Death denial

There are times when I can’t seem to live without external noise; an easy explanation is that it helps me evade any noise that might be happening internally. These days, the internal noise is mostly centered around my diminishing role as a consumer, specifically in terms of what/how I eat. Being in NYC, with its bounty of dining possibilities, only makes the noise louder. To appease my inner spoiled brat, the one who grew accustomed to a life of eating anything without consequence, I’ll look at Yelp reviews and pictures, hoping that the sight of food is sufficient to keep his wrath at bay. It isn’t. In fact, if that’s the information I keep feeding my brain, what do I really expect to end up thinking about the most?

Anyway, external noise. This craving leads to a lot of streaming videos from various sources, most of which I never actually get through because I don’t really want to watch them. They’re born of idleness, a state which has grown substantially for me in my months of unemployment. A recent binge led me to Wisecrack’s Philosophy of Darth Vader, which centered on the concept of death denial, the idea that everything we do is motivated by us wanting to deny the reality of death. It’s a convincing enough take on Vader’s inner motor; unable to cope with his mother’s death and later Padme’s, he chooses the Sith route of conquering death and desperately avoiding even the thought of his own mortal coil abandonment. Violence can be viewed as a manifestation of urgent death denial; instead of surrendering to death’s fundamental relationship with life, you can use violence to pretend that you have control over death. When Vader kills other people, it shows just how much he struggles to acknowledge the truth about death; murder gives him the false belief that he can control death. The Jedi, representing a more Buddhist philosophy, accept death and live in harmony with its inevitability.

Which is all good and dandy. So what am I doing here writing about it? Well, when you take a break halfway through a post and try to pick up the momentum without the context of your initial inspiration, it’s hard to say. I think I was planning to self-implicate, i.e. reveal my own forms of death denial.

Looking at Yelp menus is a great way to pass the time, wherein “pass the time” means “pretend I’ll never die.” Promising myself future food is acting like I actually have a say in whether I’ll live long enough to eat said food. What arrogance! Planning a trip to Ecuador in January? Same deal. I do all of these things with a delusion of invincibility. Immortality. Like I get that I’ll die, but come on, not before I experience everything I’ve currently planned, right? Surely life will grant me the opportunity to pursue all my scattered ambitions, right? And if I stay on the move, death can’t catch me, right?

Wrong. Duh. But I won’t stop promising myself a future. Is it death denial? Okay. So be it. Listen, the Existentialists who say you have to confront death – like truly confront death (by inventing your own language for it, Heidegger?) – in order to live more fully, presently, authentically…just…whatever, man. My greater concern is life denial. I imagine that they’re effectively the same thing. By denying death, you’re always living a lie, which must mean you’re denying life too. So can I just say that I embrace death and life and be on with it? On with what?


Boy, those Star Wars prequels really are terrible.



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