Falkirk Wheel, Panoramic view.

Falkirk Wheel, Panoramic view.
Image by Cameron Lyall, GNU license Wikimedia

15 June 2011

Out-of-placeness and Death

This post will be about death. Having watched a number of Lifetime films and Law and Order: SVU, I am as paranoid as a young woman can be, even more so during travel. De Bottom, in A Week in the Airport, explains that crime novels and murder mysteries are favorite literature choices among travelers of the air. He doesn’t go into detail on why this is so, but I have my own theory. On the plane I watched a “Lifetime Motionpicture,” i.e. films that could fit into the Lifetime movie genre, but their A-list actors stop them from doing so. In this case, I was watching The Resident, a film starring Hilary Swank (who is in fact a star of the Lifetime sorority thriller, Dying to Belong), who just moved into a new apartment. Cutting to the chase: she is spied on and attacked (so Lifetime, right?). I understand death is inevitable and I could very much be spied on and attacked by my landlord, but falling out of the sky into the ocean below trumps this fear. I have a fear of dying out-of-place and I think this is a common human fear. When people go missing, people often accept their death before they accept a dead, missing body. We believe the dead have their proper place.

Cheating death and arriving in Edinburgh, I knew I wanted to explore this fear further and what better place to do so than Greyfriar’s Kirkyard. This cemetery was the scene of many grave robberies. People became so fearful of grave robbers that they created contraptions to protect their bodies from corporeal theft. While the reason was probably religious (concerning the afterlife) I still believe out-of-place dead bodies is a concern today.

I visited a second grave yard in Dundee on a tour. The tour guide explained that the bodies were probably incorrectly marked, because the Victorians decided to tidy up and put the gravestones in straight, neat rows. The group grasped in horror. A classmate and I shared looks of “oh well, they are still in the graveyard.” My fear is that my body will be missing from the graveyard completely or in the dumpster of McDonalds and I HATE MCDONALDS. I am not religious and my thoughts on the afterlife are rather “whatever,” but I want my body to be in a place of my choosing, a place I wouldn’t be embarrassed being found in, or a favorite location.

So back to airports. I consider such places to be in-between places. I have a fear that my body, alive or not, will not make it from point A to point B. Why do we worry about where our dead bodies end up so much? Do dead bodies really have a proper place?

Last time being morbid…and done.

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