April 25, 2011

Do I even have to say it?

I'm reading this NYRB essay by Lorrie Moore and I get to this passage:
Barbara dies at fifty-five—the halfway point of the book. Meghan O’Rourke has up until now proceeded with the vitality of a first-rate dramatist and her mother is a character well suited to it, equipped with an irrepressible spirit and a Christmas Day death, on a bed in the middle of the living room (so that death will be less “bureaucratic and fluorescent”), breaking the heart of everyone.
You know, what I'm going to say now, don't you? It's not about death or Christmas or writing style.

60 comments:

Angst said...

Not enough periods?

vbspurs said...

That death is what is visited upon the face of everyone under fluorescent light?

Brian said...

I think it's the "flourescent" remark? What happened to "incandescent?"

vbspurs said...

(Recommend Lorrie Moore's book, A Gate at the Stairs, BTW)

Henry said...

Is the corpse a man wearing shorts?

Coketown said...

High-five for outliving Barbara by five years?

MadisonMan said...

Were you incandescent with rage on reading that review?

gerry said...

What happened to "incandescent?"


It wasn't a cremation.

prairie wind said...

That soon, even moving the bed to the living room won't be enough to avoid fluorescence?

wv: nasted...those nasted fluorescent lights

Salamandyr said...

I don't know if anyone else has had similar experience but these supposedly long lasting CFL bulbs have been regularly blowing out, much more often than handful of incandescents that are still holding up.

Quayle said...

If it's vogue to have a more natural and un-fluorescent death, why is it also vogue to ban incandescent bulbs and bath us all in fouressence?

k said...

Yes, Salamandyr - I have noticed my CFL floodlights (can lights) burning out regularly. I am now replacing them, in turn, with incandescents and keeping a spreadsheet so I know which ones are the problem, and which ones are hanging in there.

bandmeeting said...

My grandfather died on Christmas and my father on Thanksgiving. I lived through yesterday. Yay.

MayBee said...

That death is what is visited upon the face of everyone under fluorescent light?

Ha!

prairie wind said...

Oh, bandmeeting. I'm so sorry. That's a lot to stand up to. Recovery takes time. I wish you well.

edutcher said...

Having Mom's irrepressible spirit repressed under the mistletoe is incredibly selfish?

(this always seems to come up discussing the Gray Lady)

Either that or death is somehow less "bureaucratic" (whatever that means) if everybody shares it.

PS That her beauty is compared to... Ali MacGraw?

Hagar said...

Why do ypou read periodicals with "New York" in the title?

Why not go outside to get some fresh air and help Meade clear the back yard?

Henry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ann Althouse said...

In the future, we'll all be stuck with fluorescent lighting, and relocating at home will not get us away from it. The bureaucratic look will be everywhere.

Henry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ann Althouse said...

"Not enough periods?"

Barbara was 55. She wouldn't be having any more periods even if she'd lived.

Rumpletweezer said...

But I want my death to be "dazzling." Doesn't everyone?

Henry said...

Depersonalized death. Now in take-out.

(Sorry for the multiple deletions. Google and Blogger should not be conjoined.)

Original Mike said...

There will be a flourishing black market in incandescents. Prohibition never works.

traditionalguy said...

Hell must be flourescent lit...no sun and no Son to give us a bright white and warm colors.

Original Mike said...

"But I want my death to be "dazzling." Doesn't everyone?"

Literally could not care less. I won't be around to enjoy it.

Pogo said...

"Not enough periods?"
Barbara was 55.
"

Heh.

Though, unfortunately, not quite true.

For some, the endometrium merely slumbers.

Pogo said...

I want my death to be "bedazzling".

Coketown said...

In the future, we'll all be stuck with fluorescent lighting, and relocating at home will not get us away from it.

Au contraire! Just wheel the bed to the front lawn and die in the sunshine. What could be less bureaucratic than giving up the ghost in front of the neighbors? It's so proletarian.

Pogo said...

@ Coketown

My neighbors would probably bring forks.

Coketown said...

@Poho: Pitch or carving?

Pogo said...

Plastic.
They're cheap that way.

chuck said...

A bright life should have an incandescent ending.

traditionalguy said...

If You are in a hospital flat on your back, then you are staring into fluorescent lights, and you may never see any others unless the Doctors bring you back and send you home.

EDH said...

Does this mean there are now three certainties in life?

Death. Taxes. Fluorescent Lighting.

m stone said...

equipped with an irrepressible spirit

Can we talk about writing style now?

Someone would have killed the woman at 35.

kimsch said...

I just had to replace three lightbulbs. One incandescent and two fluorescent bulbs with incandescent.

Andrew said...

There was no red-tailed hawk picking at the body?

Megaera said...

