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Corporeal Disposition

 
 
Khethil
 
Reply Mon 6 Oct, 2008 06:41 am
I'm wondering how others feel about this. When I express how I feel on this issue, I often get strange looks and odd reactions. So I'm wondering how what other's take is: [INDENT] When the body dies, the idea of pumping it full of chemicals, dressing it up nicely and placing it in an expensive container on a plot of land strikes me as grossly egotistical, wasteful and just flat-out absurd. The bio-matter in my body came from this earth, it should be allowed to freely return in the manner in which nature's always done. Assuming that one doesn't want to pass their remains on to the betterment of science or donation, one should be placed naked in a grave and left alone - no strings attached.
[/INDENT]I acknowledge the desire of the living to "say goodbye" to the deceased. But death of the body has been perverted by ego; a sick need to make the corpse appear sanitary, serene and spiffed-up. In this way, we've perverted perceptions on the nature of death to suit our "disconnected from nature", "above the natural" mindset (a mindset that I see as destructive and self-defeating). Death is just as much a part of our life-cycle as birth and there is real utility in striving to keep connected to life's natural cycle.

Am I alone in this?

Thanks in advance


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urangutan
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Oct, 2008 07:02 am
@Khethil,
Write it into your will. No mummification allowed, I am going to. I also want to smell up the gathering at the wake, kind of like a big scurredge in parting. Dutch oven under the sheets.

I have also thought of some artistic ways to dispose of the body. One was to heave it out of a train that is passing another train, hoping that the body is suspended long enough to kind of graffitti along each train, half each way type of thing. I wondered if it would be better naked or dressed. I think dressed as the body would hold together for a little longer but the clothing also may catch and ruin the whole thing. So I am still unsure of the best method for it.
jgweed
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Oct, 2008 07:33 am
@urangutan,
Outside of the notable examples of ancient Egypt and some Christian sects (and Jeremy Bentham), the majority of mankind has opted for either simple burial or for incineration in some form as a befitting disposal.
You are hardly alone.
0 Replies
 
Justin
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Oct, 2008 10:40 am
@Khethil,
Not alone at all. There are still many convinced that they are their body. The dressing up the corps and putting worldly possessions in the casket and spending all the money is no different than what we do as we are alive.

The living corps or the walking dead dress up their body, cloth it, spend money on appearance and jewelry. While they may be alive figuratively speaking, they are only walking dead. Their identity is in their body and they think they actually are their body and many believe that when the body is dead the man is dead.

I feel that if we are so attached to our body and experiences of this physical world, we are further detached from our mind, which is who we are. Therefore if we live for the body or ego, we are not living at all. So as we get up in the morning and dress ourselves up, there's a good chance that many of us are dressing a corpse anyway.

So, for the general population this all means something. It's important that the dead body look good and everyone says their goodbyes to the MAN or WOMAN that they remember... the man and or woman that they believe they were.. (past tense) and are no longer.

For me, I'll donate my organs to someone who can use them. The rest of me they can cast off the boat or bury me in the dirt on the golf course. Heck they could grind my body up and feed it to the pigs for all I care. This body is very temporary and there is a new body awaiting my next journey.

Oh, and I don't do funerals. I'll pay my respect to spirit or mind of the person while they are present. Paying respect to the body is nothing more than a show for those 'walking corpses' present at the funeral.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Oct, 2008 01:02 pm
@Justin,
Who remarked that 'Funerals are for the living'? I'm almost certain I've phrased it all wrong (sounds too much like Jefferson's "The earth is for the living"), but that's the general sentiment.
TickTockMan
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Oct, 2008 01:39 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
an interesting funerary practice: Witness to a Tibetan Sky Burial

I always tell people that I want to have an open casket funeral, with my body preserved and posed in such a way as though it looks like I wasn't dead when they shut the lid . . . eyes open in horror, mouth frozen in a scream, clawing fingers poised upward, perhaps with bits of the casket lining under my fingernails. That'd keep 'em talking for weeks.

In reality, I don't really care what happens to my body. I'll be dead. But if I had a choice, I'd have to say vulture food.

Does anybody here remember "Soylent Green"?
nameless
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Oct, 2008 02:05 pm
@TickTockMan,
TickTockMan;26829 wrote:
Does anybody here remember "Soylent Green"?

Yeah, it's what the Republikkkans are calling the Democrats! *__-

Just wondering, o Enthusiastic Poltroon, isn't there a proportional relationship between 'enthusiasm' and 'depth of poltroonism'? The > the poltroonism the > the enthusiasm? *__-
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Oct, 2008 02:07 pm
@TickTockMan,
TickTockMan wrote:
Does anybody here remember "Soylent Green"?


