a long week of r.i.p.’s

January 15, 2016

I’ve never dealt with death very well.  I’ve managed to stay mostly insulated from it — I didn’t lose a grandparent until I was 28, for example.  So when it hits. . .it hits.

Celebrity death — the death of people I don’t know, have never met, and yet whose work I care about — seems to distill and concentrate the issue for me.  Maybe I shouldn’t grieve this much for people I don’t know.  But their work.  Their work is so tangible, and the thought that there won’t be any more, and that I will be reminded of this gutted feeling every time I encounter their work — even as I’m so deeply, massively grateful that their work exists — just flattens me.

David Bowie and Alan Rickman in the same week seems just. . .wrong.  So, so wrong.

What’s more, and for the first time, I can see the time when all my favorite creative artists and makers are gone, and I don’t know any of the new young faces coming up, and I am past.  Out of the world.  And thank God for art.  Just. . .art.  We would all be walking dead people without art.

Art lasts.  All these people last.  Death isn’t real.  Death is just a thing that happens but art stays.




6 Responses to “a long week of r.i.p.’s”

  1. DebbieW Says:

    Eloquently put. I still feel gutted for David Bowie & his lyrics keep running through my head along with memories of seeing him in concert. Now to think about a world without him and Alan Rickman is just daunting. But their art WILL be there for us and future generations to appreciate. Hang in there.

  2. Zack G Says:

    Death is hard. We basically do everything we can to pretend it doesn’t happen. I’ve lost a lot of people and every time a celebrity dies I feel the aftershocks of someone else’s tragedy. This week’s been particularly rough because my dad died just a couple days ago, and there’s been this huge outpouring of love and condolences for Bowie and Rickman. I always feel uncomfortable when a celebrity dies and the statuses start flying in, because I don’t know what they’re for or who they’re helping. With these two guys though, you have such solid contributions to the art world, and I respect that so much, I wish I’d found Bowie much earlier in my life than I did, and Rickman always seemed like the cranky sarcastic uncle I never had (barring the actual cranky sarcastic uncle I have, who doesn’t look or sound anything like Alan Rickman and therefore doesn’t compare). The art does live on, despite everything.

    But the person doesn’t. People die and disappear and time leaves their work a slowly smudging impression. Even now all I can really think is, most of the headlines for Bowie were “Labyrinth/Prestige actor, musician dead.” Most of the Rickman headlines were “Professor Snape, Hans Gruber dead.” It’s just a way to grab people off the street. It isn’t sad because Rickman played Snape and now he’s dead. He played Snape (among so many other amazing roles)- that’s just a fact that isn’t going away. The art lives on. What’s sad is that the person is gone. Bowie’s friends and family won’t get to talk to him again, won’t get to ask him that one question they always meant to ask but were afraid to. It’s sad because they should have had so much longer to live, even if they had spent the rest of that time doing absolutely nothing with their careers. We as relatives of the art, we haven’t lost anything besides the potential for more of what we love. Maybe that isn’t so terribly different, and I’m REALLY unfairly biased right now because of my own situation. It isn’t my place or anyone’s to say what is or isn’t an appropriate way to grieve. The whole thing is just a complicated mess.

  3. carriev Says:

    Zach, I’m so sorry about your father, my deepest condolences.

    I had a good friend in college. We played in a Star Wars RPG campaign together and had so much fun. He died in a really terrible accident about 15 years ago. With all the Star Wars stuff around now I keep thinking about him and wishing I could talk to him about it. 15 years and it still sucks.

  4. Hello! Browsed the WonderCon guest list, found your website, landed here. Love everything I have read thus far. Had to tell you. So many things worthy of comment, but regarding this entry on Death and the immortality of Art … well it reminded me of my university days as a Comparative Literature major. I actually leapt up from the couch – careful to remove the laptop first, of course! – and began pulling books off the shelves. Paperbacks of Baudelaire, Zadie Smith, even Joyce … all with underlined phrases and neon sticky notes. It was almost as fun as watching Star Wars again, for the first time 😉 So, thank you. Thank you for writing.

  5. carriev Says:

    Thank you for reading! Hmm…I’ve got some Baudelaire on my shelf I haven’t looked at in a while…

  6. My only regret with Baudelaire is that I forgot to take him with me when I visited Paris. It’s funny how the things which were important in our 20s become forgettable in our 30s.

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