In the end when all is said and done, life is fragile, isn’t it?
As our eyesight fades and our memory meanders into meaninglessness, do you sometimes wonder what is the point in it all?
Why do we toil and fight and rise and fall day after day after day?
Why do we resist entropy? Why do we resist death?
Perhaps it is no surprise that the thought of death rises so swiftly to the forefront of our minds as of late. After all, we are nearing the second Christmas of a global pandemic, a post-apocalyptic optimistic new normal that should go down nicely in our history books, just like the Spanish Flu did. Wait, did they teach that in our history books?
I thought not. Like many random and meaningless events, it too will be lost in our global memory, swept under the floorboards like a bad dream that left a sour taste in the mouth. Or a lack of taste, I should say.
However, in spite of this constant threat of death, these thoughts of doom and gloom were not Covid inspired. To be fair, when is there not a constant looming threat of death?
In an eerie series of events in the past weeks, the reaper has reared its rickety head and presented itself at my neighbours’ doors on many occasions, until I cannot but heed its steady rapping and tapping.
It began with a mysterious disappearance. My significant other’s relative decided he would take a drive out to the salty coast of Negeri Sembilan to get some sea breeze, and ended up abandoning his car in the dunes of Port Dickson, never to be heard or seen. Despite a somewhat unstable past (don’t worry, no horses were hurt), it seemed a bit out of character to be a disappearing act for this boy. I like to imagine he was inspired by the film Into The Wild, where the protagonist valiantly and somewhat recklessly abandons his life and cuts off all contact with his past to experience the natural world to its fullest, to return to nature on his own terms.
Spoilers aside, it did not end well for a number of characters in the surrounding subplots recently. Our cat was found cold and curled up in an old shirt; several colleagues lost their loved ones; my significant other lost her grandmother. And there I was binge watching Sean Lock standup videos.
Spoiler: RIP to the legendary Sean Lock, said every single top comment of every single video.
I watched Dune (the latest one), and despite the stunning visuals, poignant acting and compelling plot (I’ve read the novel and have always loved it, and they did it more justice than I could ever put down in words), I couldn’t help but be saddened by the immense loss of life, albeit highly dramatised fictional loss.
Spoiler: some characters may not be returning for Part Two.
Extra spoiler: yes there is at least one sequel.
To avoid more spoilers, just go read the darn book. It’s a bit of a slow start, but once you get used to all the gibberish words (Mr. Herbert enjoyed crafting his own vernacular) it’s quite the ride!
It amazes me that it took decades and decades of special effects and computer graphics and visual bumfuckery to finally be able to achieve what this mastermind of imagination concocted back in the 60’s. It took the glorious mind of Mr. Villeneuve (I had to Google how to spell that) and Hans Zimmer and a ridiculous boatload of A-list actors to craft an epic science fiction masterpiece that could live up to the opus dei that is Frank Herbert’s Dune.
I was rather miffed that they gave away the sandworm riding so early on, because that was a major mindblowing moment for me in the novel, and in the film they almost casually toss it in, like some dude just randomly surfing the sand seas.
Wait until you find out where melange comes from.
Now that I think about it, they never once use the term melange in the movie…
Also the tone of the film is a little different from the novel, with the focus being drawn heavily to the local indigenous population of the battle-scarred planet of Arrakis. The novel focuses primarily on Paul of the house Atreides and his compatriots, while this film almost hijacks it by portraying a lot of it through Chani and sparkly dream sequences.
Anyway, this has somehow become a movie review. My point was that the film portrays loss and death very viscerally and directly and it does not shy away from the rather unsightly nature of the whole affair. Although not as graphic as Game of Thrones and its modern fantasy ilk, Dune is certainly a violent writhing mass of slaughter and…game of thrones, with great houses and factions vying for control of the known universe through the control of resources that come from this parched planet of pulverised spice.
So yes, you could say that death is at the forefront of my mind.
However, while it is something I contemplate greatly at times, it is not something I would consider myself partaking of, at least not prematurely.
I doubt I will go by my own hand.
Is that something I should be contemplating?
I see death somewhat romantically, cheesy even.
I see death as a celebration, as a brief flicker of a bright flame on a stodgy little birthday candle. Out, out brief candle as a lord once exclaimed.
For there to be death, there must first have been life. And so death is a celebration that there once was life, that there once was some degree of activity and vibrancy, a spark of joy and lust and growth and sadness.
All our lives we battle against the forces of nature and physics, defy gravity and entropy and the elements. We rise slowly and quickly and raise our fists to the sky and each other. And at the end we lay back down to rest, yielding to gravity and decay and the laws of the world, giving back what we have taken, gifting life to others.
Spoiler: in the end, it gets us all.
So the question is: what are you going to do about it?
For starters, go check out Dune if you haven’t already.
Life is so very fragile, isn’t it?