This is the latest in a series of essays titled “Man has premonition of own death”
I’m hearing – in my head – the Beatles, and John Lennon’s singing “Tomorrow Never Knows” from “Revolver,” with Ringo’s underrated and relentless drumming on that song, and Lennon singing “It is not dying…It is not dying….Lay down all thoughts….Surrender to the void.” Everywhere the void. I sent the section called Beautiful Corpse to several writer friends and asked what they thought. With one, sadly, it resonated all too well. “You got me at a sort bad time with this,’ my friend replied, explaining that an ex-spouse was “not doing too well. I mean, not too well at all, although I’m still superstitious enough to think that if I say it aloud it will be true, so I will try to do my part and not say it.” “I have been crying all day, so you can guess. It seems we’re at the age when if we’re not dying ourselves, everyone we know is. And that really sucks, and yes you captured it here.” “And you’re right: when you’re young you can talk about it with a glibness that…well, let’s just say, I have never been freaked out by Halloween and this year, after the death of my father this summer, I am horribly freaked out when I see those plastic bloody hands reaching out of the plastic graves on people’s lawns.” “And when I read my own glib writing…I think, how could I have been so stupid? So, write on. You’re on to something.” So right now I’m thinking about my writer friend and I’m picturing a thousand lawns and two thousand bloody hands and three thousand sad songs and four thousand tombstones and five thousand graves and six thousand funeral trains and for some reason I see people dancing and swaying and playing horns on their way to a cemetery in New Orleans and I’ve a vision of a dead body laid on its back on a smooth flat rock and the rock is slightly atilt and it’s facing a churning ocean and birds circle overhead and there is no beach – it’s a rocky shore – and the wind picks up and the birds circle higher and soar and glide, and the surf gets rougher and the crash of the waves gets louder, and waves hit rocks and the foam sprays the flat rock, which gets wet and slippery, and then there’s a huge wave and that wave envelops the rock, and then the dead body is gone and the flat rock’s empty, and I hear John Lennon singing “Lay down all thoughts…Relax and float downstream….It is not dying…” We can hope. We can hope that there’s something more to the void than just a void.