60 Days to Live - to record the journey--however long or short it may be.
December 14, 2011 11:53 PM   Subscribe

I've been advised by doctors to prepare for death. "I believe that there is strength in facing reality, and then planning your demise on your own terms as best you can. And hey, if a miracle happens and we beat the odds, that is only a bonus. Facing reality doesn't mean denying a possible happy outcome. Look at my case for instance--I have surpassed 60 days, and I am not dead yet. I haven't counted how many days I am past my expiration date, but one could say that each day is a miracle now."

Dominique Mainon, Author/Screenwriter and guerrilla artist, has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. She now writes about her life (and incoming death), in either an attempt to make sense of it all, or to prepare the next person who finds themselves in the same fate. A fearless look straight into the face of a "personal apocalypse".
posted by jcterminal (44 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
she stopped posting. Is she still alive? :/
posted by timsneezed at 12:15 AM on December 15, 2011


Facebook updates as recently as Tuesday.
posted by gingerest at 12:19 AM on December 15, 2011


I might be the only one who feels like this, but I really feel that we should teach people, especially children, about death. Death is a part of life. Being afraid of death is like being afraid of a sunrise, or a summer breeze.

Hiding from it doesn't make it any less real. We are all going to die. You. Me. That guy over there. Your dad. My dad. The pizza guy. Ernest Borgnine. It's one of the only things we all have in common. Cherish it. Don't rail from it. Finity is pretty much the only thing I own.

Doesn't everybody's story deserve an end?
posted by Sphinx at 12:27 AM on December 15, 2011 [24 favorites]


Death is like birth, in a way. I don't look forward to death; I wish I could live forever, but if it happens to everyone, it can't be bad. Look at birth. Birth is a pretty traumatic experience, when you think about it. If people were somehow fully conscious and sentient with advanced thoughts, before they were born, and they knew that they were going to be born, they might fear birth!

Here's Five Reasons You Won't Die.
posted by Vibrissae at 1:33 AM on December 15, 2011


This is golden:

As far as death discussions go, that is where it really becomes difficult to speak frankly. I believe that if you know you are like 99.9% likely to die soon due to an illness, it is better to be able to spend quality time with those you love, to be able to say your goodbyes in a fun and peaceful way, and work on overcoming all of the fear related to how things will go down in the end game. Other people consider that to be a negative attitude, and think it is better to deny that outcome completely and seek that miracle cure that must be out there somewhere. There is a lot of burden placed on cancer patients to have a "positive attitude," and though I am all for positive attitude in general, it also implies to many cancer patients that they are failing if they can't keep it up. We often say that people "lost their battle" with cancer if they are die, and I find that rather disturbing. We didn't choose this disease. We are not LOSERS because our bodies eventually give out. The constant denial of reality can stress a person out and have an even worse effect in some cases. It is also a front that we put on to help keep other people from experiencing stress. But why should the cancer patient have to expend so much energy always pleasing other people. THEY are the healthier ones.

Not to mention the plethora of research I recall reading a couple of years ago that suggested positive attitude and cancer outcome were unrelated. The whole post that this excerpt came from is a nightmare to read. Reminds me of that "how doctors die" post that was on the Blue recently.
posted by Defenestrator at 1:36 AM on December 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


Just noticed the quote from the post is the next paragraph.
posted by Defenestrator at 1:37 AM on December 15, 2011


There was what I considered that fantastic video about death a year or two back. A gravely-voiced guy talking about death. I found it affirming, but cannot find it again.
posted by maxwelton at 1:57 AM on December 15, 2011


What a gem of a blog - it takes some serious emotional stability to approach death with that kind of grace and mindfulness.

(Also, wow, Vibrissae, I had no idea they let lunatics post on HuffPo! It must be some progressive equal-opportunity program they're trying out.)
posted by Mooseli at 2:50 AM on December 15, 2011


...one could say that each day is a miracle now.

This reminds me of something I saw Dick York say in a television interview back in the early '90s when he was fighting emphysema. He said something like:

"People talk about being 'born again'. I'm born every day. Every morning I wake up, and I say, 'Well, here I am!'"
posted by Mister Moofoo at 2:59 AM on December 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


if it happens to everyone, it can't be bad

Eh? How'd you work that one out?

I'm with Yudkowsky (YT video link to the Skepticon panel on "How Should Rationalists Approach Death?", should start at 11:20): death is bad. It's still bad if you ask "is death really bad?" in a portentous tone of voice.

