In a letter following the death from scarlet fever of his beloved five-year-old son, American transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: “I chiefly grieve that I cannot grieve.” Later, in an essay, this: “The only thing grief has taught me, is how shallow it is.”
We live immersed in a terror of death. That needs to be accounted for when we examine our own individual attitudes toward end of life. Which, of course, is a complete oxymoron. There is no end of life. Bodies appear and disappear, is all.
James Baldwin: “I do not like people whose principal aim is pleasure.” And neither do pleasure seekers like themselves. Two of Baldwin’s contemporaries, Andy Warhol and Truman Capote, died from pleasure in extremis.