The Meaningness of Death
It is in the nature of modernity to value youth over old age. As each generation grows up under tangibly different conditions, by the time we are old, we are culturally ancient. On the other hand, if one is engaged in a project of meaningness, the longer we do it the more we manage to grab our personhood and consciousness. Thereby, one would imagine old age being valued higher than youth, since the young are still slaves under the cultural norms of their generation; still bits of filth waiting to mature into human beings. In this sense, a human life is not like a leaf of a tree in the north, sprouting in the spring, being full and productive in providing resources for the trunk during summer and fading, crumbling, and finally falling off in autumn. No, the life of a human being sincerely engaging with self and others, taking responsibility for her personhood and transformations, is like the tree itself, growing ever stronger and wider with age and the changing seasons1.
In fiction, a common trope is the person with eternal life, a blessing which turns into a curse as all that one once found important withers away and all loose its significance2. What these stories tend to catch very well is that what once seemed important to the culture-savvy adult either becomes completely void of meaning or becomes a source of nostalgia with the perspective of extra-human time. What they in general fail to grasp is the enormous possibility that comes with such a perspective. Eternal life would not be a curse to a person who engages sincerely with the world, Eachother and self–it would present an opportunity to continue the project of meaningness indefinitely.
And therein lies the weakness of this philosophising. We all die, and I have found no way to sincerely engage with death. I have heard people say that death is what gives life meaning, but I find this perspective impossible to reconciliate with sincerity and meaningness, rather it seems to provide an object for our distractions. The death of a human being cannot be meaningful. On the other hand, no one can experience one’s death. All we can do is remain sincere till the end. For someone’s personal project or meaningness, death is but a
I was told that death is a part of living,
something with which people of all times deal.
That it is a ridiculous modern misgiving,
this end of life-anxiety which we feel.
“Old people just have to handle it’s vicinity,
believe in afterlife, incarnation, void, or divinity.”
And I believed what I was told, and I sneered at those who were anxious
(also at myself)
And then I thought that: life–it is a project! And then I thought that: each person is infinite!
Each year that we live brings us closer to ourselves, each year that we live brings us closer to Eachother.
An afterlife then would be a continuation
me as an eternal project just begun.
Never becoming, always in transformation
Then why bother dying?
Now I see death as a provocation.
Please, help me with my reconciliation!
For without afterlife or incarnation,
of our never-finished transformation,
death is nothing but truncation.
TT, Thinking of Things, 2015.