Monday, July 30, 2007

Dead. Like Lindow Man.

You have read on this blog already how Lindow Man caused Kid #2 to have her first intimations of mortality. She even insisted on stopping by the British Museum just before we left London so that she could say good-bye to him, and this time not cry. Yet this encounter with a corpse has stuck with her in interesting ways -- most notably, as a new aphorism. Shortly after returning to DC, we were taking a family walk when Kid #2 came across a squashed beetle on the road. "It's dead," she declared, "Dead like Lindow Man." That weekend, as we moved Uncle Paul to the assisted living center, she heard her brother state flatly that the elderly enter the place when they don't have much longer to live. "Yes," Kid #2 agreed. "Soon they will be dead. Dead like Lindow Man." And so on.

I'm afraid she is doomed to be looked upon as a strange child, courtesy of Lindow Man.

8 comments:

Nicola Masciandaro said...

Strange? Perhaps in a way that communicates the wonderful strangeness of life.

There's something so poetic, in so many directions, about making the Lindow Man the index of death. It multiplies death, adding another to each instance. It personalizes death, making it a someone. It befriends death, giving each a companion. It unifies death, making it all one.

Though saying this brings back memories of real perplexity at adults glossing something I said, the perplexity of being interpreted. How the texts must feel!

J J Cohen said...

Nicely put, Nicola. I always admire the poetic phrases that characterize your style, and that in part perform the process youa re writing about.

That childhood sensation of being glossed by an authority is something we face all the time -- but in reverse -- as teachers, esp. via evaluations. I don't even recognize the J J Cohen posted about at ratemyprofessor.com

srj said...

Gravespotting has long been a family addiction - spotting the odd pyramid here, reconstructing the sad family history there, finding ancestors and locating famous names. It is a favourite occupation of our Kid#2 - so much so that she pursues it uninvited and enthusiastically to the consternation of the uninitiated. And thereby hangs an extreme tale - of how our peculiar fascination with the dead as historians is entirely terrifying to others - which cannot be told here for fear of embarrassing the living.

J J Cohen said...

Well, we literary types have also been known to make the living uneasy with our necro-obsessions. But how can I be medievalist without an interest in the dead? And, as you have sen from my recent posts, I've been thinking a lot about the care of the dead specifically.

Liza said...

It could be worse! When I was about a year older than Kid #2 I had a screaming fit at my grandfather's funeral as I watched his casket lowered into the ground. About a week later my mother finally pried out of me that some well-meaning adult had told me my grandpa was not dead, but only sleeping ... not thinking I would put two and two together during the burial and assume he was being buried alive.

Maybe my early fascination with Poe was working through that trauma?

J J Cohen said...

What a powerful story, Liza. And more proof (as if we needed more proof) that children shouldn't be shielded from the sadness of death via palliative metaphors and, well, lies.

bioephemera said...

If I could be sure my children would say things as wonderful as "Dead. Dead like Lindow Man," I might actually consider having children.

J J Cohen said...

There are days when I would let you have her!

Thanks for your comment. I cjhecked out your blog and like it a lot; I just added it to our own blogroll.