ToTW: Saying Goodbye, Come Back Whenever -- or -- I remember dead people

This is a mishmash of thoughts on interacting with, respecting, and remembering the dead. Partially inspired by a death in my life, partly by my strong reaction to the phrase "rest in power," and partly by halloween, the best of all recognized holidays.

The death in my life has me pondering ways that people are remembered, which will never be correct (or sufficiently whole). Memory is biased at the best of times, and death is the ultimate opportunity to hold on to what already best fits our understanding about someone. Death means that they will never again surprise us, or exceed our understanding of them. Or, that's the worst case scenario. Talking to other people about someone who is dead can still surprise us, i guess.

Rest in power pisses me off because it seems to be insisting that people must remain in these bullshit struggles even after they're dead. To me the "power" contradicts and overwhelms the "rest" in the phrase.

Finally, but related to the above, do you want to be around after death? Do you want people to hold seances and call on you? Do you want to chat with your people after they've shuffled off, walked on? What is important about death, in your relationships with specific people? How do people become *more* present once they can never be around again?

What is an appropriate (to you) relationship to the dead?

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This is a very personal topic and like many topics (but not others) becomes interesting once you delve into the particulars and specifics. I will begin with some general thoughts and might comment more later.

"Finally, but related to the above, do you want to be around after death?"

In many ways, I will be, whether I like it or not. It's the big "I guess we'll find out" how, when we do. I find the idea of "eternal rest" comforting and appealing. But what if that's just another misconception? Then all that "I'll sleep when I'm dead" gets turned on its head and it would then be "I have to sleep while I can, because I'll get no rest once I'm dead!"

"Do you want people to hold seances and call on you?"

I personally would not dare to call on anyone after they've departed. If there is such a thing as a rest, I'd not like to disturb them. But if seances were truly a real possibility and not just a fiction we delude ourselves with, I could not honestly close myself off to the possibility. I would not have a choice either way, or would I? Life finds a way, I'd be alive in another form, if other forms of life reach out to me, I will respond accordingly to my mood, level of affinity.

"Do you want to chat with your people after they've shuffled off, walked on?"

Like I said, not by way of a seance, but nowadays with books, audio, video, one could simulate or continue a sort of conversation after they're gone. They can only respond with things they've already said before, dug out by other people potentially, twisted in this or that way to support their own angle. It also gives those living to "have the last word" at least for a short while while they're alive or while events still hold out on proving the dead person right or wrong. Some writer once described writing as a cruel form of revenge after you're dead, your words haunting others or something. Was it Zerzan? It must have been said by millions others at least.

"What is important about death, in your relationships with specific people?"

This is a hard question. In all honesty, I take people for granted until they're gone, and then there's just sadness ameliorated by fading pleasant memories and lingering regrets.

"How do people become *more* present once they can never be around again?"

This is not always the case, but it sometimes is. Some people are turned into icons and mere image and are mass reproduced endlessly, you will find them in statues, movies, tshirts, books, and even your soup. Then there is the case of hauntings and poltergeists.

"What is an appropriate (to you) relationship to the dead?"

Each person is unique, no standard relationship to all dead across the board. I can envision still taking to some, some I just forget and never think of again. They can still be looked up to, looked down on, or learned from the stories of their lives.

i also am not a fan of "rest in power", there seem to be people who want to continue rehashed battles and others who do not, im certainly in the latter group, even though i dont believe politics are just fine the way they are...youd have to be crazy to think that at this point.

i mean, if people care that i died then thats fine too, but people seem to be better off when they can learn to mourn and just move on, re-adjust

theres no appropriate or inappropriate relationship to the dead, it does bother me when people use the dead as ideals for other living people to live up to, "what would ___________ think about that?", the way the christians treat christ is a shining example of what im talking about

"Death means that they will never again surprise us, or exceed our understanding of them. Or, that's the worst case scenario. Talking to other people about someone who is dead can still surprise us, i guess."

Talking to people
about someone who is dead
can still surprise us
if they have seen them around.

Would an encounter
exceed your understanding
if Death surprised you?

"Rest in power pisses me off because it seems to be insisting that people must remain in these bullshit struggles even after they're dead. To me the "power" contradicts and overwhelms the "rest" in the phrase."

