie.

via The New York Daily News:

A Florida family is now scarred with the image of a loved one’s body charred and without chunks of skin after he died while sitting for hours in a malfunctioning sauna Sunday.

The family of 68-year-old Dennis Antiporek said the North Miami Beach resident left a note at his home that said he was headed to the sauna at his Eden Isles Condominiums. After a few hours his daughter Lara Antiporek went to the spa to look for him.

She opened the door and said she saw a man whose skin was a dark color. She didn’t realize it was actually her light-skinned father of Polish and Russian descent until she noticed his clothing hanging up nearby, according to CBS Miami.

A Florida family is now scarred with the image of a loved one’s body charred and without chunks of skin after he died while sitting for hours in a malfunctioning sauna Sunday.

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Joe Cocker, impassioned voice of ’60s rock and blues, dead at 70

via Mashable:

Joe Cocker, the British singer whose impassioned, gravel-voiced covers of popular rock and blues songs were an indelible sound of 1960s counterculture, has died at age 70 after a battle with lung cancer.

Cocker died Monday at his home in Colorado, first reported by U.K. websites The Yorkshire Post and ITV News, and later confirmed by the BBC.

Cocker lent his voice to the songs of many fellow rock artists, but perhaps none more memorably than The Beatles’ “With a Little Help From My Friends” which, despite being released on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band just the year before, was his breakthrough, hitting No. 1 in the U.K. in 1968.

Twenty years later it would become the theme song to The Wonder Years, though nothing will top Cocker’s performance at Woodstock in ’69:

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Death Should be Optional

Max von Sydow and Bengt Ekerot in “The Seventh Seal”

Max von Sydow and Bengt Ekerot in “The Seventh Seal”

via H+ Magazine:

Now more than ever, the topic of death is marked by no shortage of diverging opinions.

On the one hand, there are serious thinkers — Ray Kurzweil, Hans Moravec, Michio Kaku, Marshall Brain, Aubrey de Grey and others — who foresee that technology may enable humans to defeat death. There are also dissenters who argue that this is exceedingly unlikely. And there are those like Bill Joy who think that such technologies are technologically feasible but morally reprehensible.

As a non-scientist I am not qualified to evaluate scientific claims about what science can and cannot do. What I can say is that plausible scenarios for overcoming death have now appeared. This leads to the following questions: If individuals could choose immortality, should they? Should societies fund and promote research to defeat death?

The question regarding individuals has a straightforward answer: We should respect the right of autonomous individuals to choose for themselves.

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The Transhumanist Wager: Can We and Should We Defeat Death?

"Pascal’s Wager advances a pragmatic argument for the existence of the Christian God."

“Pascal’s Wager advances a pragmatic argument for the existence of the Christian God.”

via h+ Magazine:

The Transhumanist Wager, brainchild of noted transhumanist Zoltan Istvan, can be understood as follows. If one loves and values their life, then they will want (the option) to live as long as possible. How do they achieve this?

Alternative #1 – do nothing and hope there is an afterlife. But since you don’t know there is an afterlife, doing nothing doesn’t help your odds.

Alternative #2 – use science and technology to gain immortality. By doing something you are increasing your odds of being immortal.

The choice is between bettering your odds or not, and good gamblers say the former is the better choice. At least that’s what the arguments supporters say.

There are two basic obstacles that prevent individuals from taking the wager seriously. First, most people don’t think immortality is technologically possible or, if they do, believe such technologies won’t be around for centuries or millenia.

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Halloween’s Origin Story

Halloween

For this latest spooky October post, I wanted to cut to the chase. I’ve grown a little bit impatient with the month. So, here’s a nice little primer on the Celtic roots of the Halloween holiday and its evolution through the ages to the seemingly silly, scary celebration we know today.

Do the souls of the dead roam free during this time of the year? Are the ghosts friendly? What should I do as someone who lives on a former plantation just off the Trail of Tears in the South?

This video illuminates the evolution of the Roman Catholic Church in its relationship to the frustrating tradition of Samhain in the weird, old magickal world.

The story ultimately comes home to America where our current holiday finds youngsters and adults embracing both the macabre and the sexy. This piece even gets into the arson-crazed Detroit “Devil’s Night” bombings that I grew up with in the Motor City.… Read the rest

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First hint of ‘life after death’ in biggest ever scientific study

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By fady habib via Flickr. (CC by 2.0)

via The Telegraph:

Death is a depressingly inevitable consequence of life, but now scientists believe they may have found some light at the end of the tunnel.

The largest ever medical study into near-death and out-of-body experiences has discovered that some awareness may continue even after the brain has shut down completely.

It is a controversial subject which has, until recently, been treated with widespread scepticism.

But scientists at the University of Southampton have spent four years examining more than 2,000 people who suffered cardiac arrests at 15 hospitals in the UK, US and Austria.

And they found that nearly 40 per cent of people who survived described some kind of ‘awareness’ during the time when they were clinically dead before their hearts were restarted.

One man even recalled leaving his body entirely and watching his resuscitation from the corner of the room.

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Punching Stagnant Ideology In The Face With Daniele Bolelli

I’m happy to announce the Gabriel D. Roberts podcast’s second edition features Daniele Bolelli!  We cover an awful lot of ground in this fantastic and thoughtful conversation.  You can download or stream this baddy, so do it!

 

Also check out my book, The Quest For Gnosis, where I speak with Daniele and 19 other luminaries about Gnosis in the modern context.  You’ll love it.

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