Friday, December 01, 2006

Obituarists

I haven't felt like posting here much recently. The only events which I felt like blogging about were recent deaths of notables like Milton Friedman, but for some reason I hesitated.

I like obituaries though. I know some of the reasons why I do.

  • They are faintly morbid. I like gentle reminders that none of us will be around forever.
  • They allow new information about familiar people to emerge. Sometimes the truth about someone only starts to emerge when they are gone. Who they were related to, or who their enemies were. How they got to be that person in the first place.
  • I like the sense of a person being parcelled up and summarised. Or the vain attempt to do it, at least. It's like dipping into Aubrey's Brief Lives.
  • Very often I only find out about someone, or why they mattered in the grand scheme of things, when they die and their lives are put in context.

I don't like it when you have to read the same boring business about someone again and again - obits have to be fresh and readable, with a bit of new gossip in there.

I don't like pretending that you liked someone after all. I do like finding out that you cared for someone more than you realised. For instance, I'm a bit of a grump about the BBC, but was sorry to hear about Nick Clarke. He seemed a nice gent.

There's a book out for sickos like me who like obituaries. It's an area I'd like to find out more about although I wouldn't want to join the society of obituarists that it apparently talks about.

If I can find a way of blogging about obits which isn't just a rehash of the same material presented elsewhere, I will try to blog about them more in future.

2 Comments:

Blogger Mikeachim said...

I find obituaries interesting in the summary sense. It's interesting to see someone's life in-a-nutshelled over a few paragraphs - enlightening if you don't know anything about them, and frankly terrifying if you do. (Everything you know about them, boiled down to *this*? Is that what happens to us all - and that's if we're lucky?).
I like seeing author obituaries. It means I have more of a chance of catching up with their work.

8:15 PM  
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