Dead power struggles
will rot in putrefaction
piss on resting place.

People will remain
even after they are dead
in our memory.

"Finally, but related to the above, do you want to be around after death?"

If death forbids me
of an eternal slumber
I will have revenge.

I will haunt the world
a plague to all the living
roam the night howling.

It's like they just replace a word here and there and pretend not to be christians

I like "rest in peace" in the sense of not talking trash about the dead.

I stumbled upon this doing a search for forums about death, haha, I'm lying in a ward now for the terminally ill, yeah, you guessed it, the big C, not this covid19 upstart which will burnout in a few months, mine is the ancient entropy dependent mutant human cell gone revolutionary in a worn out old body. Ohhh its gonna be like the big sleep, they have me on opiods, dont understand why the stuff aint legal, takes away a sea of troubles and pain like Hamlet said, beautiful sleep, eternal peace away from the crazy stress and agony of tyrannical displeasure and angst.
A hand to hold would be nice, I have no family but my young nurses, the unsung heroes of the dead, are always by my side, smiling ragiantly, like angels, beautiful angels,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,goodbye strange world,,,,,,,,,and no tears,,,,,,,be happy,,,,,,,

Still alive enough to worry about a typo, ,,,,,,,smiling radiantly,,,...

Wow dude, I feel for you, you sound like you must be old because old folk don't fear death like younger people do, or they don't show it. I always wanted to ask people with terminal illness if they would prefer euthanasia or pulling the plug on life support, but I suppose it depends on opioid supply because without pain everything is okay, you want to live forever if life is easy, or suicide if life is one continuous agany. You don't have to answer, if you are still there, on the internet, ciao.

Its okay youngun, Im guessin you are young from your questions. I just got my 3 hr opiod dose, so things are rosy, I dont fear nothin with this stuff, I feel like I could live a thousand years with the big C, but (bama and the liberals made it very hard on us old folks gettin painkillers. Why should we old sick ones suffer cos of dopers giving a drug a bad name. Since Trump has been in, things are easier with opiods and with dying, he makes dyin easy, and I would vote for him just for that one itty bitty reason, pain and getting rid of it.
Ask as many questions, that goes for anyone out in anarchist land, fire away, happy to have someone to talk to while Im floatin around in this here ward

Made another typo, (bama should be Obama, big C going to my brain . So you know whos posting on this strange layered system for comments, I've named myself Terminal Big C. Sounds like one of those rapper singer names lol, not into it myself, was more a heavy metal type myself

Hey cancer dude, did you know you can have that played at your funeral, cremation, w/e body disposal choice? Have you made out a will, even if you are penniless some last wishes can be communicated on your demise? All the best for your ending it all :)

Another poster here. Its good that you are philosophical about death. Do you think that besides the pain medication which deals with physical pain, do you think not having any family or loved ones makes death easier, like there isn't the back and forth feedback happening, like memories and experiences and the sharing of experiences which form a group bond, and a death of a group member is like a dismemberment of a part of yourself, but being on your own, death is just a superficial physical thing? I'm not trying to devalue your life, just referring to types of pain not the extent of pain.

We have lived in a culture of avoiding death for a long time. What does it mean that one person has gone to another world? It is seen as a comfort to others. Death turns into a monument of pain, telling the weak of mankind. It derived two forms of mutual reference: Utopia and the Egyptian Pharaoh's desire for eternity.

But with the development of global capitalism and urbanization, the world has developed two different attitudes towards death. A Utopia of the rich and the mediocre and busy residents of the city. Death changes from being avoided to losing its meaning. The boundary between life and death becomes blurred. Especially in East Asia, it is not surprising that some people feel that they have never lived. The other comes from marginal and local wars. Death also loses its meaning. It becomes a common thing, but people try their best to survive.

So it's stupid to talk about death like this, from the perspective of the poor. But on the other hand, it is not wise to ignore death, because it also ignores the relationship between death and struggle.

Death should be thought of in any case. It's a game of fire.

Because death is something to be realized. It is also joy.

Anger or joy is a celebration.

