Thursday, January 24, 2013
Jacking up death
An amusing coda to the recent musings on death and how we might stage it arose the other day at a friend’s countryside retreat here in Ghana. A powerful figure on the political and economic landscape for decades here, my friend was commenting on a recent bereavement and the disposal of the body. As I said the other day, cremations have arrived in Accra.
He did not take to the notion at all, the reason being that he was worried that he might be in a coma when the all-consuming fires embraced him. I suggested that the crematorium might try burning a tiny part of him to check his state of consciousness but no, burial was what he wanted. He said that if he was not dead but woke up under the ground, he might then lever the lid off his casket. I said that he would need to leave instructions that the lid should not be screwed down and that the earth above should not be too deep. (It reminded me of Tarantino’s Kill Bill scene where the alluring assassin, Uma Thurman, uses her karate powers to break free from the earth, pounding the coffin lid until it splinters under her bloody knuckles.) I also suggested that he should be interred with a car jack to facilitated awakening from his deceptive sleep of death.
In Azimuth the dire warning that you will cut up and scatter your enemy’s dead body across a terrain to prevent the soul’s journey to the next place, is dramatically realised. You cannot cross the divide, less than whole. It is a harsh deterrent to those who might mess with you, your cult and your god.
Nor has this atavistic belief completely disappeared. Recent distress in the UK at organs being appropriated for research without permission from hospital mortuaries and, as a consequence, offering up the body, incomplete, attests to it.