You know, I had just posted in my bit on the Life of Brian ban that I am afraid of death. Well, I said timor mortis conturbat me, but if you know a little Latin you know what I was on about, or like myself, picked up on this phrase in some grand old poem (Rexroth's Thou Shalt Not Kill is grand). But really, if I'm an atheist, why should I fear death?
I dunno. The translation of the phrase is, "The fear of death disturbs me." I guess the fear of death does disturb me; if I am actually gone and have ceased to be and all that's left of me is the organic remains which may be buried, burned, or eaten for all I should care, oh, and some odd MB adrift on the immortal internets of my blather both serious and not, I shouldn't at that point feel any particular way about my condition, that apparatus through which I feel having quit working. But I do persist in feeling some way about whether I live or die. And I do so like to pick at these peculiarities in my skull.
The pagans who had many gods but came to worship them less, left us this: Nothing to hold onto in Life, nothing to fear in death. But I don't suppose the average ancient wouldn't have defended his life, not mourned the passing of others.
Is it evolutionary--an imperitive from our genes to our brains that makes us cling to the mortal coil for all its' worth? You'd think, but I don't know that its so. It makes sense that a species should survive to reproduce, but a whole lot of suicides are of adolescents who haven't. I know that's just anecdotal, but it doesn't feel right to me, somehow. The young either don't think they'll ever die, or they rush to it. A paradox.
So, I wracked my brain to see if I knew what it was about death I found particularly unpleasant--and not the "getting dead" bits, which are rather unpleasant and may involve voiding of bladder and bowels and ungainly postures and massive hemorrages and clinically nasty business. What I've got so far:
1) My social life will not recover. True, there will be one larger-than-average party and it's to be expected people will drink to my name, but after that I do not expect much in the way of companionship and visits to whatever remains of my...remains will undoubtedly taper off.
2) I will miss something. I have come to view life largely as a spectacle for me to take in, experience, think about and learn from. I don't think anyone can help but have a somewhat self-centered view of the world, having only his or her own outlook to see the world through. So if I'm dead and not here to continue enjoying everything--
What's it still going on for? I know it will, and I feel a bit cheated. It's like having the finale episode of your favorite serial pre-empted, and never knowing exactly how it resolved. Very trying.
3) People will talk. I have found that the epigrammatic "Speak no ill of the dead" is more honored in the breech than in the observance. My reputation will endure, but I will have no content-control.
Vain reasons, but mine.