To ‘be’ dead is an affirmation of life because the dead ‘are’ dead, at least from the point of view of the living.
Indeed! The negative parts of life are understood in terms of their presence, including those that project absence or loss. The dead have a way of being part of life.
In other words, death, that ultimate of endings, is made real and present, affirmed somehow.
It’s the only way for the concept to make sense.
The alternative is tricky, perhaps impossible in terms of waking, intelligent life. For something to be truly dead in the ‘non-existent,’ ‘nothing’ sense of the term, it must never be mentioned. It can’t ever be spoken of, remembered, chronicled, recollected, or otherwise referenced, ever.
This, of course, is easier said than done. We tend to talk about the passing away of things that used to be part of our lives. We are fascinated with the notion of death itself, as a concept, constantly evoking its presence. We don’t easily give in to the idea of expiration in terms of never mentioning things again. We mark them as absent, understanding their non-existence in terms of a state if being rescinded. Once among us, but not anymore.
This concept, of course, is more close to oblivion than death.
Oblivion is, in itself, another negative — an absence given form. To mention something forgotten, something that has passed into oblivion, and which rests in limbo, somewhere beyond our reality, all of that incurs the price of reforming what no longer exists, transforming it in terms of something currently erased from reality, perhaps memory, something that is lost, is forgotten, which is a paradox in itself. Oblivion! — an oxymoron; a state of being that describes a non-state of being, contradicting its own ontology.
Still, for all its self-contradictions, oblivion is the closest we, the living, will ever get to the notion of death/dead/gone/passed-on/no-more/game-over.
It’s as close as the dead and obliterated will get to not existing in any manner whatsoever. Somehow turned into a self-negating tautology that defines their absence in terms of something the present can place in their heads, and understand in terms of function, in relation to everything that exists.
To die, on the other hand — sorry, there is no other hand. To die is fundamentally paradoxical, too. An oxymoronic situation that frames itself in terms of the living, casting death as a function of existence. To die — the passing from the state of ‘is’ to the state of ‘gone,’ implying a permanent dissolution — is a reminder of how life works, how brittle, momentary, and fleeting it is.
Intrigued? Watch this space for more.
From the collection of writings EON: THE ANGRY COMING OF AGE