14.10.08

Memento Mori

Years ago, I watched a Masterpiece Theatre dramatization of Murial Spark's Memento Mori (a book I later read). In it, a group of old people are terrorized by anonymous phone calls during which the other party only says, "Memento Mori". While at first this is seen to be a threat, eventually one realizes that it's merely a reminder. After all, everyone must die.

I've been thinking about this book, and possibly re-reading it (something I rarely do thanks to the size of Mt. Bookpile). Why? Because I just finished Nothing to Be Frightened Of by Julian Barnes, his memento mori. Unlike Sparks' fiction, Barnes gives us what are almost brief essays, some pertaining to his family, some to his "non-family" family of writers and influences and friends, all in one way or another about death. It's not as morbid as it sounds.

It's also tied into a discussion over on SpareOom about C.S. Lewis' A Grief Observed, a book I first read shortly after the horrific events of September 11. While the discussion has been more about whether or not this was autobiographical writing on Lewis' part (the vote seems to be "thinly veiled fictionalized autobiography"), some of the comments have been about the power of the book to capture the overwhelming grief one feels when a loved one dies. Another book I might just have to re-read soon.

Now, this isn't to say that I'm in a depressive mood, thinking about my death or the death of others! It's more of a confluence of reading and discussion that have made me reflect and memento mori.

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