Thursday, July 24, 2008

deathly thoughts

I've always enjoyed the concept of Danse Macabre, mainly for the sheer equality of it, the contentment in knowing that no matter who you are, what you do, what you accumulate, you'll still get to meet Death.

I've just followed a few links to a wonderful blogpost about the history of Death in Art (via Morbid Anatomy), a serendipitious find because my brain is in this space while I read Jose Saramago's Death at Intervals.

Saramago is sometimes a tricky read; I love each premise with which he starts a book, but during the read I find myself skimming because his writing can get a bit... dense isn't the word, neither is waffly. But it's a mix of the two. His punctuation is intensely personal. He's very much a philosopher, and brings this into his fictional speculations: what if? What if everyone in a country (they're usually anonymous fictional realms with hints of South America or Eastern Europe)... goes blind (Blindness) or stops dying (Death at Intervals)? Each time he gets a chance to poke fun at authority, pick holes in their pretentions, and celebrate the richness of an everyday life.

I haven't finished Death at Intervals, but I'm enjoying the idea of death (the lowercase is not only deliberate but essential) announcing her arrival with violet-coloured envelopes and hand-written notes. Overtones of Terry Pratchett's Reaper Man but with a lot more seriousness in its aims.

OK. Back to printing. Only two more sessions and I have a completed book (without a cover as yet)! I promise I'll write properly about that soon. There hasn't been enough printing on this blog for a while, but there's been plenty IRL.

1 comment:

chosha said...

A friend of mine in Japan has a set of Buddhist prayer beads (they look like a bracelet of round wooden or glass or gem stone beads) where each bead is actually a carved wooden skull. I thought it was kind of dark until he explained this same idea you've given, that it is to remind him that death makes us all equal and that all people face the same end. I thought that was cool.