Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Death II

(The illustration shows the feminine personification of Death, a prominent character in Neil Gaiman's The Sandman. "Death" is copyright Neil Gaiman and Mike Dringenberg. Not that they invented the idea of dying or anything...)

The second time Flandry and Aycharaych discuss mortality, Aycharaych suggests that knowledge of an early death inspires human artistic creativity. All races are mortal but maybe some are longer lived? Flandry realizes of Aycharaych:

"'You must have played your game for centuries...'"
-Poul Anderson, Sir Dominic Flandry: The Last Of Terra (New York, 2012), p. 599.

When Flandry's life is endangered, he reminds himself:

"...that ultimate purity lies in death." (p. 594)

What does he mean by this and why has he come to think it? Later, reflecting on his murdered fiancee, Kossara, he thinks:

"For a while I wasn't [alone]; and now she is; she is down in the aloneness which is eternal." (p. 599).

Death is ultimate purity and eternal aloneness. OK. Flandry's belief differs from that of his fiancee's people, to whom she becomes St Kossara.

Later again, Flandry thinks:

"...we're holding our own against the Old Man."
-Poul Anderson, Flandry's Legacy (New York, 2012), p. 31.

The masculine personification does little harm, although we Gaimanites know better.

Flandry continues:

"Why not? What's his hurry? He's hauled in Kossara and young Dominic and Hans and - how many more? I can be left to wait his convenience." (ibid.)

This is another aspect of our condition. The longer we live, the more acquaintances we outlive. But we can keep going and can do it for them. An old man, asked directions to the crematorium, said, "I've been there so many times. Next time, it'll be for myself!"

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