Yea, and I had some pretty rough nightmares after seeing this as a young tyke. Immensely practical idea, to be sure.
0 Replies
 
TickTockMan
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Oct, 2008 02:24 pm
@nameless,
nameless;26832 wrote:

Just wondering, o Enthusiastic Poltroon, isn't there a proportional relationship between 'enthusiasm' and 'depth of poltroonism'? The > the poltroonism the > the enthusiasm? *__-


And vice-versa. It's very perplexing at times. The doctors are, frankly, baffled.
0 Replies
 
Deftil
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Oct, 2008 07:58 pm
@Khethil,
Hi Khethil. I always enjoy your posts.

Khethil;26788 wrote:
I'm wondering how others feel about this. When I express how I feel on this issue, I often get strange looks and odd reactions. So I'm wondering how what other's take is: [INDENT] When the body dies, the idea of pumping it full of chemicals, dressing it up nicely and placing it in an expensive container on a plot of land strikes me as grossly egotistical, wasteful and just flat-out absurd. The bio-matter in my body came from this earth, it should be allowed to freely return in the manner in which nature's always done. Assuming that one doesn't want to pass their remains on to the betterment of science or donation, one should be placed naked in a grave and left alone - no strings attached.
[/INDENT]I acknowledge the desire of the living to "say goodbye" to the deceased. But death of the body has been perverted by ego; a sick need to make the corpse appear sanitary, serene and spiffed-up. In this way, we've perverted perceptions on the nature of death to suit our "disconnected from nature", "above the natural" mindset (a mindset that I see as destructive and self-defeating). Death is just as much a part of our life-cycle as birth and there is real utility in striving to keep connected to life's natural cycle.

Am I alone in this?

Thanks in advance

If you acknowledge the desire of the living to say goodbye, then why do you seem to pass over the valuable emotional utilily that these practices have for the living?

So you don't seem to care what happens to your body after you're dead; great, but what if being embalmed, dressed up, put into a nice coffin, and being given a "proper" burial is what would make those that you've left behind feel better, and more able to move on with their lives after it's done? Well, in my experience this seems to be the case. As Didymos noted "funerals are for the living". Do you begrudge them this point? Will you insist in your will that you not be given a "proper" burial in spite of the emotional impact this may have on your loved ones?

My theory is, "I'll be dead, I'll no longer have use of my body, so do with it whatever makes you, my living loved ones, feel best." If that includes going through all the motions of having a funeral, then so be it.

I also think that going through a lot of trouble to bury somebody can be seen as the biggest showing of respect a person can be given. Talk about non-reciprocal altruism... you're taking great care to treat someone's body with the utmost respect in spite of the fact that there is (apparently) no way they can ever repay you, or even know about it for that matter. (beliefs in an afterlife aside, obviously) As creatures whose important relationships are characterized by altruism, such an act of altruism that can't be reciprocated is about as honorable of an act as one can perform. "I'm doing this for you and your memory even though I know full well that you are unable to repay me for it."

I assume we all want the memory of ourselves to be respected once we pass away, but memories aren't tangible. Our bodies are, and are the only physical thing left of us once we die. If those that are still living want to publicly and physically show their respect for me and the memory of me once I've died with a proper burial of my corpreal remains, then I would be honored that they do so, even though I do not personally see it as necessary. Regardless or your beliefs on dualism, I think most humans do associate other human's bodies with them as people. It's more than "just a shell", but the image of how you will always remember that person in your mind, so I think it makes sense to want to treat the bodies of the dead with respect, even if to a degree it is only symbolically. If it makes people feel better to feel like they are honoring your memory by honoring your body, then I see little problem with this practice. A problem that can arise however, is when an exorbitant amount of money is spent on the process that becomes prohibitive to the needs of the living. Then, I do think that things can get a little ridiculous, and unfortunately often do, for reasons that I assume often have to do with capitalism, but also with the expenses associated with the sanitary handling and treatment of corpses.

All this being said, I can see how someone wanting their own corporeal remains to be treated in such a way, for their own personal reasons, can be seen as being egotistical, but as is indicated by the responses in this thread, most people don't care that much what happens to their body once their dead, and all the funeral proceedings really do turn out to be more for the living than for the dead.
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 Oct, 2008 07:03 am
@Deftil,
Wow, excellent response. I enjoy these polite, yet prodding exchanges.

Deftil wrote:
Hi Khethil. I always enjoy your posts.


