Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Crude Typologies of Mortality Awareness

In the near future, I may get a bit mystical on you, but not quite yet. For now, let's see if this crude typology of responses to our human mortality rings at all true for you:

1. I ignore my death, just shut it down and shout it out, live life to the full, don't look into the future too much if at all, live for yourself, get what you can.If I party a lot and drink too much, so what? Life's short in any case. Sex is great, who cares about relationships in the longer term? I live for my own sensual pleasure. Meet the Witless Hedonist, or WH.

2. I'm not a WH, but I do believe in living for the moment as far as possible, I don't want to think about my death, but I will act responsibly towards others whilst seeking a good time, however that's defined - it might be sailing round the world, listening to and playing music or keeping pigeons, doesn't matter as long as it's relatively harmless to others and I enjoy it. When your time's up, it's up - don't want to dwell on the idea. I'm the Thoughtful Hedonist, TH.

3. I'm not a hedonist. I think we are here to help others, be part of the great human venture, make the world a better place. I fulfill myself by working for the general good. My ambition is that when I die, the world will be a better place than if I had never lived. That'll do for me. I'll face death with that consolation in my grasp. I'm the Servant of the People, SP. (or of the Planet, if I'm as much an environmentalist as a humanitarian. After all, there are too many of us!)

4. I'm a believer in and follower of an established religion. I believe in a literal afterlife, none of your quasi-religious, ultra liberal, in my doubt is my faith-type nonsense for me. I Know That My Redeemer Liveth, I'll see Him after death, and I'll meet up with those of my family and friends who have lived well enough to pass the celestial 11+ run by St Peter's Joint Exam Board. Why should I fear death? (Though I hope it doesn't hurt too much.) I am the True Believer (TB)

5. I'm a reasonably careful and responsible citizen, not a WH, I hate the idea of death because it's a parting with all I love and care about, I dread the pain it will cause to those who are close to me, and I spend a lot of psychnic energy shutting death out of my mind. Mortality is just a polite name for death. I'm Running Scared. (RS)

Any good? No doubt there's lots more, and lots of subdivisions, but these are the ones I most frequently encounter.


  1. I think it's possible to be a combination of more than one type. I think I'm both 3 and 4. Do you think it's possible?
    I like these definitions though. I would imagine the vast majority of us fit at least one category.

  2. Thanks Amy for your comment, and welcome (don't remember seeing your name up before, but then, "remember" is a slightly more relative term for me than it used to be..)
    I'm sure you're right, many of us will be a combination of two, or maybe mostly one with a dash of another!
    I'll take this theme a little further in the next few days.

  3. I definitely go for the six of one, half a dozen of the other theory. For all that we try to establish patterns, we look back and see mostly muddle - because we live life forwards but understand it backwards. You have still given us a very bracing reality-checklist, though, GM!

  4. I agree with Amy, that we are a mix, different at different times.

    Great summary though, Gloria. Thinking of using the titles for compiling different types of readings etc. Could be an interesting filing system!