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End-of-Self Help > Letters

Web Letter

I recall waking up one night, 12, 13 years of age, in the full knowledge my parents were going to be dead before me, that is, before my own time had come. So I went downstairs, crying. They were watching Once Upon a Time in the West, and I coincidentally entered the living room during the scene where the young boy tries to stay on his feet, because his dad is standing on his neck, about to die as soon as the boy would fall.

Writing about this event, well over thirty years ago brings the echo of Enrico Morricone's music with that mouth harp, haunting me like a ghost: eerie yet beautiful music!

My parents aren't dead yet, but I know for fact I tried hard enough to die a little sooner then the both of them; joyriding, motorcycles, what not. I think our wish to live on and on has a firm connection with the love for our dearest ones, our children, our parents, intertwined products and makers.

Another thing I recall is I told them they weren't allowed to die sooner, crying and screaming, screaming and crying. Funny, no? Of course they couldn't promise me that, so I cried some more, Enrico's music going on and on on the background.

Some thirty years later I read about the concept of a "death-gene" switching on during early adolescence. What is the use of growing insanely old without loved ones around, really?

victor crebolder

Bois le Duc, The Netherlands

Oct 28 2009 - 7:49am

Web Letter

Provan: "the most popular nonfiction book of our time is not a romance novel..."

Maybe that's because a novel is by definition, fictional.

Casey Green

Ithaca, NY

Oct 14 2009 - 10:28am

Web Letter

I have to say that I am disappointed. In his entire essay, Alexander Provan never once took note of the most obvious benefit of every person's eventual death: it will enlarge the space in which other human beings may live. Even if it should turn out that I have no spiritual afterlife, I know that the cessation of my biological processes will give children on this Earth more space in which to grow. The prospect that I may die in the infirmity of extreme old age gives me the additional pleasure of reflecting that after I die, I will no longer impose chores and economic burdens upon younger people. This knowledge gives me more comfort and satisfaction than any navel-gazing philosopher's attempt to achieve immortality in either body or soul. And all that I need to do to embrace it is overcome my own selfishness.

There is something very vampire-like about the desire to live forever. At some point, I believe my desire to keep myself alive at the expense of the young should be considered excessive. I cannot tell others what to think, but for my part, I believe the limits that I choose to impose upon artificial means of life support for my own body are affirmations of my conviction that my death will one day be a natural and indeed a welcome event. If I selfishly refuse to die for too long, I will deny future generations the benefits of life that I have been privileged to enjoy. But if I manage, by means of a carefully crafted will, to die at the proper time, I will enable future generations to live as long, and as well, as I have. Justice demands neither more nor less.

Eric Paul Jacobsen

West Saint Paul, MN

Oct 10 2009 - 1:34pm

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