It would be better for Mainon to live longer. This doesn't mean that she should deny reality: the quoted paragraph shows her facing up to reality in a way that many wouldn't. But she's making the best of a bad situation.
posted by pw201 at 3:26 AM on December 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Also, yeah, the HuffPo link should be entitled "Five Reasons Why Lanza Doesn't Understand Physics". Oh well.
posted by pw201 at 3:27 AM on December 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Doesn't understand? Probably, but I think he just doesn't care.
posted by hat_eater at 3:44 AM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Previously (not double, just other potentially related discussions):

A terrible, but beautiful heart.

The video I mentioned above: You're going to die
posted by maxwelton at 3:53 AM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I haven't counted how many days I am past my expiration date, but one could say that each day is a miracle now."

Stephen Jay Gould is worth reading in this situations. The average life expectancy of a terminal illness is usually terribly misleading when translated into a individual prognosis due to the myriad moderating factors that can determine how things play out.
posted by srboisvert at 4:16 AM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Death is not a sunrise or a summer breeze when it happens to a person this young. It's just not. It sucks.
posted by thinkpiece at 4:24 AM on December 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Re: the HuffPo article: It actually could be a lot worse - one of the recurring themes on the visionary-technology conference circuit this year has been that soon physical death will be conquered, and that people born recently will be able to live forever. This is inexplicably presented as a good thing.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:21 AM on December 15, 2011


Death is a part of life. Being afraid of death is like being afraid of a sunrise, or a summer breeze.

I think this sentiment wants to be "deep" and a bit transcendent, but it comes across as shallow, trite, unconsidered pap. People are afraid of death precisely because it's NOT a sunrise or a summer breeze. It's the end, for the person dying, and, in many ways, for those they love. Just because something is "natural" doesn't mean it's welcome. Pestilence, pain, all sorts of disasters, famine, disease, radiation...these things are all natural, and none of them are sunrises or purring kittens. Hell, not all cats are tabbies, some are cougars who will rip your fucking face off.

Sure, an overdeveloped fear of death is likely bad because it may well interfere with other life pursuits, but fearing death as a general proposition is totally rational.
posted by OmieWise at 5:45 AM on December 15, 2011 [10 favorites]


Suppose you are 49. Then according to the Social Security Administration actuary tables you got to go at age 78, giving you 29 years * 365 days = 10585 days.

That is a few more than 60 but 10585 days is not really a lot now, is it?
posted by bukvich at 6:27 AM on December 15, 2011


We are all going to die. You. Me. That guy over there. Your dad. My dad. The pizza guy. Ernest Borgnine.

I wouldn't be so quick to include Borgnine in that list. Seems to me that he's found (and keeps finding) the fountain of youth.
posted by any major dude at 6:35 AM on December 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'd love to see the distribution of expected longevity at diagnosis minus actual; that is, of the error.
posted by lathrop at 6:45 AM on December 15, 2011


Death is a part of life. Being afraid of death is like being afraid of a sunrise, or a summer breeze.

Natural Selection is a part of life. It shapes animals (including people) to be gene-propagation machines. We're extremely efficient when it come to that goal. A gene-propagation machine that doesn't fear death would be, in most causes, out-performed by one that does fear it. So we evolved to fear death. Which means that fearing death is just as natural as death, which is, as you pointed out, just as natural as a summer breeze.

In addition to that, I've had versions of this conversation pretty much all my life:

SOMEONE: Why should we fear death? Death is just part of life.

ME: Well, I don't fear my own death (as long as it isn't preceded by agonizing pain), but I'm terrified of losing my wife and other loved ones. Why wouldn't I be scared of that? There are people I'm close to, people who make my life meaningful, and inevitably some will die before I do. And once they do, I will never see them again. I may live for decades without seeing them, knowing they are gone for good. If I knew the future and could tell you, for sure, that the person you love the most will die next Wednesday at 3pm and you'll never seem him or her again, would you just say, "That's fine. It's natural. It doesn't bother me. It's like a summer breeze?"

SOMEONE: I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about fearing our own deaths.

Oh, okay. But my point is a pretty big one to ignore, no?

