August 26, 2002

�Y si canto de este modo
por encontrarlo oportuno
no es para mal de ninguno
sino para bien de todos�

(And when I say these things
because I find them fitting
it�s for the good of all
and meaning harm to none)

�Mart�n Fierro�, by Jos� Hern�ndez (1834-1886).

I dedicate this first entry to Tess, of (�A meanie with a heart of gold...�), the example of whose web log was the push I needed to start this long-gestating project.

�Death comes to us all. Yes, even to kings he does�, says Thomas More in Robert Bolt�s �A man for all seasons�. And indeed it is an important event in our future for which many of us do not prepare, which many of us do not even contemplate. It is the only thing that is certain in our future, and yet it comes to many as a surprise.

Memes about death are among the most powerful, harmful and wrong that influence our lives. �Death is nothing terrible, for if it were it would have seemed so to Socrates�, says Epictetus in his �Manual�. But the fear of death is the foundation of all systems of coercion and control; without it the basis for arbitrary authority crumbles.

Promoting the loathing of self-induced death is especially important for the patriarchy: it needs to deny its victims this ultimate escape.

�What a downer; how depressing these thoughts are!� is a common reaction when this subject is brought up. But the awareness of death enhances life and provides a fresh perspective.

It has been said that at the moment of dying nobody thinks �I should have spent more time at the office�: when evaluating any activity consider how are you likely to feel about it at the moment of dying: avoid activities that fail this test: life is too short for them.

When interacting with friends ask each other: �If one of us were to die in the next five minutes, is there anything we would regret not having said?� and say it immediately. None of us has the certainty of living for the next five minutes.

In �Journey to Ixtl�n� by Carlos Casta�eda his teacher, Don Juan Matus, instructs him to �take your death as an advisor�.

�Y si caigo �qu� es la vida?
�Por perdida ya la di
Cuando el yugo del esclavo
Como un bravo sacud�!�

(Should I lose it, what is life?
I already gave it up
When of slavery the shackles
I courageously shrugged off!)

�La canci�n del pirata� (The pirate�s song), by Jos� de Espronceda (1810-1842).