The ‘Irrelevance’ Of The Human World

I remember, quite clearly, the day my mother showed me her cancer. There it was, a curious, nondescript region within the scan, a zone of irregularity to be sure, visibly distinct from the cells surrounding it, its shape and shading setting it apart. And yet, it looked of a piece too with its ‘environment’; inContinue reading “The ‘Irrelevance’ Of The Human World”

The Hidden Pain Of Others

A few years ago, as I walked down the street that I live on in Brooklyn’s Ditmas Park, toward my home and my waiting family, past a row of restaurants and coffee shops with their happy and contented consumers, I spied a pair of friends and neighbors of ours. They were sitting outside a localContinue reading “The Hidden Pain Of Others”

Vale Rohin Kushwaha (1999-2019)

The diseases which afflict the young are particularly fearsome; they take the soaring bird in flight, bringing home the indifference of this world to our fates and fortunes vividly. Rohin Kushwaha, who passed away last week on Friday, January 11th, was not yet twenty years old; he had but completed a year of studies beyondContinue reading “Vale Rohin Kushwaha (1999-2019)”

Fear Of Death Is Fear Of Immortality

We philosophize because we anticipate death, fearfully. We seek out religious consolation because we anticipate death, fearfully. We seek in philosophical rumination and religious observance and faith some deliverance from our mortality, some way to ‘stay alive,’ to not be annihilated. One kind of introspection these forms of thought encourage is to look a littleContinue reading “Fear Of Death Is Fear Of Immortality”

Late Work And Shying Away From Decay And Death

In ‘Late Francis Bacon: Spirit and Substance‘ Colm Tóibín writes: It would be easy to imagine…that Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice was written toward the end of his life. In fact, it was written in 1911, when Mann was thirty-six. It is a young man’s book; its images of desire, decay, and death could not be soContinue reading “Late Work And Shying Away From Decay And Death”

The Mixed Pleasures Of Attending Our Own Memorial Service

Wanting to attend our own funerals, our own memorial services, is a fantasy with a long and distinguished pedigree. (As is the associated fantasy of wanting to read our own obituaries.) With good reason. If things have worked out well, many of our friends and family members will be there, hopefully all well-dressed. Importantly, weContinue reading “The Mixed Pleasures Of Attending Our Own Memorial Service”

Broadchurch’s Grieving Mother And Our Reactions To ‘Victims’

Viewers of the BBC’s Broadchurch are subjected to a trial of sorts: we have to watch, in some excruciating detail, the reactions of parents, and in particular, a mother, to the violent death of a beloved child–at the hands of a malevolent, unknown actor. Paying close attention to our reactions to what we see andContinue reading “Broadchurch’s Grieving Mother And Our Reactions To ‘Victims’”

Gabriel Rockhill On Never Dying

Over at the New York Times’ The Stone, in ‘Why We Never Die‘ Gabriel Rockhill writes: Our existence has numerous dimensions, and they each live according to different times. The biological stratum…is in certain ways a long process of demise — we are all dying all the time, just at different rhythms. Far from being anContinue reading “Gabriel Rockhill On Never Dying”

Francine Prose On The Consolations Of Post-Apocalyptic Literature

In reviewing Margaret Atwood‘s Stone Mattress: Nine Tales Francine Prose makes a pair of perceptive remarks in her conclusion. First, [T]book offers none of the peculiar comforts and reassurances of such post-apocalyptic novels as Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy. It denies us the glorious fantasy of flaming out en masse instead of, so much less dramatically, in aContinue reading “Francine Prose On The Consolations Of Post-Apocalyptic Literature”

Uncomfortable Conversations: Children And The Bad News

On Friday morning, I finally faced the kind of problem I had heard many other parents make note of: how do you talk about the horrifying in the presence of children? On Thursday night, I had gone to sleep after reading the news reports on the murders in Nice, and on waking up, wanted toContinue reading “Uncomfortable Conversations: Children And The Bad News”