Also also... "I really feel that we should teach people, especially children, about death." You didn't know about death when you were a kid? You never had a grandparent or a pet die? You never read "Charlotte's Web"? By the time I was six, I was already pretty terrified of the reaper. And when my dad was six, he was sleeping in the London underground in order to avoid Nazi bombs. There are (and always have been) lots and lots of kinds who don't need to be taught about death.
posted by grumblebee at 7:13 AM on December 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


While I am not looking forward to death, the prospect of everyone living forever is not a welcome one; some of them will be nice like lots of you on metafilter, but others will be Dick Cheney.
posted by emjaybee at 7:44 AM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Being afraid of death is like being afraid of a sunrise, or a summer breeze.

It's the shit that leads up to death that can really fucking suck. I don't think it's that moment when you stop living that terrifies people so much as the pain and/or discomfort and/or loss of dignity that many of us will face at the end.
posted by amro at 8:00 AM on December 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's the shit that leads up to death that can really fucking suck. I don't think it's that moment when you stop living that terrifies people so much as the pain and/or discomfort and/or loss of dignity that many of us will face at the end.

Yeah. I suspect most of the "why are people afraid of death?" folks are really young. They're picturing a lovely patch of ground with fresh flowers on it. They're not picturing nursing homes that smell like pee, scary dementia, Chemotherapy and massive tumors.
posted by grumblebee at 8:07 AM on December 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


First - this woman is phenomenal, as is her attitude. Second? We suck as a society in dealing with the death concept. We have it all interlaced with fear - and money. Yes. Money.

Here's my fantasy world: we're born to parents who teach us that life is precious and wonderous and doesn't last forever. Someday we will die (insert whatever parents' beliefs are here with the codicil that child can adapt their own when they're old enough - for moi that would be a karmic sense: we're here now to learn, then go back to our source and return to refine the process. That's condensed of course for the sake of brevity. Rightly feel free to insert your own belief) They are not taught to fear death - they are taught it is a natural part of life and to respect it. In a loving way - this IS gonna happen. Deal with it.

Then as they age into adulthood? They are given options other than to feed the giant beast that is modern medicine ~ from the treatments to the nursing homes that make money off keeping people alive who have absolutely no quality of life *what so ever* because we are so afraid of death in this country that we have taken away a person's personal freedom to make the ultimate decision (yes - speaking from personal experience that makes that more fact in my mind than mere thought.) Personal "educated" choices offered, free of - fear.

The perspective this woman offers is beyond healthy and valuable. Death is the ultimate fear in us all ... vanish it and what a gift that is. Easy? Hell no. The right thing to do? For heaven's sake - yes.

End vent. Thank you.
posted by cdalight at 8:51 AM on December 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


My stock response:

Aubade

I work all day, and get half-drunk at night.
Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare.
In time the curtain-edges will grow light.
Till then I see what's really always there:
Unresting death, a whole day nearer now,
Making all thought impossible but how
And where and when I shall myself die.
Arid interrogation: yet the dread
Of dying, and being dead,
Flashes afresh to hold and horrify.
The mind blanks at the glare. Not in remorse
- The good not done, the love not given, time
Torn off unused - nor wretchedly because
An only life can take so long to climb
Clear of its wrong beginnings, and may never;
But at the total emptiness for ever,
The sure extinction that we travel to
And shall be lost in always. Not to be here,
Not to be anywhere,
And soon; nothing more terrible, nothing more true.

This is a special way of being afraid
No trick dispels. Religion used to try,
That vast, moth-eaten musical brocade
Created to pretend we never die,
And specious stuff that says No rational being
Can fear a thing it will not feel, not seeing
That this is what we fear - no sight, no sound,
No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with,
Nothing to love or link with,
The anasthetic from which none come round.

And so it stays just on the edge of vision,
A small, unfocused blur, a standing chill
That slows each impulse down to indecision.
Most things may never happen: this one will,
And realisation of it rages out
In furnace-fear when we are caught without
People or drink. Courage is no good:
It means not scaring others. Being brave
Lets no one off the grave.
Death is no different whined at than withstood.

Slowly light strengthens, and the room takes shape.
It stands plain as a wardrobe, what we know,
Have always known, know that we can't escape,
Yet can't accept. One side will have to go.
Meanwhile telephones crouch, getting ready to ring
In locked-up offices, and all the uncaring
Intricate rented world begins to rouse.
The sky is white as clay, with no sun.
Work has to be done.
Postmen like doctors go from house to house.

Philip Larkin
posted by lalochezia at 8:52 AM on December 15, 2011 [13 favorites]


Suppose you are 49. Then according to the Social Security Administration actuary tables you got to go at age 78, giving you 29 years * 365 days = 10585 days.

