Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Art Of Dying

[EDIT] Preface: I had hoped that the story would make sense to the keen observant without the aid of this preface. But I have been admonished for being too convoluted. So, if you wish to take a challenge, you may skip this preface and head straight on to the date.
A string of thoughts led to something and I happened to meet this story on the way. Allow me, if you so please, to lead you along a couple of lines of summary.
Which is the greatest assumption under which any human lives? The answer lies within the question. "Lives". Death is when any human ceases to "live" and every human knows the sheer power of its inevitability. As with most hypothetical thought experiments that begin with the two inglorious words, "What if..?": what if this assumption weren't as obvious? Oh yes, this has been thought over and exploited, maybe even stripped bare naked in popular media as many times as any random number-digited random number that comes up in your head right now. But here, a slightly different outlook is taken. The question that I am now going to let linger in your mind as you read through this is: "What if human death was random; without any modern-day reasoning like say, accidents, disease, or even old age?". I hope and pray that the lingering is that of perfume in the air and not a housefly on a Sunday afternoon. :)

Dated 1 Mir 21 1729 P.M.

"I can’t even begin to imagine a biological form that is new to the nuances of death. But I blame that primarily on the very terrifyingly close-to-the-origin-that-was limits of my imagination. Philosophers, the ever-so-learned ones, dwell over the appropriate ways to die. It is, in some morbid sense, the latest fad. At times I wonder, am I, in fact, dumb enough to not understand the significance. It is written in the texts, that once, life was important to the human race. People feared death, but after a period of time and growing frustration towards this invaluable phenomenon, people started embracing death; forever finding new ways of dying, realising the numerous ways in which death could be achieved. A very fatal exercise, it would have seemed at the time. But something happened. I do not understand what; no one does; some say it is a Government experiment, but that wouldn't make much sense. They stood to lose the most. People had stopped dying.

No, immortality isn't exactly what we are looking at here. People did die. But not as per their free will. It is as random as random can get and a little more. Suicides, murders, executions, honor longer. Yeah, I checked their original meanings up on wikipedia's archives, the red colored entries. These terms seemed to have an entirely different meaning then. Death could be caused, they say, by physically or mentally destructing the human form. I still do not get it. How could another human being possibly be instrumental in determining another human life's length? Being entirely random is the only thing that is natural and probably sticks to logic. Not that I know much about logic, but that is what a significantly smarter friend argues.

I am a pugilist by profession. Sometimes, I wish I were in a gentler sport like, say, Xtreme supercross or speed skiing. Bah! "extreme", they say. Just a couple of fractures on a bad day and an antiquated, "Please do not try this at home" tag, which, as the internet joke goes, is probably to prevent real men from wasting their time. In boxing, on the other hand, "now" (as long as I or my granddad have known) that there is no fear of fatalities, fractures are the only points in the body that are targeted. But, I guess I was beaten out for it. Literally.

Yeah, my parents were a part of the (in)famous "little" trial group. They were of the opinion that, achieving death at a younger age could be more, ahem, "predictable". Had they been correct, well, for whatever I am worth, and that is a lot, I wouldn't have been writing this (nor would I have been that worthy). Rolled down the stairs at 2, dropped from the 30th floor at 3, speed skiing at 5. I was for sure one resilient bastard. I might have been an Andrew Wiles, or a Stephen Hawking, or better still, a Hugh Hefner, but the brain, it seems, doesn't take too well to jarring physical shocks and aftershocks.

Presumably, I might have slyly abandoned the point discussing what would have been, had death been "predictable". I assure you, I am incapable of such cunning. I think, after much discussion with superior-minded peers, had probabilities for death, or more specifically, death as a function of age been determined, the society might have reverted back to the ancient times. In fact, I thought writing down my ruminations on death would help me understand their discussion better. More honestly, this is to record and have their deliberations duly recognised. I hope they understand death better, now that they have achieved it so easily. Heroes indeed.

They believed, though they were too young to do that, that the human indifference to the phenomenon of death caused it to be something that one could be indifferent to. People had, at sometime in the past, collectively become so tired of the futility in the entire drill, that they ceased to care much for it. What we call simply living life now, became enjoying every day to the fullest for them. It was exhilarating, records claim. The world became a happier place to live in. I might have even considered shifting my residence to such a world, but it has remained the same ever since, and I really do not "enjoy" the current one. Wars meant slaughter then, not the cowardly strategic process it is now. My friends held that death, if put into an infinite recursion, would probably have to terminate either itself, or the running process. In simpler terms, our mind is responsible for our lives and what we make of it. Heavy, isn't it? I usually felt nauseous after such discussions. As an afterthought, I think there might be something to"

This is one of the earliest evidences, a seminal paper, so to say, approximately proving that human termination is caused by, "ring-a-ring-a-roses, pocket full of.." Incidentally, this innocent nursery rhyme has its dark origins in the black plague, which wiped out, “A bright blue sky and a flying firefly, all for you...". Thinking about death causes it. "Raffiniert ist der Herr Gott, aber boshaft ist er nicht!". Damn, that didn't help. "Curiously enough, the only thing that went through the mind of the bowl of petunias as it fell was, "Oh no, not again". Many people have speculated that if we knew exactly why the bowl of petunias had thought about we knowing a lot more about the nature of the Universe than we do now.". Surprising that no one noticed it earlier. Maybe because not many exactly thought about it and those who did, were clearly beyond their expiry date, which is probably why they thought as much about it. "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn". What is however not known, nor wanting to be known, is the threshold amount of thought that topples over the institution of life. Maybe now, I have thought a bit too much.

Final Footnote : The dateline P.M. might have needed some clarification. The person who came up with P.M. ie: Post Mortem, thought it was a nice idea, and an interesting idea it indeed was. But not for him, for he died soon after, having thought too much over it. Official statements say the proposed dateline was formalised to honor his contribution. But the dark truth, it seems, is that no one really wanted to think much about it. :)

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