Thank you, likewise Smile

Deftil wrote:
If you acknowledge the desire of the living to say goodbye, then why do you seem to pass over the valuable emotional utilily that these practices have for the living?


An excellent point! I don't see funeral/burial practices as completely void of emotional utility. My take on that is this: While embalming, prepping (pretty-ing) and waving goodbye to the visible body does give some sense of closure. In my opinion, the good that these give can't equal the damage it does (in terms of (1) the warped sense of the process of death (hard to quantify), (2) waste of resources (very quantifiable), (3) not allowing the decomposition process to proceed in a direct/natural way (admittedly whimsical, don't shoot me!) and (4) the irksome result of feeding a bloated and grossly overpriced industry. I accept that many of us feel this is all worth it; and that's fine. It just rubs me wrong Smile

Deftil wrote:
So you don't seem to care what happens to your body after you're dead...


Sidenote: Although I didn't really delineat this. I do care. My desires are to: First have all donatable organs distributed; Secondly, donate what remains to any resource repositories in need of human tissue -and- Finally, toss what's left in a hole somewhere. Not that this has any real bearing on what you've brought up (but I do so like expressing those decisions I'm proud of <beam>)

Deftil wrote:
... great, but what if being embalmed, dressed up, put into a nice coffin, and being given a "proper" burial is what would make those that you've left behind feel better, and more able to move on with their lives after it's done? Well, in my experience this seems to be the case. As Didymos noted "funerals are for the living". Do you begrudge them this point? Will you insist in your will that you not be given a "proper" burial in spite of the emotional impact this may have on your loved ones?


All good points:

  • Conceded: Yes I agree such rituals do help the living (see above); but again, I don't think what's gained is worth the payoff and loss in other areas.[1]


  • Naw, I don't begrudge folks for wanting this. At the risk of being holier-than-thou, I believe that if we were more enlightened, practical and closer to the nature of moral human existence, we'd place more value in the practical aspects.[2]


  • Regarding the Emotional Impact of my "Practical" Solution: Is it better we dress up and pretty the process or perhaps could it be that it's better - emotionally - that we accept death for what it is? [3] While I've conceded there is emotional benefit in these rituals, who's to say that once we've shed these practices; emotionally, we wouldn't be better off. I can't immediately quantify this, but I think it deserves pondering.

Deftil wrote:
I also think that going through a lot of trouble to bury somebody can be seen as the biggest showing of respect a person can be given. Talk about non-reciprocal altruism...


Altrustic to give to a dead person? That's not them... it's a body. [INDENT]Now if one believes the Spirit and Body are separate, it's likely that spirit has "moved on" - so we're not giving to the deceased.
[/INDENT][INDENT]If, on the other hand, we believe the consciousness is contained within the body's tissue then that consciousness (that "person") is also no longer functioning in that body; in which case, again we're not "giving" to the person.
[/INDENT]I'm not sure the idea that burial rituals = altrustic-giving stands to reason regardless of metaphysical/theological view[4]. Is it altruistic to give to a side of beef, broken bicycle or chuck of concrete?

Deftil wrote:
"I'm doing this for you and your memory even though I know full well that you are unable to repay me for it."


Although I reject the idea that burial = altruism to the dead. I agree on the subtle benefit this sentiment. That comes from a good place and a giving heart (regardless of the brutal reality of the situation).

Deftil wrote:
Regardless or your beliefs on dualism, I think most humans do associate other human's bodies with them as people. It's more than "just a shell", but the image of how you will always remember that person in your mind, so I think it makes sense to want to treat the bodies of the dead with respect, even if to a degree it is only symbolically.


Nice point. I don't think it mitigates or dismisses anything I've said, but I like it. And if I can play my own devil's advocate (just cuz I'm flaky like that), one might even posit that showing respect to a perceived person helps has the collateral benefit of shoring-up respect for those living. Nice twist


Deftil wrote:
... when an exorbitant amount of money is spent on the process that becomes prohibitive to the needs of the living. Then, I do think that things can get a little ridiculous, and unfortunately often do, for reasons that I assume often have to do with capitalism...


Yep, definately with you there. Within a culture whose god-in-practice is the almighty buck (read: Capitalism Run Amuck) we'll sell anything, make a profit off anyone and insert enough levels of middlemen to make even the most greedy go cross-eyed. Yep, we'll even sell you your corpse back! Ugh... so embarassing... may I go sit in the corner now?

Deftil wrote:
... most people don't care that much what happens to their body once their dead, and all the funeral proceedings really do turn out to be more for the living than for the dead.


