Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Essay: "Death." Lu Hsun

Review: Thoughts on death, the belief in ghosts (‘souls’ r ‘spirits’) and the transmigration of souls. The wealthy prefer to be ghosts, the poor to be born again as babies because they have no fine clothes to cut a good figure after death. The wealthy? “Just as in life they expect to be a privileged class. Round about the age of fifty, they look for a burial place, buy a coffin, and burn paper money to open a bank account in the nether regions, expecting their sons and grandsons to sacrifice to them every year.” The author has some
Practical thoughts on dying, death, and living:

.Don’t accept a cent from anyone for the funeral.
.Get the whole thing over quickly, have me buried and be done with it.
.Do nothing in the way of commemoration.
.Forget me and live your own lives.
.Don’t take other people’s promises seriously.
.Have nothing to do with people who injure others but who oppose revenge and advocate tolerance.
.If this is dying, it isn’t really painful. It may not be quite like this at the end, of course; but still, since this happens only once in a lifetime, I can take it….”

The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present. Ed. Phillip Lopate. New York: Anchor Books. A Division of Random House, Inc. 1995.

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