Death be not moldy

September 11, 2006 at 1:19 am (Uncategorized)

2004-halloween-18.jpgOh, woe is me. I was knee deep in some heady research tonight when it occurred to me I’ve prepared nothing for the morning blog. I am a slack ass cretin indeed. But when you hear of the engrossing topic I was studying, you will understand how I became so easily distracted: I was boning up on the kinds of vegetation one can expect to find upon opening a coffin after a period of interment. The short answer: Moss. Lots of moss.

Is it any wonder I get little company at night?

Because I’m still seeking answers, I have little to offer you this morning. But with all this arousing burial talk, a standard party question does come to mind. Specifically, when the great hand comes out of the sky and snatches away your life like the last shriveled pea on a dinner plate, what do you want done with your mortal remains?

Bitter arguments have raged over the merits of burial versus those of cremation. Those who choose the latter tend to be strident about it, almost militant. It’s as if they have secrets scrawled on their bones and they don’t want anyone to find them.

Me, I go back and forth. We all know of my relentless, if irrational fear of being buried alive. It’s the most horrific fate of which I can conceive and I want no part of it. Cremation seems to be the best guarantee of escaping that horror — you can’t be trapped in a box deep under ground if your ashen remains were scattered to the wind. That’s just physics, people.

At the same time, the idea of keeping my remains intact and giving them over to the worms and beetles is quite nice. Also, I wish to haunt a few people and it’s much easier to do that if you still have bones from which to dangle rags and decaying flesh.

I’m torn and I seek your thoughts. Lie in the dark for years and years of eternal silence and decomposition? Or sizzle like a strip of bacon in the big oven?



  1. Daughtio said,

    Me, I’m not quite sure myself. Like you, I have a fear of being buried alive. And recently on my soap a guy got buried alive, ahh!
    I do know that being cremated is, well I don’t wanna say “cooler” cuz that would just be wrong, but my Pepe got cremated and everyone in the family has some of his ashes. I have mine in a pretty pink jar (I bet he loves that) sitting on my entertainment center in the living room. At first, I thought I was gunna be creeped out by them, but nah. (all my friends are though, lol)

  2. Linda said,

    Mark, you bring up an excellent question about haunting: can one haunt effectively with only ashes for remains? I’m working on my psychic intimidation techniques. That way, when haunting time comes I can tiptoe in and out of people’s minds without requiring any of that grey mist and trailing garments shit.

    Ray Milland in “The Premature Burial” — enough said? Cremation for me.

  3. Mainetarr said,

    Cremation for me, too. The thought of rotting in a box is just too messy for me, I am a neat freak. I hear you can be speed ground or pelletized, too. I want my ashes put into a box in the form of a shapely woman, too, so I will finally get the body I always wanted. Ha!

  4. Mainetarr said,

    Nice title, by the way. Death Be Not Proud was one of my books in my book club last year. What a tear jerker. It’s hard to believe how old that book is.

    Off topic-Milo is 76 lbs and officially as tall as Bailey now. It’s been a while since I’ve talked about him, but I can not believe how fast he is growing. He is 4 months old now. Still a big lazy flop dog and as cute as ever. He is currently chasing his tail, barking.

  5. Linda said,

    Wow — a 76 lb puppy! He’s going to be one big dog!!

    Here’s another idea. Diamonds.

  6. jarheaddoc said,

    Medgar Evers was dug up for some damn reason and his body was reportedly in excellent condition, with little degradation.

    Aren’t we supposed to be recycled, though, in one way or another? The worms and moss will get you one way or another

  7. K2 said,

    Problem with cremation is all that wasted energy. Decomposition is a link to eternal life in that one’s energy is transferred to other living things — moss, fungi, beetles, maggots, whatever. Sure, I am aware of the Conservation of Energy, that energy cannot be created or destroyed. But why dump your energy into the atmosphere when you can feed a colony of millipedes for less than the price of a cup of coffee a day?

    Actually, I’m donating my body to science, if they’ll take me. (No bids on eBay just yet.) I got to cut up a few fead folks during my days in RIT’s pre-med program, so I really should let some future too-drunk -and-stoned-to-get-into-med-school students have at me with dull scalpels and rusty disection kits. (I love the smell of formaldehyde in the morning.)

    Rot on. . . .

  8. Mainetarr said,

    Yeah, I’m an organ donor and all, so I will go on a little longer and maybe help out a few folks, but I just don’t want to get planted in the ground.

  9. Richie said,

    Soylent Green is the answer.

  10. Linda said,

    Regarding the title: “Death Be Not Proud” is an amazing book, but it’s also the first line of a great sonnet by one of my favorite poets, John Donne. You probably all know it, but if you don’t, it starts

    Death be not proud, though some have called thee
    Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so,
    For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow,
    Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.

