Wednesday, 18 September 2019

thanatopsis

The always excellent podcast Hidden Brain boldly tackles a subject that is usually avoided or talked around in polite company if not suppressed to the point of being a social taboo: death.
Approaching the topic via the broad and non-empirical idea that fear of death drives every decision we make and informs and limits our agency with some evidence-based psychological experiments, we see that although we think we are avoiding the matter of our own mortality and legacy in not articulating it, we’re always practising terror management in one form or another, and couched as we all are in the comforts of convention, we remain unaware of these instigations until confronted with its unforgiving finality. Necessary and human as the anxiety is, we cede more power to a nebulous and unnamed fear that serves to reinforce the judgments and opinions it covertly influences. Ibidem the same source as above, we are treated to another podcast—from Vox magazine—that correlates well with the theme of memento mori but this time musically. Four close and dark notes from a Gregorian mass intoned at funerals—Dies Iræ, Reckoning, the Day of Wrath—still resounds and is hiding everywhere in popular culture. The same tones cue us (perhaps steel us) to something grim approaching and is sampled in scores of film and television soundscapes. Cultural hegemony being what it is, I wonder how universal these impulses and signifiers are.