We’ve all thought about it in some way or another. Whether it be because we’ve had someone die or because we’ve thought about our own death. And I’ll be the first one to admit that, probably more than it’s considered healthy, I’ve thought about my own demise — How I’d like to go out in a blaze of glory doing something that wouldn’t necessarily make the papers, but that would change a person’s life and then how I’d most likely die by some random incident that would make people go ‘she died from what?!’
It’s an interesting topic.
One that I am not afraid to say fascinates me. Cute things are still at the top of the list, but death follows closely.
Now a days in our present culture, it is widely accepted to speak about death as a subject. To say the word death and talk about a person actually dying. However, this is not the case in other cultures. For instance in Russia it is somewhat of an unspoken taboo to say these words in regards to people. They view the subject as something that happens, but they do not wish to bring it upon anyone.
In an article written by Elena Khatskevich titled “Talking about Death in Russian Culture“, she describes the participants of her study avoiding using death attributes to living people. Instead of saying the words ‘death’, ‘die’, ‘died’, or ‘dead’, they would simply say ‘this’, ‘it’, or ‘something’. The reason being, talking about such things in reference to living people is like challenging death and could quite possibly make that person die sooner than they should. This is especially true of the sick and injured, as their soul is considered in a precarious state. And in old Russian myths that would be considered a “bad” death. That persons soul would linger around in the world of the living until the time when they would have naturally died, whether that time be 40 years from when they died or 2 weeks. Those bodies cannot be properly buried until such time either. Or they are sometimes simply not buried at all, but rather covered with rocks and sticks.
However, the Russians do not avoid the subject of death altogether. It is perfectly acceptable to be sitting around discussion philosophically the concept of life and death. They enjoy exploring the topic of death and life after death on a broader scale. Though as soon as the subject starts to take a turn towards hypothetical or concrete it is considered a no-no. It brings about bad luck.
There’s really not much in this blog post that ties back in Luke A. Fidler‘s essay about death masks, and how people used to keep them, besides the fact that they are both about death. The fun thing I like about both of these blog posts is the sheer contrast that they pose to each other. One is all about keeping artifacts from the dead and basally a piece of that dead body. The other about a culture that cannot put death attributes to living people and would be absolutely terrified of the immense drought, plague, and bad juju that keeping a piece of a dead person’s body would bring upon them.
An inevitable part of every humans life. We all suffer from this fatal disease called living.