    Not as punchy as haiku and probably too boring for the blog, but definitely worth a read.

  11. Gil said,

    I knew if I waited long enough Soylent Green would make it’s way into this thread.

  12. K2 said,

    I tell ya, golf courses and cemetaries are the biggest waste of prime real estate. Just ask Wang: He just bought land next to the Great Wall of China–on the good side.

  13. Gentry said,

    Would that be on the other side of you, K2?

  14. LaFlamme said,

    What about the small family whose bodies were exhumed a few years ago, revealing deep scratches on the lids of their coffins?

  15. LaFlamme said,

    By the way, what would John Lennon be doing if he were alive today?

  16. LaFlamme said,

    I have the “Premature Burial” poster on my wall. With Ray Milland. Also a frightening depiction of premature interment: “The Serpent and the Rainbow.”

  17. LaFlamme said,

    Off the top of my head, I can count eleven stories I’ve written about the invasion of a sealed grave. I’m seeking therapy.

  18. K2 said,

    Oh, Gentry, you so clever.

    Obviously, some people just don’t know their Caddyshack lines.

    LaFlamme, if you’re ever attacked by an evil coffin, just throw some Luden’s or Hall’s at it. That should stop the coffin. (Hey that was a good joke — in 5th grade.)

  19. LaFlamme said,

    Fifth grade? I had to read that three times before I got it.

  20. LaFlamme said,

    While we’re talking about burial customs, does anyone know where I can get a 32″ Louisville Slugger? I lost a bet.

  21. D from work said,

    From the New York Times Science column. A reader asked what would happen to a person who died in space:

    . What would happen to a person in space, outside of a space ship with no space suit?
    .The person would very soon die, either from lack of oxygen or more likely from the extreme cold in the icy near-vacuum of outer space; it would be like being flash-frozen on earth. After that, the body would be freeze-dried, scientists theorize. The water in the body would freeze and eventually dissipate into space, leaving behind the other body constituents. Ice can evaporate without going through the liquid phase, a process called sublimation. It happens with refrigerator ice all the time.
    Because there is no oxygen, there would be no decomposition of the body, and there is little evidence that there would be degradation by microbes in space. It would be like storing meat in the deep freeze; it would eventually dry up, but how long it would take nobody really knows. The process would be similar but much slower if the person died in a spacesuit.

  22. Bobbie said,

    Cremation and then spread around a few places.

    Off topic, I complained to the SJ about having to log in to read the blogs and editorials. I actually received a reply from Eric today-do I dare open it and read it?

  23. K2 said,

    Wait, Mark, you didn’t drop out of elementary school, now did you?

    Man, it’s dead in here. Get it? Dead? Anyone? Bueller? . . .

  24. K2 said,

    A tisket, a tasket, I’ve got maggots in my casket.

    At least I’m trying here, people. . . .

  25. LaFlamme said,

    Outside the streets on fire in a real death waltz, between what’s flesh and what’s fantasy.

  26. LaFlamme said,

    By the way, a reader wrote in to chastize me for stealing BOY TRAPPED IN FREEZER EATS OWN FOOT today.

  27. Linda said,

    There we go, another choice thanks to D: freeze drying. And what about cryopreservation, or I guess if you add antifreeze it’s vitrification. Anyone for that?

  28. LaFlamme said,

    As for dying in the vacuum of space, what the article failed to consider was the effects of dark energy. Sooner or later, the body would enter a field of the mysterious stuff and reanimated. Which would be a real pisser, because the formerly deceased would spend a virtual eternity floating around the ether screaming: “For God’s sake, somebody kill me again!”

  29. jarheaddoc said,

    But wouldn’t that be a vicious cycle, Mark? You know, die, find that dark matter crap, get reanimated, die again, and on and on? It would be like that mythical dude who was tied to a rock and had his liver eaten every day. Was that Prometheus?

  30. Linda said,

    He stole fire. Deserved what he got.

  31. LaFlamme said,

    Sisyphus is the dude that had to keep pushing the big rock up the hill over and over. I think he went on to found a masonry company or something.

  32. Bobbie said,

    We have a piece of furniture in the house that we refer to as a “coffin”. It’s our daughter’s cedar chest that she made in woodworking class in high school. She can actually fit inside it and it takes 2 guys to lift it because it’s so heavy. I get some funny looks when I mention that we have our daughter’s coffin in the livingroom and we use it to store blankets for now.

  33. Gentry said,

    I’ve always been told that in the vacuum of space, the internal body pressure would cause us all to explode like a popcorn kernel, except for the old maids.