That is a few more than 60 but 10585 days is not really a lot now, is it?


I half-remember reading about a guy who had looked at actuarial tables and worked out that he had let's-say-14,000 more days to go statistically speaking. To remind himself to cherish them all and to use his time well, he drew up a big graph (100 squares by 140, for our example) and trained himself to methodically fill in one with an X every morning to remind him that whatever time he had, it was growing shorter every day.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:29 AM on December 15, 2011


I remember my cancer stricken 27 year old sister sobbing about the fact that she was planning her funeral while her friends were planning their weddings. Death may be natural and a part of life, but it sure as shit isn't fair. That's what I think most people are afraid of when we talk about a "fear" of death. It's not so much the actual dieing so much as it is the fact that you have to set aside your goals and dreams when it comes time to accept the reality of imminent death and work out the calculus of your life to determine if you're "happy" with what you have been allotted in life. That's what I think people fear-- the fact that they may realize the "I am not a very good person" or "I have not achieved anything of note or personal satisfaction in my life" or more terrifyingly, "I thought more people loved me and will miss me when I am gone."
posted by KingEdRa at 10:10 AM on December 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


I remember my cancer stricken 27 year old sister sobbing about the fact that she was planning her funeral while her friends were planning their weddings. Death may be natural and a part of life, but it sure as shit isn't fair. That's what I think most people are afraid of when we talk about a "fear" of death. It's not so much the actual dieing so much as it is the fact that you have to set aside your goals and dreams when it comes time to accept the reality of imminent death and work out the calculus of your life to determine if you're "happy" with what you have been allotted in life. That's what I think people fear-- the fact that they may realize the "I am not a very good person" or "I have not achieved anything of note or personal satisfaction in my life" or more terrifyingly, "I thought more people loved me and will miss me when I am gone."

Agreed KingEdRa - but that's my point that it would be so healthy (and a pipe dream I also realize) to have kids taught from day one that death is coming - it's a natural part of life, it can be random, it can be seemingly unfair ... so best to be the best person you can be "because" you never know. Kids are rad and resilient and so much smarter than we give them credit for - they could handle it if genuinely offered with a loving intent grounded in a truth the parent themselves truly believed. And maybe it would incline those children to be --- better people, achieve more, find personal satisfaction in their lives, feel and give love --- sooner rather than later, and for them to do so motivated by an appreciation for life ~ not fear.
posted by cdalight at 10:34 AM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, yeah, the HuffPo link should be entitled "Five Reasons Why Lanza Doesn't Understand Physics". Oh well.

Lanza quotes Einstein: Einstein: "After the death of his old friend, Albert Einstein said "Now Besso has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us...know that the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion."

I suppose Einstein didn't understand physics? The larger point of Lanza's piece seems lost on you.
posted by Vibrissae at 11:16 AM on December 15, 2011


As science seems to be closing in on arresting aging I often wonder what it would be like if these discoveries come too late for me and I am too old to be saved, yet know most everyone younger than I would live much longer than I could have hoped for. Also, I wonder if after 100-150 years of life, death might not be welcomed.
posted by UseyurBrain at 12:15 PM on December 15, 2011


The older I get, the more I realise that the idea of immortality horrifies me at a deeply primal level of my being.

I think fear of death afflicts the young more than it does the old. I fear dying, but I do not fear death. Eternal existence would be a horror beyond imagining. We are temporal and temporary beings. Fantasies of eternity reflect a lack of imagination and a sort of sad spiritual immaturity.

And now, just to annoy certain people I dislike intensely, I shall quote Richard Dawkins.

We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Sahara. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively outnumbers the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.

posted by Decani at 12:57 PM on December 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's the shit that leads up to death that can really fucking suck. I don't think it's that moment when you stop living that terrifies people so much as the pain and/or discomfort and/or loss of dignity that many of us will face at the end.

I disagree. The thought of one's own nonexistence, taken seriously, is horrifying beyond imagining. It has a lot to do with powerlessness: if you care about the world or anything in it, death will take you beyond the possibility of doing anything about it. It strikes me that this whole saying-goodbye-to-your-loved-ones business is mostly about dealing with that aspect of the fear by reassuring yourself that you're leaving things more or less the way that you want them.
posted by baf at 1:06 PM on December 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


For me the scary part is the uncertainty and inability to control when it happens. If it were like mandatory retirement from a satisfying career -- "Okay, sometime in the next N years, I have to hang up my hat, so I should work out a timeline for that and start training my successor" -- I think I'd be better able to cope with the idea. As is, it's more like getting fired unexpectedly and without cause.