Yea, true enough. Based on my perspective, my values and that which I see as best I say: It's not worth it! If I step back a bit and acknowledge benefits I can understand - but don't agree with, I say: Feeling good is good enough; if that makes you happy and helps you deal with this pain then by all means, proceed with my blessing.

Thanks again for a well-considered and coherent response!




---------
[1] Much of this is not quantifiable, some of it is emotionally-based. Despite this, I think there's enough rational support to give it consideration. Not all things of worth can be measured, tabulated and placed in Bill's Logic Table or Sally's Spreadsheet
[2] This is part-and-parcel to a basic flaw lying at the foundation of many of humanity's problem: That we're somehow above - not an integral part - of this planet. The instant we put ourselves "above" the previous symbiotic view of "nature" - in that moment - we set ourselves on a very bad path. Although just a correlary point to the issue of burial, one can hopefully see the connection, and perhaps utility in that symbiosis, of "returning" to the soil.
[3] I'm not advocating we let folks die in place; rot on their sofas or toss them out on the street. Let's not take my suggestion to absurd levels (not to mention levels that put the public health at risk).
[4] ... although it wouldn't surprise me an iota if there were views out there could support this.
John W Kelly
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 Oct, 2008 04:40 pm
@Deftil,
Diogenes (Greek philosopher) said that after he dies, "just throw my body outside the city walls." Some people warned him that wild animals would surely devour his carcuss. "Then give me a stick to beat them back with!" I guess what happens to the dead, in many ways, is for the satisfaction of the living.
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Oct, 2008 05:18 am
@John W Kelly,
As a side note on this issue.

Coincidentally, the other night I saw a Discovery Channel show on this the other night and although there was much to be gleaned, these tidbits stood out to me as worthy of being passed on:

  • In the U.S., there are over 23,000 funeral homes competing for your corpse
  • In the U.S., the average funeral costs about $ 7,000.00
  • In cremation, the corpse is fried at just over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Once it's done, bones must be further ground in a blender-like device that produces the fine powder
  • Cremated remains (the powder) is now often used in an electrostatic process to make jewelry (simulated gemstones)
  • A primary concern to funeral-home customers is 'how long will that casket last?" - people seem to want caskets that last longer and longer.
  • After death, eye sockets tend to "sink"; therefore, in open-casket arrangements clear, barbed, plastic "eyelids" are inserted. The dome-shape keeps the eyelid shape while the barbs catch the inside of the eyelids and keep them closed

Thanks
Zetherin
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Oct, 2008 10:27 am
@Khethil,
I think Deftil brings up a great point here: We must consider our loved ones. While we may all have differing views on how our body should be disposed of (I personally agree with Justin in this respect and feel it's silly to do any of the funeral business), I think we have to put our points of view to the sides and consider others. If it helps one have a smoother grieving process going through the motions of a normal societal funeral, why not? It matters not to me where this shell goes after my death, and so because of that very reason, I'd rather it be disposed of in whichever way my loved ones that are still alive would want.

But Justin, I did want to point something out that we may disagree on. It appears you feel that the attachment to materialization is where our ego rears it's evil head, and this is ultimately where one is detached from who they really are, their mind. Well, it's not that I disagree with that directly, however, I think you may not be considering that no one can transcend their ego. Sure, some make their ego more apparent and excessive, but it doesn't mean we are 'ego-free' having focused on intellectual discussion. I think it's important to realize that the attachment to the material world and one's bodily remains may coincide with an egotistical light, but it is not the total extent from which egotism rises. It seems to me that saying many 'dress their corpse' every morning is a bit egotistical, no?

Likewise, even if I make a solid point in my post, I can still smell the egotism coming from my own breathe Smile
0 Replies
 
Deftil
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Oct, 2008 11:41 am
@Khethil,
Khethil;26919 wrote:
An excellent point! I don't see funeral/burial practices as completely void of emotional utility. My take on that is this: While embalming, prepping (pretty-ing) and waving goodbye to the visible body does give some sense of closure. In my opinion, the good that these give can't equal the damage it does (in terms of (1) the warped sense of the process of death (hard to quantify), (2) waste of resources (very quantifiable), (3) not allowing the decomposition process to proceed in a direct/natural way (admittedly whimsical, don't shoot me!) and (4) the irksome result of feeding a bloated and grossly overpriced industry. I accept that many of us feel this is all worth it; and that's fine. It just rubs me wrong Smile

I do see what you are saying. But still, the death of a loved one can be so difficult to deal with, anything that helps is worth a considerable amount. I am curious how profitable the industry is. Are they really making a killing? (pun totally intended) If so, that seems rotten and unethical, but short of making the industry part of some sort of government controlled monopoly, I don't see what else can be done. Just try to convince people to choose less fancy funerals?

