2 OverviewSome say life must be shown to be good, otherwise who would read, view or listen to material that is depression?Others say art should reveal the truth of human experience, some life-affirming, some of it life-denyingThe omnipresence of death, even at its most tragic can enhance the appreciation of life
3 Images of DeathOften shown as a hooded Grim Reaper with a scythe (we like to be scared, haunted houses)Death can be celebrated in life-affirming fashion to honor the memory of those who have departed. (Day of the Dead)
4 Military SacrificeGlorious-king Henry VTragic-Dulce Et Decorum est“For he to-day that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother…”“sweet and fitting it is to die for one’s country”
5 -love the element of danger (circus, rodeo) Death at a Distance-love the element of danger (circus, rodeo)society is fascinated by gruesome stories, zombies, Vampires, horrorConsidered life-affirming because they turn death into an unreality
6 CatastrophesSome stories tell of the near-destruction of the Earth and the salvation of goodOthers tell of meteors or comets that wipe out portions of the EarthThese are life-affirming because usually the deserving people do not dieBoth death at a distance and catastrophes assure us that death is not random, and can be overcome
7 Strategies for Dealing With Death AvoidancehumorDon’t ever talk about death because it’s “morbid”Use terms such as “pass on”, “in case something happens”People who avoid death are those who feel they have plenty of timeIs it better to confront death in a humorous way than to suppress not only the fear but the very mention of it?
8 More Strategies… Magnifying and beautifying death The medicalization of deathTo magnify death as a special event that happens only after a person has achieved high status is to create a mythology for ourselvesWe mask our own fears by focusing on the death of celebritiesMedical profession has made the conquest of death a priorityNew drugs and technology have helped, but when they don’t they add to the sense that death is intolerable
9 Death and LiteratureSome of the most potent insights into the meaning of death come from writersDeath in the Family tells of a little boy experiencing a loss for the first timeSpring and Fall- a poem that discusses that what the little girl is feeling is mourning for her own self somedayTerence, this is stupid stuff- poem denouncing his friends cheerful poetry, it is better to be realistic about sorrow
10 Death and Music Certain kinds of music are associated with death Hymns at funeralsNew Orleans jazz funeral
11 Death and an AfterlifeSome believe that death doesn’t exist, life continues beyond the grave.Christianity speaks of heaven and hell, but is ambiguous.Is it an actual place with geography?On the cross, Jesus proclaims he will be in paradise that same day, but what does paradise mean?Book of Revelations contains frightening imagery of the world’s end
12 In the Hindu faith there is moksha, the blissful state the soul attains when it is released from the cycle of reincarnation, but also a heavenly paradise enjoyed by the souls of who died but are 1 lifetime away from achieving perfection
13 In Judaism, the afterlife is the memory of a good person who lives on in charitable works, and the broad impact of a life well-lived. Their bible focuses on a better life here, not an afterlife.
14 FatalismThe belief that all events, including nature, time and place of one’s death have been predetermined2 ways of thinking about Fatalism:Depression because nothing can be done.A willingness to accept the inevitable no matter how unsettling.Instead of asking, “Why me?”ask “Why not me?”
15 Symbolic Deaths Unworth Symbolic suicide Most obvious form of symbolic deathFeeling of nothingness, unattractive, unpopularHang back from taking risks that could have positive resultsThe need to escape from a reality that does not give one an identitySymbolic martyrdom-sign up for tasks no one wants, “oh you poor thing”
16 Symbolic MurderVerbal knife thrust-saying something to cut them down (burn)Hostility and resentment find ways to come out
17 Models of Life-Affirmation If negative attitudes and internal imagery damped people’s lives, causing them to die many times before their actual death it is possible that the opposite may be true.Life-affirmation-recognizing life is worth living, death happens only once and in a sense, not at all.
18 The Phoenix Ancient symbol of life-affirmation Mythological bird that lives a long time, then burns to ashes on an alter only to rise from the ashes, young again
19 Phoenix Model Structure of many master works I’ve been through hellI’m going to pull myself out of thisLift yourself up by your own bootstrapsEpic Poem Faust-alchemist gives up soul to discover the secret. Learns that courage to meet challenges face-on whether one succeeds or not is greater than success itself, work is worth doing whether it is unfinishable.
20 There is Only NowTime is physical in the contemporary world of science.Time is a social construct, in terms of actual experience it is changeableWe can experience yesterday or not as we choose (memory) we can experience the future if we want (imagination) we cannot control is the present moment, but we often are so busy that we lose sense of itEastern thought-consciousness is infinite, awareness is always with us-no beginning or end
21 Reinventing Ourselves Memory can hold on to past hurts and cause us to want to reinvent ourselves (Suicide)Romans-to grieve, preserve honor, avoid pain, benefit the stateChristians-martyrs to prove faithArtists-poets and writers, too genius for their own good (lack of recognition, loss of inspiration, creativity stifled)
22 Guilt and ForgivenessLife-affirmation cannot happen until we do something about guiltMany hold on to guilt that isn’t justifiedSurvivor guilt-”why was I not the one?”Book suggests a guilt party and forgiveness ritual where you symbolically let go of past transgressions and allow yourself to heal
23 If there was a plane crash and only 5 of these people could get on the life raft, who would you choose?28 year old mother with her 5 month old baby boy45 year old priestElderly grandmother on the plane to celebrate her 50th wedding anniversaryElderly grandfather on the plane to celebrate his 50th wedding anniversary30 year old pilot24 year old flight attendant40 year old flight attendantBusinessman flying 1st class, father of 221 year old college male student attends Ohio University21 year old college female student attends Harvard34 year old female teacher, on the plane with husband and 2 children35 year old politician on the plane with wife and 2 children10 year old daughter of teacher and politician on plane with parents and brother3 year old son of teacher and politician on plane with parents and sister27 year old mechanic50 year old scientist58 year old eye doctor, father of 4, married over 20 years46 year old neurologist, not married, no kids