If you knew with 100% certainty that sometime in the next few decades you'd get shitcanned, but that there was absolutely no way to know when, would you feel so good about showing up to work?
posted by nebulawindphone at 1:17 PM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


The thought of one's own nonexistence, taken seriously, is horrifying beyond imagining.

That strikes me as a bit dramatically narcissistic, but to each his own.
posted by amro at 1:21 PM on December 15, 2011


When I learned (via phone call from a doctor) that my Mom was going to die, I was shocked. I don't know WHY I was shocked...she was 85. To me, she was definitely going to be one of those people who would live to 100 easy. I got a book from the library to help me process "the shock". I read it cover to cover on the plane when I went to go see my Mother (and to say goodbye). I don't know the name of the book now, but I was so grateful for it, because the author educated me on how dying people would like to be treated. Number one, they are seldom given any opportunity to talk about dying, because (as this blogger and her other dying blogger friend pointed out) everyone wants to offer advice on how not to die. Not helpful when the die has been cast.

What do dying people need most? According to the book I read...a chance to just talk about anything for as long as they want. The author called it "phycological air". When I saw my Mom, I took the authors advice, I let her just talk and talk and talk. When and if she talked about anything "grim" I just let her, and I didn't say "oh now, don't say that"--I "let" her say it. My Mom knew that I did NOT want her to check out...but she also got to tell me how she really felt and I'm not sure I wouldn't have been shushing her without having read that book. Our culture does not "accept" death. I think the blog is great for this young woman ...because it is a way to achieve "phycological air" and she'll help others understand in the process.
posted by naplesyellow at 2:17 PM on December 15, 2011


Carl always had some powerful truthy words about the acceptance of mortality.
posted by FatherDagon at 4:14 PM on December 15, 2011


"I thought more people loved me and will miss me when I am gone."

If Facebook has taught me anything, it's that I am remembered and cherished by a lot fewer people from my past than I would have hoped.
posted by maxwelton at 4:20 PM on December 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I suppose Einstein didn't understand physics? The larger point of Lanza's piece seems lost on you.


That's an interesting point. I think Einstein is smart enough to believe that the difference between his molecules dead and his molecules alive is something which is subjectively very important to him, but objectively not very important to the universe. I think Lanza is saying something different - that consciousness requires so little energy that it will keep going without the body to power it. Which is a nice thought, but when I turn off the light switch, the energy-efficient lights don't keep running in perpetuity. It's possible that my consciousness is independent of the systems that keep my body moving, but I don't think conventional physics covers that possibility.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:11 PM on December 15, 2011


"The thought of one's own nonexistence, taken seriously, is horrifying beyond imagining."

I don't think it's that it's horrifying beyond imagining - it's just unimaginable. As far as I know, we all live our lives and run our imaginations in the first person - how can I imagine a world without me? I imagine it from my perspective, which won't exist. It's a paradox.
posted by gingerest at 9:46 PM on December 15, 2011


By that reasoning, it's also unimaginable for you to be unconscious.
posted by baf at 1:54 AM on December 16, 2011


I was petit mal epileptic as a teen. I thus have a lot of experience transitioning back and forth between consciousness and unconsciousness. It was seamless. It was bewildering. It still is only imaginable when imagining regaining consciousness. But - no duh- ymmv.
posted by gingerest at 2:58 AM on December 16, 2011


She's something else. What a writer! It takes real jam to face things head on and write about them as they are happening, which is of course the only way she can get it onto the page, for her and for us, because she'd be gone and take her words with her if she tried to wait.

I've emphasized "as they are happening" because it's always oh so much easier to talk/write about things once you're on the other side, but damndably hard to face even myself—much less you—on the page when in the middle of whatever it is that is nailing me. I'll tell you afterwards, once I've got it into a nice pretty package, once I can tell you how cool I am to have solved it, and aren't I something. She's got the jam not just to write it—which itself takes courage—but to give it to us, to put it out there for us, in real time. Guts.

I've not read the entire blog, not yet, but most of it. I wonder how she writes, does she maybe get it transcribed and entered in?


