Death, Decay and the Mad Tyrant in Moscow

The generative role of death and decay reaches far beyond the simple yet significant facts of nutrient cycles into narrative and memory. I am endlessly fascinated by the ways in which our cultures, languages and selves are wrapped around this irreducibly hollow fact of mortality and transience.

Pick a culture, a time, a place and pick a story or social idiom no matter how bright and hopeful or full of joy and I expect that we will find this darkness and haunted desolation dwells there unmasked and naked not far below the surface of all pretence and civilisation. The corollary might be that culture and myth (even history) is a record of time as mask and bulwark against the end of all narrative, of all self.

As some mad tyrant in Moscow threatens to extinguish us all, I wonder if we might never get beyond these unacknowledged obsessions with death and oblivion. Quite an irony, in some ways that we all (although clearly some more than others) build our selves and these fantasies of significance from the superficiality sparkling darkness of our own absence and oblivion.

Everything returns to dust eventually and it is our fear writ large that accelerates us all towards it. I really want to get off this ride…

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