So, I've turned my toes up and melted into a puddle after getting a bucket of water thrown on me. What is left? Black and white stockings, the smell of roses, definitely not a fart, a soup for worms, an ever-changing caricature, and perhaps some historical remnants to be hacked to crap on a whim.

Hence my once peers hold seance and thusly summon "Deeeeee, Liminal Deeeeee, Are you there Liminal D?" I am there, like I am there now, wearing those black and white stockings and being played with by your exquisite neurons. I don't know how you got me into those leather hotpants... and glittery red nipple clamps? Really? I always knew this seance was just an excuse for a party.

Yeah, so err, perhaps some simulacrum and lingering memory is needed to invoke a conceit, facilitating our necromancer to cast-off some bothersome emotional and social constraints. There's spooky ol' me, acting the romantic prompt, maybe even the impetus toward something more sacred or elevating. Yet, however good I look in hotpants, upon death I'll only be a mere toy of yours. For a while, at least, I see little power or rest for me. Once direct sensuality becomes absent, who the fuck is anyone except the most complete plaything for the imagination.

To call forth this topic's transcendences, in case I really do turn up at the seance, I will most definitely full-on materialise in front of you, dancing pink tatters and percussive green bones, chattering "Okay, let's stop fucking about and go rattle the shit out of the chains of the living." I'll then proceed to accompany you, and not leave until all the fun was over. Although, knowing what I get like without sleep, you fuckers will likely soon wizard that clairvoyant into an exorcist.

"I forgive you... love and harmony... err... be excellent to each other... I told you it's roses..."

So, so, so faintly into the gloam, if you remember anything, remember this: Whether I want to be around after death, or not, is irrelevant. When I'm dead there's going to be a universal scramble for the energy I once held onto in life. Yet, be sure I'll not be wrestling that energy back. You can talk to me when I'm dead, know however it will be your phantasm and fantasy, and not mine. And when dry grief options you the easy self-sabotage or convenient transposed judgement, consider instead to make me good magic.

"make me good magic"
who doesn't want that?


they meant they’d like a shirt that says “make me good magic”, meaning they liked your phrase

the incessant drive to avoid death at all costs is absurd, unhealthy and pointless.

i suggest hosting a "death cafe".

"Its not about the length of life but the depth of life spent, living a good life means dying a good death, I am not afraid of death I just don't want to be there when it happens " ;)

Death exists only from our own pov as living bodies. It sure is a pain to be deprived of our close relatives for the rest of our lives, and the thought we might never see them again, that all they did was irrelevant, it's an unbearable thought. But you rise up from the brutal harshness of such realization, with the acceptance that death doesn't really exist, that it's just part of a process, and that we'll go back to the source when our bodies reach the end of their cycles.

While mammals are very different to trees/plants, there is behind their lives the same vitalist postulate; that since bioelectric energy flows through trees and spreads around, once the tree can no longer sustain the flow (that I equate to the "Qi") it only goes back to its source... likely carrying the genetic memory along with it.

The soil acts as electric capacitor for the plants to grow (hence why plants require a different level of pH accordingly with their species), just like our bodies in general hold capacitive, resistive and distributive dipole properties, within the cells and neurons themselves, until they start deterioration due to not being able to sustain the constant bursts of energy from the mitochondria.

As "walking plants", mammals encapsulate the electric energy from the UV rays as well as the Earth's own EM field. It is what animates us, gives us the "breath of life". But quantum theory will also tell you that electricity is just one aspect of the elephant; as usual we cannot perceive the whole elephant with our limited senses and science. It is one state of energy, that might connect to other states in ways we're still discovering.

Even electricity, in itself, ain't that easy to define. We talk of "power" but isn't it really just a flow, part of a bigger wave of infinite proportions? That would logically be the Qi, the living force that not only unites all the beings, but from which material beings emanate.

You and your loved ones are a wave in the cosmos. A wave does not "die". It's a stupid misconception, as you cannot divide water from water. It is all the same body of water.

All this, of course, isn't very important, as you'll be revealed all this when you "die" anyways...

Honoring the memory of those that left us, is a great thing in itself. Just to tell or recall stories about them, this is what matters. This is what might connect us to them when we go back.

What is rest in power supposed to mean? I've never heard of that one.

