Sunday, May 07, 2006

Death's dream kingdom: sad, unforeseen news

When we talk about death, we really always talk about life. It is moreover very clear that with death pure materialism will simply never do. This is not to posit anything about a pre-existing empirical reality but discussing what meaning if any we can create into our lifes. Of course, a pre-existing empirical reality may or may not exist - but that is not what our experience here is ever really concerned with. This point I suppose is related to what Nietzsche aimed in his clumsy, plodding way to express, drawing only, as always, the most inane imaginable conclusions. So, we are measured by death, by life and to choose love, to give up all our imaginary power is the only meaningful test we are faced with here. A cold coming we certainly have had of it, and all failures are pre-excused, but not all fail, not always.


helsinkian said...

What a poetic post. The one thing that I always think of death is that after we die, we keep on living in the memories of those who remember us. Many people who inspire me have died, or indeed have been dead before I was born.

To me feeling a sense of community with the dead is not an issue of spiritist seances and supernatural mysticism; what those who were before us and those we have buried gave us is their legacy. Carrying on this legacy and trying to improve things sound to me like good starting points for finding a meaning of life.

Death is present in life, the death of others and the knowledge of everyone's mortality. Those who are knowledgeable of their own mortality are often better able to focus on the really big things. It can also be depressing but it needn't be. Our life is just a link between past and future generations. We have a legacy and a planet we hopefully can preserve to those who come after us.

stockholm slender said...

Burke I think saw the society as a consisting of the dead, the living and the ones yet to be born. I am an agnostic, but this does not preclude spirituality - basically only the most fundamentalist religion and the most positivist science would preclude it. I was unexpectedly concretely confronted by death only two weeks go (it has seemed like a much longer time), and this was the most I felt able to say on the subject in general terms. A very fearful subject in many ways.

helsinkian said...

Death as a subject is very fearful and personal, yet it must be one of the all time favorite subjects of poets.

Can you elaborate on what being an agnostic means to you? An atheist once had a conversation with me on religion and said that I'm an agnostic. I'm not sure what I am but does that automatically make me an agnostic? I've never wanted to be labeled as such, perhaps because knowing to be an agnostic is a sign of certainty and my religious worldview is not a product of certainty.

For me formulating my position on religion is actually very difficult since I'd like to occupy several positions at once. For some mysterious reason I have a sense of respect for people like a great part of the Japanese who combine two religions at once. The lack of belief in Lutheran Church dogma is there and it defines me as a bad Lutheran but perhaps I just haven't found time and space for other positions. Does agnostic mean not being sure and not caring or trying to be sure but not being able to? You tell me.

Although I haven't been in touch with a divinity, there are still issues of ethics and human rights that I'd like to see as of religious rather than merely rational significance. A belief in good and evil is important to me, even if there are so many shades of grey in between.

stockholm slender said...

Well, I suppose I basically use the term agnostic as a shorthand. The literalist interpretations of religion lead one to this grey area, but I would say that there is a mysticism in the centre of our being in the world. From this perspective the differences between, say, formal agnosticism, my Pietist spiritual background and for example some Sufi traditions of Islam are negliceable. It is only the crude fundamentalist or positivist readings that would not allow for this mysticism. It is a sad fact the religion is much abused by the religious that always seem to cling to the most literal and primitive interpretations.