Her frank discussion of her sexuality as it stands now, her sadnesses that it's behind her now:

… But back to the latent sexual desire. I must admit, when facing death, there is usually a massive need to reaffirm life in some way, sex is one of the most obvious. I've felt frantic several times in past, like the night before my left breast was cut off, to just do SOMETHING with the damn thing before it was gone. This disease is so cruel. It chips away at your sexuality, and even your gender identity. In the doctor's care one becomes a hairless, boobless, sexless alien creature. Even my toenails have started falling off due to lack of circulation. I can't even be allowed to have nice feet! WTF?

So I may start drawing cartoon penises soon. …


She's the picture of courage. Doesn't she rock? Her illness has taken so much from her, ends up she's in that goddamn chair and can't move her upper body, her body is scarred and torn and sickened and dying and she's writing to tell us about it. Damn.


My brother died from lung cancer this spring, late winter maybe. March. A year ago about now I was hopping onto a train to go to Phoenix to see him for what I pretty much knew was our last visit, I damn sure knew the numbers, and they weren't good. Small-cell lung cancer, you don't want to get that one.

We went to movies, watched movies on DVD, I helped him set up his scanner for a repetitive task, scanning photos of sports memorabilia that he sold for a few extra bucks here and there, the whole time I'm screaming inside "What the fucking fuck are you doing here? Face it! Do the real things." See, I don't know shit, and also it seems I'm a judgmental prick; I wanted him to do what this woman is doing, not write about it but just to face it the way that she has, but sometimes people want to watch movies with their wife and their brother, and it's their business to live however they want to live, and face it however they do.

And I didn't want to take from him that will to live so many talk about, that part that keeps you fighting in the face of the cancer and, almost worse, the treatments for that cancer. So the things that comforted him helped him, though for me, to watch hollywood films I suspect I'd get cancer, or want to.

He'd had Parkinson's come on to him about four years prior, he was in just one hell of a fight with it all, told me he'd rather just the cancer than the damn Parkinson's, as it just took so much from him, and it damn sure did take from him, and more and more all the time. Young, he was amazingly strong, vital, active; he was dead at 63, Parkinson's, cancer. So often I've thought of Jack London's stories, Hemingway too but mostly London, those tales of strong proud animals brought down after long, valiant fights, torn to shreds, eaten by slavering wolf-packs. I still don't believe it, my brother I mean, I can't believe any of it, I'm shocked and I'm awed, it just hurt so fucking bad and it still does, too.


Somebody upthread wrote about the possibility—I think probability—that aging can be stopped, and life continued for a long, long time, dependent of course upon car wrecks, deadly illnesses, having to watch hollywood movies, etc and etc. I've already been given another chance, died July 2004 from a bunch of heart attacks, and worse than the fact of the being dead part was how long I was dead without oxygen to my brain and heart; I was a ways off from the hospital, friend of mine got me there as he could but still.

What these guys did was/is nothing short of amazing, not only bringing a guy back from dead over and again, not only slapping a damn stent into my cardiac artery so it wouldn't happen again, but also how they prevented the horrific brain damage I ought to have suffered, would have suffered were it not for brilliant medical technologies and great doctors. Long story short, cold blankets; they get your ass cold and keep your ass cold, only allow you to slowly warm up, amazing technology, and Austin an early adopter; in most places then, in 2004, wave me goodbye.

So I'm far past my expiration date for sure, and I ought not to want to live forever, according to what some upthread have written, and I've seen it written elsewhere, too, as if living a long time is not a great thing. And yeah, I know Cheney is a big fat cock-bite motherfucker and if people live longer he would too, but Ghandi would have lived longer also, and Claude Monet, and Joseph Heller, and on and on and on. (Heller absolutely helped form my ideas about life/death, the words he put into Yossarian's mouth, the ideas in that book, Yo determined to live forever or die trying—I think that's just the best.) And no, I wouldn't want to live on if I'm brain-dead, demented, or suffering cancer, living in southern California, etc.

But I want want want want to see more of Kandinsky's paintings, the early ones too but mostly the ones where he just went free, before he retreated to geometric forms, and I want again to walk down Michigan Avenue on a soft summer night and flirt with the beauties in Millennium Park, I want to talk to my sister Judith, I want to drive my pickup, which is sure prettier than yours is, and better in every way. Maybe get back to Europe, or NYC, or visit Montreal. One of my other brothers raises/trades/shows Belgian draft horses, I love to go out with him and do chores, step in horse-shit give them oats, and corn, feel of their necks—those horses are something else. My life is limited, I've absolutely got my problems, but I still love the things I love, I know that this joint is an amazing show and I don't want to miss it. This place is beautiful.


