The negative contribution of our perceived reality of death on society .
In my current project “ Place “ I started a project surrounding our cultures interaction with death and its own mortality throughout history . How it is perceived as a taboo and as a species how we have been negatively influenced by it in many ways .
Throughout history man has shown his awareness of self and mortality through reflection in his artwork via different means such as vanitas and memento mori ( Latin for Remember you are mortal ) .
What do we fear about death
Nothingness . Never experiencing pleasure or anything again . Pain . Missing family and loved ones .
I think our conscious thoughts about experiencing loss are to blame for our fear of death even though when you rationally think about it what we are scared of is not possibly able to happen . Its just our thoughts of it that create the fear , our concept of death is created by the living and for the living it isn’t a real part of death . So surely we can create a concept of death that benefits us more than our current perception of it .
As when we are children and do not understand our own demise we are happier .
I am currently in the process of documenting two individuals lives .
A male called Roger who was the second person to undergo and the first person to survive a new operation called a percardiectomy . A Pericardiectomy is the surgical removal of part or most of the pericardium. This operation is most commonly done to relieve constrictive pericarditis or to remove a pericardium that is calcified and fibrous. Roger went into the operation theatre expecting to die . The operation was successful and he was granted extra time , whereas in nature he would of died . However this did not cause him to change his ways and he went back to drinking heavily . Our advancement in technology provides us with a means to extend our lives but is it really the correct direction in which society should progress for the benefit of prolonged group survival on this small planet .
The image above is Roger and the artefact he is holding is the actual image taken whilst he was in the surgery of his heart whilst he was being operated on . The thick membrane you see surrounding his heart should only be the width of a rizla paper . It becomes calcified thickens and puts strain on the heart .
We cant have billions of people surving to over 100 and all having children themselves the world would collapse under its exponential weight . We shouldn’t have let it reach these proportions in the first place .
My research led me think about how death is perceived of and impacts upon society today and to use the binary of Life and Death in my presentation elaborating on some theorys and insights I have gained whilst following the lives of these two people that I think would benefit the longevity of our species .
After witnessing their pain first hand . I tried to imagine what I could do to prevent it and help them in some way . Their pain is only brought about by their knowledge of a future negative self event and if we had no concept of our own death this misery could be avoided along with a lot of societys negative actions which at their root are caused by consumption generated by knowing our own mortality .
Our Greatest Problem is not Death . It is The Thought Of Death .
This led me to envisage my proposed theory . As I started to think and act as if I myself were in a world where death was not imagined and to photograph as if I was a person in that world creating living images of my hopes and dreams and the people whom I was documenting , this world seemed to be a better place to reside .
After your death you will be what you were before your birth . Authur schopenhauer . German Philosopher .
The idea of death , the fear of it haunts the human animal like nothing else , it is a mainspring of human activity designed largely to avoid the fatality of death . To overcome it by denying in some way it is the final destiny of man .
Ernest becker .
Our biggest downfall is knowing our own mortality .
Man consumes the world and everything in it to avoid his own death
Our knowledge of our own mortality creates unhealthy mindsets which promote selfish destruction of ourselves our planet and the people around us . Imagine a world where we have no concept of death how would it change our civilisation ?
Is it possible to consider the thought of our world and the people inhabiting it living without the idea of death subconsciously lingering in the background . I propose that all our contemporary problems are caused by this very realisation , especially in a world more enlightened about death being a final state . We are less religious and more people in our time don’t believe in an afterlife but instead put there trust in science . But also at the same time civilisation is driven by death , ( would our belief it didn’t exist hinder our development or just slow it down thus I think being beneficial ) , albeit at an unhealthy rate . We need to slow down and reach our goals of civilised advancement at a much reduced rate with a different driving force . Our very culture , religion and the subjects that have evolved through the ages such as science have been influenced by death and how we can avoid it . Religion was created to make people feel more comfortable about death and give them hope at an afterlife . Now we are becoming more scientific and losing our faith our realisation of death causes us to strive harder to avoid it but also feel more scared of its impending infinity of nothingness . We cannot imagine it … It is impossible to visualise . But many people people today know that it is the end .
Throughout history Kings and Queens have always tried to symbolically immortalise themselves through their very own reproduction in sculpture and paintings . Sort of like an old fashioned selfie . Whereas now we are in an age where the public symbolically immortalises themselves daily through selfies on facebook . As a species we have always sought to engineer our own immortality . Civilisation has grown upon a need to thwart our enemies , stave off disease , hunger , cold and ultimately death . Modern day attempts include stem cells, nano medicine and genetics . But at what cost ? What price must we pay ? The developmental greed of the western world has caused the beginning of the earths destruction .
Instead of the rich individually striving for immortality to protect the only thing they truly love ( themselves ) via any means neccessary , even if that means sacrificing the very planet they live on for future generations . We consume to survive and take more and more because we know our own fate and only wish ourselves the most pleasure possible .
If humans convinced the world there is a god then surely we could provide good reason there is nothing to worry about regarding death . Could we not persuade or teach people through science to see death as something we are happy to accept . Could we not banish death so our society thrives in a peaceful and loving state of deathlessness . Could our children not be convinced through education that it is a joyful concept , would it not be a better lie than religion to factually portray death to the world as not something we should fear but embrace . This would be a small sacrifice and price to pay to achieve the results it would bring . Would never being told or even knowing of its existence in the first place not make us a more peaceful species and more loving of our neighbour .
If death didn’t inhabit our mind would we not learn to think more as if everyone was the whole unit instead of selfishly and singular self consciousness . Thus more chance of prolonging our species survival . Everything would slow down and the way the world thinks would change as there would not be any need for a Human-Race to survive . Our consciousness would be less centred on greed , growth and protection and more so towards the moment and love as are animals that aren’t aware .
Death should not matter and should not be in our thoughts . We are all ignorant to knowledge about it as there is no way for us to know , It is just a thorn in our sides that we would be better off removing for the sanity and future of the earth . If we couldn’t comprehend it then everyone would carry on as normal until the very last second .
How long will it be until we are able to live longer and the rich living commonly reaching a century but the poor dwindling away quietly in their 40’s50’s , but still being told and believing our lifespans are increasing . Will we ever reach a point where we can live indefinitely becoming immortal and would this be a good thing . I think that if we can banish that very thought of our ideologys around life and death we would have a more peaceful and loving society .
Would we as a species not be happier ?
Our knowledge and fear of death promotes change but also creates monsters intent on destruction for their own survival .
The Final Place
Everything we do is subconsciously controlled by the thought of our own mortality . Our very culture was brought about to provide herd protection from our greatest fears and to prolong our inevitable fate . Sanitisation . Hospitals . Religion . Medicine . Genetics . Food . Our homes . Diet . Exercise ( to mention just a few ) you name it and ultimately it is a form of self preservation or security against the grim reaper .
But this growth and protection of ourselves through knowing that our final curtain will one day be drawn , leads us to excessive consumption of our surroundings to delay deaths rapid onslaught . Which in turn causes many of todays problems such as global warming and overpopulation .
I find it hard to believe that we could continue to sustain a population as big as ours and each individual within it with long healthy lives and not have the planet pay the ultimate price of complete extinction through our wanting of our own perpetuity . How ironic …..
Death is like a cultural disease that eats away at society .
I wonder if it is possible for an intellectually evolved society to be convinced it is immortal ?