  34. Linda said,

    “Secrets scrawled on their bones”? I like that, Mark.

  35. LaFlamme said,

    Ha! Do you? Good. I was hallucinating when I wrote that line, I think. I like eating things from the yard.

  36. LaFlamme said,

    I don’t think the vacuum of space is truly a vacuum. If it were, it would be a place of absolute zero in defiance of quantum theory, which suggests there is no such thing as truly empty space. The pressure in such space would probably kill a person but not before asphyxia did the job.
    Man. Is it me? Or is quantum physics as sexually exciting as death talk?

  37. Linda said,

    And yet … algebra does nothing for you at all. Go figure.

  38. LaFlamme said,

    True, true. I’m an enigma.

  39. Linda said,

    Wrapped up in a riddle.

  40. jarheaddoc said,

    wrapped in a conundrum

  41. Linda said,

    Loosely wrapped, that is

  42. jarheaddoc said,

    If at all. The paper and the tie are in separate rooms in a very large store

  43. Linda said,

    I’m just glad none of this shit keeps me awake at night!

  44. The Friendly Buddhist said,

    Ashes to ashes
    To Earth we all will return
    A cycle complete

    “Even death is not to be feared by one who has lived wisely.”

  45. reaper said,

    Some years before, during his interview with an American Magazine, he said: “Christianity will end, it will disappear. I do not have to argue about
    that. I am certain. Jesus was ok, but his subjects were too simple, Today
    we are more famous than Him” (1966). Lennon, after saying that the Beatles were more famous than Jesus Christ, was shot six times.

    TANCREDO NEVES (President of Brazil):
    During the Presidential campaign, he said if he got 500,000 votes from his
    party, not even God would remove him from Presidency. Sure he got the votes, but he got sick a day before being made President, then he died.

    CAZUZA (Bi-sexual Brazilian composer, singer and poet):
    During a show in Canecão ( Rio de Janeiro ), whilst smoking his cigarette,
    he puffed out some smoke into the air and said: “God, that’s for you.” He
    died at the age of 32 of AIDS in a horrible manner.

    After the construction of Titanic, a reporter asked him how safe the Titanic
    would be. With an ironic tone he said: “Not even God can sink it” The
    result: I think you all know what happened to the Titanic.

    She was visited by Billy Graham during a presentation of a show. He said the Spirit of God had sent him to preach to her. After hearing what the Preacher had to say, she said: “I don’t need your Jesus”.
    A week later, she was found dead in her apartment.

    The ex-vocalist of the AC/DC. On one of his 1979 songs he sang: “Don’t stop me, I’m going down all the way, down the highway to hell”. On the 19th of February 1980, Bon Scott was found dead, he had been choked by his own vomit.

    In Campinas, Brazil a group of friends, drunk, went to pick up a friend. The
    mother accompanied her to the car and was so worried about the drunkenness of her friends and she said to the daughter while holding her hand, who was already seated in the car:

    Hours later, news came by that they had been involved in a fatal accident,
    everyone had died, the car could not be recognized what type of car it had
    been, but surprisingly, the boot was intact. The police said there was no
    way the boot could have remained intact.
    To their surprise, inside the boot was a crate of eggs, none were

  46. Gentry said,

    Hmmph, that’s all of you out!

  47. sower said,

    what a coincidence someone said something, and then they died……
    everybody is going to die sometime. I suppose anyone can take anyone else’s words & try to apply them to that person’s death as some kind of warning, capitalizing on the anxiety of the awareness of the inevitability of death, to persuade others to their religion.
    Pass the collection plates

  48. thinking about death said,

    According to the existentialist perspective:
    “……anxiety springs from confrontation with death, groundlessness (freedom), isolation, and meaninglessness. …. Consider the defense mechanisms for dealing with the anxiety emerging from awareness of death. Yalom describes 2 major specific defenses: an irrational belief in personal “specialness” and an irrational belief in the existence of an ultimate rescuer”……..they are universally held irrational beliefs. …
    Specialness….deep, powerful beliefs in personal inviolability, invulnerability,and immortality. Although at a rational level, we recognize the foolishness of these beliefs, nonetheless, at a deeply unconscious level we believe that the ordinary laws of biology do not apply to us. …..
    The other major mechanism of defense that serves to block death awareness is our belief in a personal omnipotent servant who eternally guards and protects our welfare, who may let us get to the edge of the abyss but who will always bring us back…….this particular defense mechanism results in a character structure displaying passivity, dependency, and obsequiousness. ……a life ideology that precedes and prepares the ground dor clinical depression……”

  49. LaFlamme said,

    You’ve given me much to think about. Much to think about indeed. I hate when that happens.

  50. Allan Lambert said,

    Google is the best search engine

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