Thursday, May 3, 2012

"Symbols and Signs" of "The Dead"

There are thousands of everyday things that will always be considered ordinary that perhaps shouldn't be. For instance, we all woke up this morning, which is probably the most ordinary part of a person's day. How many of us stopped and thought about that moment when it happened? My guess is none of us, but really, shouldn't we all have? After all, if this simple, ordinary even hadn't occurred, then we would have found ourselves in the most ordinary/unordinary moment of all: death.

We have discussed death multiple times throughout the semester, and have come to the agreement that death is both the most ordinary part of life (what is life without death?), and also the most extraordinary part of life. We see death all around us: leaves falling off of the trees in fall, worms trampled on the pavement after a rainstorm, a story on the news of a woman being shot. We take all of these moments in stride, paying little attention to any of them, but everything suddenly changes when the death being discussed is attached to someone we know. When this happens, everything seems to change. We try to comfort our friend when we hear their grandmother has passed away, or we wonder how life will ever be the same now that grandpa is gone.

This is the theme that I have found myself thinking about over the passed few days, and there are two texts that jump to my mind while doing so: "Symbols and Signs," and (naturally) "The Dead." Both discuss death in interesting ways that force one to think, such as in "The Dead" when Gabriel thinks about the melting of the living and the dead into one world: "Other forms were near. His soul had approached that region where dwell the vast hosts of the dead. He was conscious of, but could not apprehend, their wayward and flickering existence. His own identity was fading out into a grey impalpable world: the solid world itself which these dead had one time reared and lived in was dissolving and dwindling" (pgs. 224 - 225). "Symbols and Signs" makes one think more of how sometimes death is a release, and how many people would prefer it to living, such as when the author talks about the boy, saying, "The last time the boy had tried to do it, his method had been, in the doctor’s words, a masterpiece of inventiveness; he would have succeeded had not an envious fellow-patient thought he was learning to fly and stopped him just in time. What he had really wanted to do was to tear a hole in his world and escape," (part one). I think it would be very interesting to compare the two authors' ideas of death, and see just how ordinary or extraordinary it truly is. 

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