November 28, 2011

An Idiot's Tale

William Shakespeare. Someone I am particularly not enjoying right now in high school English. Regardless, the man had a way with words. I have thought a lot about what to write and I came up with a concept several weeks ago, I have just had trouble putting it down. I think in Macbeth Shakespeare captures how I feel on the issue of death pretty well.

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
 And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
 Signifying nothing
Macbeth- Act V, Scene V, Lines 17-28

What is death? What does it mean? Is it the opposite of life? Is it the absence of life? Growing up I always thought it was just a biological function, but does that even make sense? How can biology explain the complex phenomenon of life and death? I feel like this post will be a lot of questions. I will be short and just my thoughts.

In the attempt to understand death, or try and grasp it I have asked myself several questions over and over. They usually mirror something along these lines: What do I experience in death? Do any memories go with me? Does this very moment of thought matter, will it be remembered or have significance once I have passed?

After I toy with those questions another one usually hits me. Why do I want to know? Why do all of my questions assume death in a negative sense, defined only as the inverse of life. It brings me to an interesting point, does life give value to itself, or does death give life value and also does life give death value.  Why have I for so long believed that death is an experience to be avoided?

I never seem to have an answer to these questions. I have read plenty of authors and have a plethora of literature I could quote to try and understand these questions, but what purpose does that serve. None of these people have experienced death. Now I like living, right now things are going great and I don’t plan to hit up the death thing for a LONG time, but I am still curious, what is it?

I know this post is brief and rambly but I find it hard to capture my thoughts in writing. Please feel free to share your opinions. I know writing may be hard so feel free to discuss this with me in person, I know many of our readers personally and I hope this leads for some interesting dialogue.

I will write about different scholars on death during the winter break. Until then have fun reading my rambles. 


  1. This is really interesting. I guess the uncertainty of death [i.e. we don't know what awaits us when our heart stops beating] makes it so that we're scared. I like to think that death is just non-existence, so when we die we don't know we're dead because there's no brain or no consciousness to tell us otherwise.

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