Medical, Mortuary and Military: Being Born in a Stampede and What to Do About It
As many of you will know, I spend all my time immersed in death.
Well, we all do. But what I mean is actively, presently.
I reflect on it.
I meditate on it.
It motivates my every action.
It gives me great strength.
And the willful ignorance the concept inspires in people, inspires in me a great fury.
This ignorance is why we have pettiness. And paperwork. Two of my least favourite “P”‘s.
My favoured philosophers are those who deal most aptly with death.
My research interests,
And thus reading courses in the sciences,
Find their focus falls to death. Almost by default.
I see death everywhere. More contingent for every social theory than the theory of evolution itself.
Death is requisite in evolution!
I worked a hospital to take a closer look,
To take council with the weathered.
Even when working in a hospital, watching people act out their part to save lives,
Extend lives. Even as I played my role in the same way;
Death was the only reason I was there.
Again, why all of us were there.
But we do not, dare not, speak like that.
I know a range of specialists.
Medical and psychological .
Philosophers. Spiritualists. Social and behavioural scientists.
I know people who have died young;
People who have come close;
People hastily making their way.
I am immersed in the aether of people who kill for a living;
By necessity and by accident.
Immersed in the aether of people who kill for free.
I know those who deal only with the dying;
And I even have one friend who deals only with our dead.
One poignant thing I’ve noted, is that when I talk about “death”;
I mean suffering to be inclusive. It is not some optional extra to be had on the side, hold the anguish.
For you see, for me, “death” and “dying” are two sides of the same coin.
But for others this is patently not so.
Philosophers abstract. Physicians detach.
Medico’s focus on life.
Either this life; Or treatment life.
Or the median expected life.
Or the median expected treatment life, of the next life;
In the next room, on the next bed. Laying. Living. Waiting to be seen.
Morticians miss the death, and abstract the dying;
And only arrive in time to see the dead.
Morticians see mourning and moaning and prayer;
But never dying, only the dead.
Youth, who think they want to join the military;
Who are told, as they must be told, that they want to join the military;
Only know the theatre of death. Can only know the theatre.
With powerful forces working to keep it that way, to be sure.
There are heroes! They are told there are heroes. That they are heroes!
They are taught there are heroes, and that they are heroes;
And that pain; And disability;
Are, in the military, distant relatives of any such thing they have known so far.
But that it is important, very important;
That heroes sign their lives away, to follow orders, to never question.
(I guess that is what heroes do).
This the heroes are told, that and much more.
Told these things, and in such ways, that a power beyond the awareness of the teller is yielded.
Wielded. Of this much I am sure.
Of what I am unsure, is were they not told such things;
Or were they told different things, other things.
Terrible things: but truer things.
And told such with equal fervor:
Could it matter?
Pieces are fractured. Intentionally fragmented.
In each case, they’re fractured and fragmented;
By, and for, all parties involved.
I find the whole practice disquieting.
And yet. And yet.
And yet, I am no longer certain you even can assist someone;
Especially someone young and healthy;
Certainly not if they do not wish to even try;
But maybe not at all;
People can not necessarily be aided to touch death. Period.
And how would you know if they did?
I suspect you would know. But I couldn’t say how you would know.
You would just KNOW.
It is not easily faked that understanding.
Besides, should medical, mortuary and military personnel really be encouraged to engage this subject matter?
Engage it honestly, and, possibly, prematurely?
Firstly, can it even be done, it certainly does not appear so, not easily;
But that aside; Would such behaviour inevitably lead only to earlier (or instant) burn out?
Not from any great fault of the agent;
But because of hard wiring in the machine.
I am actually uncertain.
My instinct is nothing is of benefit being off limits to the mind.
But that removes such a position as “death awareness” so very far from its social context;
Too far from this place and time;
So far that the suggestion becomes unrealistic.
Not necessarily incorrect, mind; Just unrealistic.
Look at the data. Will we fight unbalanced wars by lottery;
Try to fix politics;
And collect our own dead?
The Hell you say!
Send them in blind, then socially bind.
Let that be the rule. We’re good at it after all.