One doesn't think about it much, but the tendency is for people to die indoors -- not necessarily after dark, mind you, but inside a structure -- and unless you're in a pavilion, that generally requires lighting fixtures. And, at least based on a fast read of "famous last words"-type lists (okay, so I have slightly macabre reading habits) the tendency of the dying is to ask for an increased, not lessened, illumination: "Light! More Light!" (Goethe); "Turn up the lights. I don't want to go home in the dark." (O. Henry). Personal experience, admittedly limited, supports this. So flourescent, incandescent, nasty blue-grey LED, choose your poison, gonna have to be something even if you're a romantic and into beeswax candles or oil lamps. (Know how much HEAT those little dudes put out in a small room? Give it some thought, and maybe a dry run, before you seriously plan on either of the latter expedients, just sayin'.)

Megaera said...

Sorry, make that 'fluorescent', not flourescent ... slip of the fingers.

Chip Ahoy said...

I find your lack of faith in the future of lighting disturbing.

Fred Drinkwater said...

k writes:
I am now replacing them, in turn, with incandescents and keeping a spreadsheet so I know which ones are the problem, and which ones are hanging in there.
***

Good God. A spreadsheet. k, I will blame YOU if this somehow becomes, say, a line item on Form 1040.

My house is cluttered with paper. Not books, all (well, most) of whom are living peacefully on shelves when not in actual use, but bureaucratic clutter. Every bill or official communication from the friendly Gov. seems to have an ever growing addendum of disclaimers, privacy notices, demands for corrections, updates, downgrades, public service notices, tracking data, or payment options.

Every bloody agency on the planet is behaving like a US High School teacher: Oh, I can add this little extra bit of work and it will have too small an effect to be noticed.

My father was an aviation safety expert. He concluded that many incremental safety systems in cockpits ultimately resulted in overall system breakdown, due to, basically, mental clutter.

Grr. Argh.

(rant ends here)

WV: heatuale - if you heat MY ale ima gonna MESS YOU UP.

ricpic said...

To the extent that we all end up as a statistic we all die a bureaucratic death.

Hey, I just made a William (comment).

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bandmeeting said...

Hey Prairie Wind--

Neither of them died this year, grandfather loooong time ago father a few years back. Sorry if it sounded is if they were recent. Still, I gotta worry about those holidays.

prairie wind said...

Take your vitamins, bandmeeting. Memorial Day is coming. :-)

AST said...

"... equipped ... with a Christmas day death..."? I see your point about the potential ambiguity, but I don't really see anybody misunderstanding that. Do you?

Stylistically, it's awful. how does "equipped with" fit "death?"

BTW, Brian, incandescent is not green. Fluorescent is the new incandescent. But the real point is that th phrase is referring to dying in a hospital as opposed to her home, Nearly all hospitals are bureaucratic and use fluorescent lighting.

Still, you have to wonder why she doesn't use curly bulbs at home, and have in home nursing services paid for by Government health care, don't you?

E.M. Davis said...

In the future, we'll all be stuck with fluorescent lighting, and relocating at home will not get us away from it. The bureaucratic look will be everywhere.


Two words: Black market.

E.M. Davis said...

Two other words: Stock up.

BEK477 said...

Ann,
I think that I will opt for either candles or scented oil lamps or death out of doors.

If I have to use lights other than from incandescent bulbs then I choose the LED lights. So au courant and typically CalIFORNIAN.

David said...

What we are are trying to create: a Christmas the children will never forget.

David said...

If the CFL's burn out too soon, I'm going to use whale oil.

kimsch said...

My dad didn't want to die at home, he wanted the hospital. Mom wanted the hospital for him too. Hospitals are set up to deal with death.

Too many bad memories if it was in the house. She sold the house soon after anyway and got a condo in an over 55 community (6 packs and 4 packs, one story rows) instead so she wouldn't have to deal with outside maintenance.

wv: avatop

Deb said...

"Barbara was 55. She wouldn't be having any more periods even if she'd lived."

Not so sure. My aunt was going strong at 55.

p.s. my mother died on New Years Day.

wv: morbi. Damn spooky sometimes.

Mark said...

In the future, we'll all be stuck with fluorescent lighting, and relocating at home will not get us away from it. The bureaucratic look will be everywhere.

I'm switching to halogens.

vbspurs said...

My grandfather died on Christmas and my father on Thanksgiving. I lived through yesterday. Yay.

Funniest thing I've read on Althouse in years, Bandmeeting. Not about the demises of your relatives, but your comedic timing.

bandmeeting said...

Not about the demises of your relatives, but your comedic timing.

You've heard the line, "The joke wrote itself," no doubt. It did.

When my grandfather died on Christmas at the age of 99 years and 9 months it really was weird. Just something about having a close relative die on that day. My dad went through a really prolonged illness and when he died on Turkey day it was like, "what is going on here, do I need to be frightened of holidays? Am I supposed to hate the fourth of July?

vbspurs said...

Am I supposed to hate the fourth of July?

Just stay home, and read Althouse on that day! We can't have you go missing when there's incandenscent bulbs to be bought.

(P.S.: All kidding aside, my deepest condolences on your bereavements. What a sad past year you must've had)

bandmeeting said...

Hey Vspurs-

Sorry you didn't see it but I wrote earlier to Prairie Wind that I wasn't very clear about the fact that neither death was this year.

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