Saturday, November 16, 2013

never speak ______ of the dead

Perhaps it would make life easier if there were a prohibition against speaking of the dead. If there were such a prohibition, perhaps the facile willingness to eulogize or demonize would be held in check and the personal confusions be fewer.

Pick a hero or saint or loved one, any hero or saint or loved one.

Pick a villain or much-despised figure, any villain or much-despised figure.

The thing about the dead is that they are no longer in a position to correct the views applied to them. They can no longer -- by thought, word or deed -- bring nuance and dimension to the appreciations of the living.

The dead can't talk back and this places the living in a position where warming tableaux and righteous fulminations rise up with abandon. Often reckless abandon.

"Never speak ill of the dead" only tells half the story, I think. Speaking well of them merely compounds the errors and difficulties of the living.

I know it ain't gonna happen, but that doesn't mean I can't think about it and give myself a nudge.

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