Man Vs. Corpse

One of my favorite writers, Zadie Smith, has a piece in the New York Review of Books on art, corpses, and the problem with a culture full of people who can’t visualize their own bodies once they die:

A persistent problem for artists: How can I insist upon the reality of death, for others, and for myself? This is not mere existentialist noodling (though it can surely be that, too). It’s a part of what art is here to imagine for us and with us. (I’m a sentimental humanist: I believe art is here to help, even if the help is painful—especially then.) Elsewhere, death is rarely seriously imagined or even discussed—unless some young man in Silicon Valley is working on permanently eradicating it. Yet a world in which no one, from policymakers to adolescents, can imagine themselves as abject corpses—a world consisting only of thrusting, vigorous men walking boldly out of frame—will surely prove a demented and difficult place in which to live. A world of illusion.

It’s long and interesting, and on a topic I often think about. What do you think?


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