Generally used when someone is killed doing something to resist oppression or was dedicated to resisting oppression during their life. It is a way of acknowledging their their work or actions while they were alive was something that was powerful to people and effected them.

Thank you sire! It sounds like 'rest in power' has high potential of turning into a cluster fuck. It applies borderline christianity afterlife connotations to it and to the dead. Even in death, it purports that the dead oppressed person still has the power to make a difference while they are 'resting.'

Definitely some residual X-tian warrior eschatology lurking in the phrase.

Ideas never belong to people, there is no copyright on intelligence. When you're dead you're dead, let's keep it simple and honest. Like Jesus, he died 2,000 yrs ago thankyou very much. There is 9nly the Now.

Death has been one of the more formative life events of my life this far. I lost a friend a year ago in quite tragic circumstances which dominated most of my thinking of him until now though recently I’ve been able reflect on more of him prior to his final day.
Because we didn’t have friends in common, and I don’t have close ties to his family, the stories we would have shared have fallen under my control. And what to do with them? Well, whatever I want I guess?
There's an odd sense of owing honesty that has come up when I've lost people previously. "Do right by them", "honor their memory", etc. And while I wish to retain some kind of accuracy in the details of the stories I tell and the details I retain, the interpretation is all me. With that in mind, here's my interpretations of some memories:

Several years ago, a close friend of mine began to develop a serious paranoid schizophrenia. Watching the sudden and drastic change in him was certainly hard, but something exceptionally unique came with it as well. As he began to make more abstract and distant connections between ideas, things, and experiences the results of our interactions changed. He shared a number of fascinating things with me, ideas I would have never dreamed of and that likely only he could have produced. In fact, there were a number of times he acted in ways I could only describe as psychic. Of course there were also some fairly incoherent, or even scary interactions but they were all part of a person who I cherished and wanted to celebrate. But of course “normalcy” and the “standard” could not be overcome. In the rest of his life, i.e. work, seeing not-so-close friends, and countless other spaces where "norms" dominate he faced endless antagonism to his whole existence. Others couldn't stomach the strange way he spoke and unexpected interpretations of what he sensed, and reacted out of discomfort. Anger, shame, alienation from others drove him into a self-destruction of anxiety, fear, and a complete denial of himself during which he took his life.
Fuck your normal, fuck your respect, fuck your expectations, fuck your standard, fuck your manners, fuck your psychologists, you killed my friend.

There is no guilt or innocence in you. All of that is past. Guilt belabors the dead and I am no the Iron Hammer. You multitude of the dead are merely people who have done certain things, and the memory of those things illuminates my path. -Leto II to His Memory-Lives After Haw al-Ada

What do you become when you die? Are you the words you said? The things you wrote? The things you made?

I'm sure that's part of it, but more than the things you had a conscious hand in, I imagine what you become is dispersed. People hold you in their minds, in their bodies, in whatever form they can remember and keep. If time is cyclical and ideas are more than electrical impulses in our brains, then these memories aren't necessarily just fading video recordings of a who a person was but actual pieces of them. Whether those who hold those pieces deserve to or not is up for debate, but I think they're there, some brighter, stronger, some grayer, smaller.

And what do people do with those pieces?

Some try to amplify the smaller pieces by placing them into statues of stone, static figures of who a person was. They build shrines around them, try to make love to them in the dark, try to make a connection in death that was never there in life.

Some with the strongest pieces find the light almost unbearable, burning them from the inside out. They could be seen as keepers of that light, guardians of memory, and surely in some ways that is true. But just as in life, people change in death. Our relationship to the dead changes, as our interpretations and memories necessarily change and warp, it changes our present. Our vision of what our futures would be changes, which in turn changes how we're living today.

In death many things are forgotten, many things forgiven, but nothing ends.

When I die I'm not sure if I'll be remembered. They say you'll likely be forgotten in something like 4 generations, and I think I'm fine with that if I was just an atom floating through space. But I want more than that. I want to live a life where each year me and my loved ones are dug up, where the living see the ways we've changed, what we've become, what they will become.

I want to eat my elders, not to steal their power, but to have that bodily understanding that they're a part of me. Any resulting sickness a reminder that I don't, however, own even that piece.

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