After reading about the Von Trier movie Melancholia on her blog I knew what I wanted to do, a little present to myself was to see that flick, in a sweet theater, too, great sound system. The movie is great, I get why Mainon got so hooked into it, shows very closely a small group of peoples reaction to their impending doom, in particular two sisters, both of whom I want to marry right now. I loved how they swapped roles as death approached, the totally together, orderly, get-everything-done-right sister (played so well by Charlotte Gainsbourg; godDAMN she's lovely) unwinding at things totally beyond her control while the wack-job sister (played by Kirsten Dunst), totally used to chaos and crisis and knowing that life is a big knob-job anyways, she faced their deaths with complete aplomb, with panache, she helped the together sister as much as her sister had ever helped her.

Mainon, how she asks the big questions, how do we face our deaths, how would you face yours? I don't remember how I faced mine, lack of oxygen wiped all memory of it from when the heart attacks started up the night before I died and all the way through about a week or two after I came out of the coma; I've been told I was in complete denial that I was having damn heart attacks, I knew I was in trouble but who'd ever have thought heart attacks? I was in remarkable shape, physically. Suicide, yeah, but heart attacks? I didn't see it and neither would you have. I'd like to hope that I'd face death with class, next time it happens, which I hope isn't any time soon.


And Mainon hits life after death, too, if any; she's brave and she's broad, too, she's all over the map, she covers the whole of the terrain. I can't tell you how annoyed I am that I don't remember being dead, for all I know I hung out with my ex-wife and Abraham Lincoln and Joan of Arc, probably we went out on a cool double-date, saw a double bill, Stevie Ray and Janice Joplin, and it was a great show, but I couldn't tell you. Annoying. I've read about it for all of my adult life, not obsessed with it but very interested, it's fascinating to me that across so many cultures there are so many commonalities, that yeah, this culture calls it Leviticus and that culture calls it Jesus or angels and this other culture calls it whatever but no matter the name they stick on it, remarkably similar experiences.

My father, about as sober a reporter as you'll find, a no-nonsense Baptist, standing next to the road in front of his house he got hit by a car mirror, car doing about forty or forty-five, spun him hard and threw him hard, and he was gone. It's not like he bragged on what happened, I didn't know for a few years, but when much to my amazement he did tell me, one night at their dining room table, he reported a very sweet experience, that there was no fear whatsoever, totally peaceful, was led to a place of choice, this way lay what he said is heaven, and down this other road his life, and he was worried about my sister and he considered that and that was his choice, he came out of the experience, opened his eyes and there's an EMT looking at him, and he asked my father was he okay, my father heard my mother carrying on, and he told the EMT to go take care of her. My dad was a trip. He lived a few more years, maybe a decade, I dunno, long enough to see my sisters situation resolved, that was nice.

I go on. This is a big topic for me, I truly do admire her, love what she's given us. Don't you just love the clock face image on her blog, with no hands on it—that just so rocks.
posted by dancestoblue at 3:48 AM on December 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


I suppose Einstein didn't understand physics?

Dammit, you made me read it again.

1. "According to biocentrism, nothing could exist without consciousness." - "biocentrism" is something Lanza made up.

Einstein believed in the B theory of time, from what I can make out (take that, William Lane Craig). That doesn't mean no-one dies: there are regions of space-time where that person is not.

2. Goes from the accepted statement of conservation of energy to quantum woo-woo in two paragraphs.

3. Many worlds is a solution to the measurement problem which doesn't privilege consciousness, but he's just written his "ooh, double slit, conscious observer" stuff in point 1 (where's the obligatory mention of Schroedinger's cat, though?) Doesn't know what he's talking about.

4."You will live on through your children, friends, and all who you touch during your life": obvious truism, followed by more quantum woo-woo. Nothing there means that people don't die. We did get the obligatory mention of Schroedinger's cat, though.

5. I have no idea what this means. It's not even wrong.

The larger point of Lanza's piece seems lost on you.

The wider point of Lanza's piece is to sell copies of his book. He's down there in the woo-woo gutter with Deepak Chopra, another HuffPo favourite. My advice: forget Lanza and read more of Ms Mainon.
posted by pw201 at 5:09 AM on December 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


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