Monday, May 3, 2010

Death, Aging and other laughing matters

For no particular reason, I ended up reading Ian Frazier essays this morning. Well, actually, it was sort of a carry-over from some stuff I was reading and thinking about during Poetry Month, April. I'd headed out to the Internet in search of an Ezra Pound essay entitled "The Lyric Impulse/X-ta-see and Po-a-tree." While I couldn't find that essay, I did find a reference to it in one of Frazier's essays ... but that's a digression already.

In a hilarious send-up called Researchers Say, Frazier tells us:
According to a study just released by scientists at Duke University, life is too hard. … As the data accumulated, … they provided incontrovertible proof that life is actually worse than most living things can stand. … A major disadvantage to living which the study called attention to is, of course, death. … Death’s effects on life … are two: First, death intrudes constantly and unpleasantly by putting life a risk at every stage … degrading its quality and compromising happiness. … Second, and far worse, death also constitutes an overwhelmingly no-win experience in itself.

From Lamentations of the Father: Essays by Ian Frazier; essay entitled Researchers Say, pp. 88-89; Picador, New York, copyright 2008.

Moving on from death itself, Frazier reflects on the challenges to quality and enjoyment of life posed by the inevitable processing of aging. And, furthermore, the daily challenges faced in just getting through the day.

Then the essayist reports that solutions – exciting possibilities – are under development daily … although his explanations leave the reader suspecting this could just be 'puffery.' And he cautions, in conclusion, that “…we must not underestimate our adversary, life itself. Uncomfortable even at good moments, difficult and unfair usually, and a complete nightmare much too often, life will stubbornly resist betterment, always finding new ways of being more than we can stand.” pp. 92

Or, as another great contemporary commentator, scriptwriter Robert Towne tells us through one of The Missouri Breaks characters, “Life … it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before.”