Thursday, January 14, 2016

Death is not the end






Alan Rickman died, and though I was not a particular fan, I could not help but be aware of him. The fact that, like Bowie, he died in his 60s casts a chill, particularly in light of a chilling phone call I just got, with some medical test results that are Not Good, and perhaps not good At All.


There's a poem going around that Alan Rickman read at Robyn Hitchcock's 50th birthday party (not that I have any idea who HE is), and it's called Death is Not The End. I looked it up, and - sorry, I hated it, though I am sure that, as with Auden's splendid Funeral Bluesit'll be read at many a celebration-of-life-let's-pretend-he-isn't-dead-so-we-don't-ever-have-to-feel-any-grief blowout until the next thingie comes along. Sorry to be so cynical, but that's just how I feel. Death and its trappings are yet another fad to be tweeted about, then quickly forgotten.

Then I found this poem/lyric with the same title, only it was written by old Mr. Saddle Leather himself, Bob Dylan. This starts off well enough, almost sappily, but slowly becomes more - what, dysphoric? Dysphoric is a good term. By the end of the thing we have a miniature dystopia, if not a kind of teacup apocalypse complete with looting, raping, and mindless destruction. It's typical Dylan in that if you blow through it quickly, you won't get the full impact. Each verse adds another layer of hopelessness and doom until the city is ablaze, choked with the greasy black smoke of burning human flesh:

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned -





Death is Not The End

Lyrics by Bob Dylan


When you're sad and when you're lonely
And you haven't got a friend
Just remember that death is not the end

And all that you held sacred
Falls down and does not mend
Just remember that death is not the end

Not the end, not the end
Just remember that death is not the end




When you're standin' on their crossroads
That you cannot comprehend
Just remember that death is not the end

And all your dreams have vanished
And you don't know what's up the bend
Just remember that death is not the end

Not the end, not the end
Just remember that death is not the end

When the storm clouds gather round you
And heavy rains descend
Just remember that death is not the end




And there's no one there to comfort you
With a helpin' hand to lend
Just remember that death is not the end

Not the end, not the end
Just remember that death is not the end

Oh, the tree of life is growing
Where the spirit never dies
And the bright light of salvation shines
In dark and empty skies




When the cities are on fire
With the burnin' flesh of men
Just remember that death is not the end

And you search in vain to find
Just one law abiding citizen
Just remember that death is not the end

Not the end, not the end
Just remember that death is not the end

Not the end, not the end
Just remember that death is not the end

POST-BLOG. Late at night, as always, and wondering what it all Means, if anything. I went from the death of a celeb I barely recognized, to (unconsciously, at first) anxiety about two deaths of celebrities who were ONLY in their 60s, when I am ONLY in mine, to - that phone call - damn that phone call, but it might be nothing. Probably is, nothing is ever wrong with me, is there? It's just a test result.

When slowly sinking into the desperation of this lyric, which like a lot of Dylan is deceptively simple (if not downright deceptive - it's saying something like, don't worry if the end of the world is coming, because there's a lot more where that came from), a few things came to mind, and I made a few gifs - I like moving illustrations best, and in the first draft I captioned them so it would be clear what they Meant. Then I redid them without captions, because captions look goofy and are best kept for really stupid or crazy ones. But the meaning might (?) be clear according to the three movies cited: Soylent Green ("Soylent Green is people!"), Planet of the Apes ("Get your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape!") and Apocalypse Now ("I love the smell of napalm in the morning. Smells like. . . victory.") Just a few of my dystopic, dysphoric, apocalyptic favorites.




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