Mortality

Mortality, Magic, & Chinese Virus

Mortality was much on the mind of St. Augustine. In The City of God, he exhibits skepticism that a world thoroughly free of death-dealing plague could ever be possible. The tenor of this old quatrain has an Augustinian ring: Doctor, Doctor, will I die? Yes, my child, and so shall I. Like the original wording of many eighteenth century nursery rhymes, the lines irritate modern ears. Twentieth century sensibilities revised it to suit a well-fed, housed, and vaccinated generation poised to dismiss dispiriting reminders of mortality. Continue Reading
Tomb in Arcadia. Illustration for manuscript by René d’Anjou (1457).

Without an ever-present sense of death life is insipid. You might as well live on the whites of eggs. —Inspector Mortimer, in Muriel Spark’s Memento Mori
What does our mania for bottled water have to do with memento mori? More than a little, I think. Stay with me, please, while I work this out. A bottle of one’s own is a token of our times. We are all hydrophiliacs now. It used to be that bottled water was the sensible alternative to tap in tourist meccas with precarious hygiene. Continue Reading
Snapping turtle

Why did the snapping turtle cross the road? To lay eggs, of course. But you knew that. I had started the Subaru and was releasing the clutch before I saw a carapace big as my steering wheel in the rear view mirror. The town turtle was resting in the middle of the driveway, blocking me from backing up. Please do not mind if I talk turtle for a little while. It has been three years since I saw her last. It touched me to have a glimpse of her again yesterday. Continue Reading