~I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.~
Death Be Not Embarrassing
Throughout the logbooks of recorded history, deaths that are just a little bit silly have been jotted down for posterity by observant historians. Take, for example, the ancient Greek stoic philosopher, Chrysippus, who was said to have found the sight of his donkey attempting to eat a fig so knee-slappingly hilarious he collapsed and died in a fit of laughter---or the father of Greek tragedy, Aeschylus who was out walking one day when a tortoise fell from the sky on to his head, killing him instantly. An eagle, who had been hovering above with the tortoise in its mouth, had apparently been looking for something on which to smash his prey and mistook the Greek's bald head for a rock.
Consider too, Béla I of Hungary, who one moment was sitting resplendent on his elaborate throne and the next, dead as a doornail after the throne's canopy collapsed upon him without warning.
An intriguing absurd death was that of Chinese poet Li Po (701-706), who loved to recite his own poems when intoxicated. One night, while sitting in a boat on the Yangtze River he got particularly carried away with the poetic atmosphere and fell into the river and drowned while attempting to embrace the reflection of the moon.
Then there were those who willingly shook off their mortal coil with an absurd flourish, such as George Plantagenent, the Duke of Clarence in 1478, who being fond of a tipple, requested he be executed by drowning in a barrel of Maimsey wine.
According to legend, in an act of incredible (and suicidal) hubris, Greek philosopher Empedocles threw himself into the active volcano Mount Etna in Sicily in order to fool his followers into believing that his body had vanished and that he would return as a god. Alas, one of his sandals survived the tumult of the volcano and it was subsequently discovered by his followers , thus revealing the scam.
Perhaps one of the cruelest and most ignoble deaths in history was that of King Edward II. After his forced abdication in 1327 Edward was held under house arrest at various castles until his wife Isobella, upset at his close 'friendship' with a young man of the Royal Court, arranged secretly for his death. Held down by a mattress, a red-hot poker was pushed into his anus through a drenching-horn...his screams could be heard for miles around.
Of all the wonders that I have yet heard,
It seems to me most strange that men should fear
Seeing that death, a necessary end
Will come when it will come
More recently, there's the sad case of factory worker Robert Williams, who died on the job in a Ford Motor casting plant in 1979 when he was knocked into oblivion by an unfeeling robot arm.
Then in 2010, ELO band member Mike Edward's life was cut tragically short when a bale of hay rolled down a hill and landed on his passing van.
Even more recently the tabloid press took great delight in revealing the story of the
unfortunate medical intern, Jacquelyn Kotarac, who died after being
stuck halfway down a
chimney while attempting to break into her recalcitrant boyfriends
home. The body was discovered only after her bodily fluids began
dripping down the chimney shute. To compound the tragedy, despite
whatever her Earthly
achievements may have amounted to, Kotarac will now forever be
"the woman who died in the chimney"...a case of death without too much dignity.
Death Be Not Inconvenient
Sometimes death can be not only embarrasing but can occur at the most inopportune moments. Take, for example the case of the former President of France, Félix François Faure, who expired most inconveniently in 1899 in delicato flagranto morto (caught with his pants down). The official cause of death was apoplexy, having happened at a critical point while engaging in an intimate encounter with 30-year-old Marguerite Steinhall, in his office.
Atilla the Hun suffered a heart attack while having sex with his wife on their wedding night...(most inconvenient for her).
And it was no doubt incredibly inconvenient for the church that Pope Paul II reputedly suffered a stroke in 1471 while being sodomized by a page boy...although the official version was that his death was brought on by indigestion, following the eating of a melon.
Death Be Not Ironic
An American born in 1877 and a revolutionary in the field of dance, Isadora Duncan found success on the world stage and established her own dance schools in Germany, France and the Soviet Union.
Isadora was not only a revolutionary in the dance world -she was also a radical thinker politically and ahead of her time socially. While she eschewed marriage, she had a penchant for intense affairs and had two children by two different lovers...one a stage designer, the other a millionaire...a scandalous situation for the era.
Yet despite her global achievements in dance and love affairs, hers was a life marked by extreme tragedy. In 1913 her two young children drowned when the car they were sitting in rolled into the Seine; an event that was to alter the mood and tone of her dance toward a more sombre syle.
Regarded as a genius by some, pretentious by others, her trademark was the long flowing scarves she used to wear that would trail behind her as she whooshed past, both on and off the stage. Duncan is often given credit for being 'the mother of modern dance'. Dancing barefoot in a Greek robe, she believed in "listening to the music with your soul" and thus founded a new system of interpretive dance, rejecting the formal conventions of tradtional ballet. It was, at least in spirit, a return to tthe classical Greek idea of the mousike -a coalescence of poetry, music and the rhythms of nature.
Isadora Duncan died in 1927 from a broken neck in Nice, France, when the long scarf she was wearing became entangled in the wheel of a Bugatti sports car. Tragically and ironically, she had been annihilated by the silken threads of her own gossimer trademark.
Death Be Not Stupid
The Darwin Awards, given posthumously, are, according to the blurb on their website, "named to honor Charles Darwin, and commemorate those who improve our gene pool by (accidentally) removing themselves from it". Here's just a few of the winners:
1993: A college student dressed up as Dracula Halloween and decided to make the costume more authentic by stuffing a pine board down his front. Carelessly, he shoved a knife into it to make it appear as though he'd been staked by vampire killers. However, he failed to note the thinness of the pine and when he banged the knife in with a hammer it went straight through the board and deep into his heart. Before dying, he managed to stagger into the party, gasping..."I really did it".
1998: Two experienced construction workers, working on a project 8 storeys high, fell 100 feet to their death after drilling a circular hole through thick concrete. Alas, they had failed to realise they were standing in the middle of the circle. Unfortunately neither man was wearing a safety harness.
2002: A women belonging to an extreme religious group who liked to regularly test their faith by standing amid busy traffic, was taken out by a vehicle on Interstate55 while proletysing to passing motorists. Apparently it was not the first time she had attempted to win converts whilst standing in the middle of the freeway.
2008: A 23 year old man with several body piercings wondered what it would feel like to connect an electronic control tester to his chest piercings. Connecting two alligator clips to his metal nipple piercings - one on each side, he pushed the test button. He could not be revived.
2010: A devon woman climbed the barrier at a seaside cliff in order to chase a feather floating in the air. So determined was she to get that feather she chased it right off the cliff and died of head injuries.
The Grim Reaper
~In the sphere of thought, absurdity and perversity
remain the masters of the world, and their dominion is suspended only
for brief periods.
And of course...
Death Be Not Proud
Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell;
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.
From Beyond the Grave
- From DISCO EVIL: DEAD MAN'S STAND BY ROD MARSDEN
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- GHOST DANCE BY ROD MARSDEN
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