Skip to main content

Death, statistics and reality

 They are usually buried deep in official statistics folders, far away from awareness.  Death figures are not something anyone likes looking at on a regular, let alone daily, basis. Not even actuaries, presumably.

It changed with Covid-19 (why 19 when the pandemics started in 2020, but that's another question).

Daily death figures are everywhere. They do not make comfortable reading, listening to or talking about. For anyone who lost a relative or a friend, they are horrifically painful. If not, fear for one's own fate is a powerful enough trigger.

Starting with the ancients, not just classical Greece and Rome, death was a topic to ponder and draw wisdom from. Every thing that was left undone, all the words that could have been spoken, the impermanence of life, they were brought to the forefront of consciousness, or so we like to think.

It's not modern philosophers who invented "Memento Mori", nor are these two Latin words widely quoted. How could they be? They are translated as "remember death" or less abstract, "remember that you are mortal".

The current pandemic is generating, among other things, a daily death bulletin board. Does it get registered as we skim through the news? Is anyone looking at these numbers with a statistician's eyes, to understand how much of a killing machine the virus is?

Covid deniers need not read any further. There is a virus taking rounds and not enough is known about it so far. 

What can be said for sure is death has become much more of a presence in everyone's life. No idea if  this new reality is going to change anything in human  behaviour. 

Future social historians, you've got your work ready for you.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A dog's life

This is going to outrage dog lovers, but I think that humans’ tyrannical nature is revealed not just when it enslaves other humans, but also when it enslaves dogs. We never say 'free as a dog", do we? Just 'free as a bird'. Dogs and humans, not all what it seems. We take a wolf at heart and spend lots of time and energy teaching it to obey and react to commands.  (To be more historically accurate, the 'taking' happened a long time ago, and it succeeded, so very different from cats.) We are prepared to downsize our vocabulary to a few words in order to achieve that.  We literally put up with shit.  All in the name of training, while the true purpose looks more like having a totally obedient living being under our control, one emitting apparent devotion.  In humans it’s called the Stockholm syndrome.  Even the basic freedoms of sniffing and running are restricted anywhere near human habitat. It takes a trip back to the wild

Beauty within, beauty without

"Why Everyone (Else) Is a Hypocrite" is a wonderful book by Robert Kurzban and the site where you can read a bit about it has a great URL too: https://www.hypocrisybook.com. It is all about evolution and the mind that has different compartments, creating this apparently terrible habit of noticing inconsistencies in all but ourselves. As our mind is a kind of cabinet with many drawers and some of them are full of junk and others of exquisite art objects, things can look a bit incongruous. Our inner balance depends on ignoring the co-existence of junk and art and happily thinking of the whole cabinet as a solid piece of furniture.  This is of course a bit of a simplistic review of the book and the theory behind it, but it serves the purpose of my own theory: that physical beauty is our greatest source of hypocrisy. If there is a drawer that very few people dare to open, let alone examine its contents, that is the drawer of our looks. The real physical appearan

First Knight

Holding my breath on the edge of a language precipice, what a way to plunge into writing in anything else than my mother tongue. Mr Ambrose Bierce, would you like to have written "The foreigner's dictionary?"