If you don’t speak english yet: Go and learn it. Now.
You’ll find out, amongst other things, that The Beatles‘ lyrics are massively overrated and that George W. Bush is even scarier without a translator.
And most of all, you’ll be able to read Charles‘ latest Hudsonblick called
Now is the Moment of My Death
This month, the United States is obsessed with dying. Not dying like „10,000 terrorists were killed in a police action in the Sunni Triangle“ or „10 Million Indonesians died in a mudslide“, these kinds of stories don“™t have that much effect here. Rather, we are dwelling on the story of the heavily litigated, highly politicized, and altogether tragic situation of one woman who died in Florida. Her story has distracted us from our habitual tallying of body counts, if only briefly, to consider the individual and personal experience of dying.
For me, this topic became very personal. As the cable news shows were reporting every physiological stage of this woman“™s decline, my wife“™s grandfather was checked into a hospice. He was in his nineties, and had simply stopped eating, eventually slipping into a comatose state. From what I knew of him, he was a tough old guy who refused to give old age an inch. A few years ago he fell off of his own roof while he was up there painting. A year or so ago he had a stroke, and fought back from it to regain his speech and mobility. It never seemed to cross his mind to stop pushing on. I have to wonder why he did stop. Was it a purposeful decision? Very soon after checking into the hospice he passed on. It was peaceful, and he was surrounded by family.
The experience of dying, and the choices around it, are not usually discussed openly: When do you want to stop living? When you“™ve run out of organs and brain cells, or before? Will you have the guts to accept the inevitable when it“™s your turn? The will of every organism is to keep living, but a cognizant creature desires to control her fate.
Most often recalled for the always quotable revelation of cannibalism at its climax, the movie Soylent Green also had a memorable vision of industrialized suicide. Choose your music. Choose your images. Turn them on, and drift off into eternity… Did anyone watch this without thinking what music they“™d want? Tough choice. As much as I love the Sex Pistols, for example, I think I“™d prefer something a little more existential. The third movement of Beethoven“™s Ninth, for example. With nitrous oxide. I“™ve experimented with this combination, and I think it has the effect that I“™m after. I might also be happy with morphine, which was generously provided to both my wife“™s grandfather and to the woman in Florida. It“™s comforting to know that the War on Drugs is suspended when you“™re on your final lap.
I was on morphine once in an intensive care unit (ICU) here in New York. I don“™t remember the drug being particularly euphoric, but maybe they were being stingy. It did make reading One Hundred Years of Solitude pretty trippy. I was in the ICU because I did something stupid while drunk and got a large hole put in my chest. It turned out to be completely treatable. Once I was in the emergency room, well, once I was in the second emergency room (fuck you, VA hospital!), they put a chest tube in my side and sent me off to morphine land. After a while (day and night do not exist in the ICU), a nurse came by to get some basic information: my name (Charles), next of kin (Mom), religious affiliation (Dead Kennedys), and one other thing:
„OK then….,“ she continued, going down her checklist, „Who would you like us to contact in case we need to take extraordinary measures?“
„Extraordinary measures? What do you mean?“
„In case your heart stops and we have to take extraordinary measures to revive you, who should we ask?“
I was confused. I was looking this woman in the eye, cogently answering questions, and she wanted to know what to do if there was an unimaginable fuck-up and I was suddenly on the brink of death.
„Take. Extraordinary. Measures.“
I was fairly young, in fairly good shape (modulo big hole in chest), and in the middle of a modern, fully equipped hospital… My plan was to walk out alive. But later I had to ask myself: under what conditions would I not want to be revived? If I was doomed to live in unbearable pain? If my brain could no longer control my body? If I was in the same state as that poor woman in Florida? In the first two cases, I would still be able to answer for myself. But in the last case? No question. Pull the plug. To Beethoven. With a big tank of nitrous.
Oh son of noble family, that which is called death has now arrived, so you should adopt this attitude: „˜I have arrived at the time of death, so now, by means of this death, I will adopt only the attitude of the enlightened state of mind, friendliness and compassion, and attain perfect enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings as limitless as space. With this attitude, at this special time for the sake of all sentient beings, I will recognize the luminosity of death as the dharmakaya, and attaining in that state the supreme realization of the Great Symbol, I will act for the good of all beings. If I do not attain this, I will recognize the bardo state as it is, and attaining the indivisible Great Symbol form in the bardo, I will act for the good of all beings as limitless as space in whatever way will influence them.“™ Without letting go of this attitude you should remember and practice whatever meditation teaching you have received in the past.
— The Tibetan Book of the Dead
„Let it roll!“ he screamed. „Just as high as the fucker can go! And when it comes to that fantastic note where the rabbit bites its own head off, I want you to throw that fuckin radio into the tub with me.“
— Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream