"Like when someone dies, don't dwell on it"

Daehyun Kim's black-and-white line drawings feature androgynous figures wearing simple black leotards, contemplating their own faces and fates. A suitable complement for Tim Krieder's NYT Anxiety op-ed, "You Are Going To Die."

"The mortality rate is holding at a scandalous 100 percent."

Of course this makes me think of Joan Didion's Blue Nights. For months I was obsessed with every plot line explored in this sad, skin-shedding rumination on lives lived: the psychic scars of adoption, the conscious and painful shedding of the habits of youth and the condemnation of contemporary Western death culture. 

Kriedner takes on much of the same argument: that we live in a time where death, the unsuspecting, quiet kind, is forced out of our imaginations because we place a premium on youth, because we are selfish, because a majority of people are privileged enough to die cloistered away in hospitals these days, because growing old is a bad dream. This leads, as Didion also suggests, to a kind of suppression of the very real and necessary emotions surrounding death. 

Right now, you can go see Michael Haneke's Amour in theatres. It's a sparse, askew-angled film about the death as a function of time in the lives of an octogenarian couple. Amour is slow and sad. There are closed doors everywhere and unfamiliar, body-tensing cries of anguish, pain, anger. It is essentially a film about death as Didion and Kriedner want us to remember, to live. In a New Yorker review of Amour Teju Cole writes:

Haneke shows how implacably difficult the last of those days can be. Even when the end is certain, the days must be lived, and little can be done to hurry things along. To express such things well in a film, to express them in a humane and unflinching way, to resist the temptation to entertain or soothe, to keep the film as arid as the material, as Haneke has done in “Amour,” is to provide some very small but indispensible comfort.

Death as a circumstance of old age, at the end of the story, is somewhat of a boon humans have enabled and fought for, forever. It is still a luxury in some parts of the world, but it's the most desired of human inevitabilities. The fact of death is what propels us forward; it is the silent protagonist in all of our stories, a very real face unseen.

Aracelis Girmay + Jenny Zhang