I have been amazed to hear my mortician friend’s tales;
The site boss, an industry veteran of some years;
Would not enter the room of the actual steal slab, was it at all possible to avoid. As with reception, equally veteran.
One could avoid it quite well, if not in the funeral business, one might argue.
But social binding doesn’t allow for that kind of thinking.
You have a mortgage, after all. Or some such thing.
Stigma. Parents approval. Or disappointment. Church. Love.
We’ll always find something. You can choose your own chains, such kind jailers are we.
Equally amazed, I’ve been;
To witness medical personnel who could live, eat and breathe death;
But also somehow still avoid the topic altogether.
(Except in a superficial and thoroughly scripted sense).
Illness always happened to others;
They were not on the team that got sick, after all:
That was the “away” side;
And they only played home games.
Professionals watching a daily film on their industry.
It seems like only about a fifth of the likely terminal were of an awareness context;
One such that open discourse was even a plausibility worthy of hope for possibility.
And even this was frowned upon, and marred besides.
And by other treatment hazards and poisons.
Most of all by sociability.
We work our tricks too well.
Frenzy people to be so afraid of death, that death itself won’t snap them out of it.
The literature talks about paths to a kind of “acceptance” that I really just have to verify myself.
I’ve seen enough people sick;
Of enough ages;
And with enough incarnations of the “those’s” that act around them;
To know there are some specific questions that beg probing.
I see with different eyes. I always have, why pretend.
It is not as if any who know me would deny it.
And it is not any kind of arrogance to know as much for myself:
No one said it was better, or even in any sense a “good”, after all.
I think it was Gardner.
Who identified a 9th intelligence, an “existential intelligence”.
One that saw persons so “disposed”.
Or “cursed”, or “destined”, what have you, to engage such thought.
Unfortunately, the 9th intelligence never made the final cut.
Is a talent, on the psychological cutting room floor, still a talent;
If it is not in the clinical testing kit?
Well, either it did not make it in, or else it did;
Only on the other side!
Which would mean it now winds it’s way;
Through the pages of the DSM.
But I doubt it;
That would imply they have found a drug to treat it, after all.
“No market no ink”, as they say in psychiatry.
In any event, even an honest awareness of the mere plausibility of death;
Would see people, by necessity;
Engage the world differently to how they do now.
I don’t believe, at this stage, that clinical staff;
Especially wealthy clinical staff;
Can work 18 day blocks or 13 hour shifts in good conscience;
If they’ve allowed themselves to touch death.
Unless, of course, it is as a tactic:
Avoidance through immersion.
Issues like gay rights and gender and race would surely melt away.
Poorly made death masks that they are.
Compartmentalisation would fade.
And certainly no such person;
At least in any awareness context I have been able to conceive of;
(Or even dream of);
So far, could easily choose to work most of the days of their life.
And certainly not gladly. Certainly not.
But that leaves a bit of a puzzle.
Because there sure are a lot of them.
And they will claw your eyes out should you mention it;
The act itself an indictment:
“Oi, back off! You nearly reminded me of the possibility of death;
Of MY death:
And I won’t have it mate!”.
Death may well be the only true universal;
Yet with that metallic taste of unclean irony:
It not only fails to bring people together;
But tears individuals apart within themselves.
Death was the seminal other.
But it proved too tough a foe to stare down directly.
So, instead, everyone immediately ran screaming;
Trampling or hurling any brother;
Any blood; Any child;
Up and over their shoulder, or under their feet-
But always behind them to the ground, as they move by.
And all the while shouting;
With a cemented two eared grin;
“ITS GOING TO BE OK BILLY! ITS GOING TO BE OK LITTLE SUZIE! EVERYTHING IS GOING TO OK!!”;
As up, and over the shoulder, and into the air goes Billy.
People will drink to insanity;
Or even kill themselves:
All to avoid death.
Yes, work our tricks too well.
Born into a stampede.
I mean, you have to start running don’t you?
Or, at the very least;
Break into a jog.
J.J.R for Crystal Chronicle [7/2013].
“Medical, Mortuary and Military”. Ed1. (GSI Internal Sub).