Khethil;26919 wrote:
Sidenote: Although I didn't really delineat this. I do care. My desires are to: First have all donatable organs distributed; Secondly, donate what remains to any resource repositories in need of human tissue -and- Finally, toss what's left in a hole somewhere. Not that this has any real bearing on what you've brought up (but I do so like expressing those decisions I'm proud of <beam>)

I want to be shot out of a super-cannon into outer space, personally. I have my doubts if I'll be able to make it happen.


Khethil;26919 wrote:
All good points:
  • Conceded: Yes I agree such rituals do help the living (see above); but again, I don't think what's gained is worth the payoff and loss in other areas.[1]

  • Naw, I don't begrudge folks for wanting this. At the risk of being holier-than-thou, I believe that if we were more enlightened, practical and closer to the nature of moral human existence, we'd place more value in the practical aspects.[2]

  • Regarding the Emotional Impact of my "Practical" Solution: Is it better we dress up and pretty the process or perhaps could it be that it's better - emotionally - that we accept death for what it is? [3] While I've conceded there is emotional benefit in these rituals, who's to say that once we've shed these practices; emotionally, we wouldn't be better off. I can't immediately quantify this, but I think it deserves pondering.

I tend to think practically like you honestly.

I'm not sure if the current practices in place really interfere with acceptance of death for what it is. Well for one thing, not everybody agrees exactly with what death is - an end, a beginning, both, neither? I don't feel it's for us to say how people need to accept death. I see your point about the possibility of us being better off once we've shed these practices, but I also think that TO SOME DEGREE these practices are a healthy part of showing respect to the memory of the dead.

Khethil;26919 wrote:
Altrustic to give to a dead person? That's not them... it's a body. [INDENT]Now if one believes the Spirit and Body are separate, it's likely that spirit has "moved on" - so we're not giving to the deceased.
[/INDENT][INDENT]If, on the other hand, we believe the consciousness is contained within the body's tissue then that consciousness (that "person") is also no longer functioning in that body; in which case, again we're not "giving" to the person.
[/INDENT]I'm not sure the idea that burial rituals = altrustic-giving stands to reason regardless of metaphysical/theological view[4]. Is it altruistic to give to a side of beef, broken bicycle or chuck of concrete?

Although I reject the idea that burial = altruism to the dead. I agree on the subtle benefit this sentiment. That comes from a good place and a giving heart (regardless of the brutal reality of the situation).

I have to say I'm a little appalled that you don't think altruism to a side of beef is warranted but I'm willing to look past that for the sake of discussion. The act of altruism to the dead, like the funeral, isn't really for the deceased, but the living. (in my view anyway) It's a way for us to feel like good, respectul people. It's a way for us to show others how much we care about our loved ones.

Khethil;26919 wrote:
Nice point. I don't think it mitigates or dismisses anything I've said, but I like it. And if I can play my own devil's advocate (just cuz I'm flaky like that), one might even posit that showing respect to a perceived person helps has the collateral benefit of shoring-up respect for those living. Nice twist

I'm not positive I'm getting what you're saying here but it sounds like you it might tie in to what I just said above.

Khethil;26919 wrote:
Yep, definately with you there. Within a culture whose god-in-practice is the almighty buck (read: Capitalism Run Amuck) we'll sell anything, make a profit off anyone and insert enough levels of middlemen to make even the most greedy go cross-eyed. Yep, we'll even sell you your corpse back! Ugh... so embarassing... may I go sit in the corner now?

Yea, it stinks, but again, to be fair, we need to look at much money people in that business are raking in. I really don't know how well they do, and even then, if people are willing to pay all that money for funerals, can you really blame people for providing that service?

Khethil;26919 wrote:
Yea, true enough. Based on my perspective, my values and that which I see as best I say: It's not worth it! If I step back a bit and acknowledge benefits I can understand - but don't agree with, I say: Feeling good is good enough; if that makes you happy and helps you deal with this pain then by all means, proceed with my blessing.

Thanks again for a well-considered and coherent response!

Yea, people should do what makes them feel better; like I said, dealing with the death of a loved one is obviously hard. I am with you on the idea that we should consider being at least a bit more practical about these things.

John W. Kelly wrote:
Diogenes (Greek philosopher) said that after he dies, "just throw my body outside the city walls." Some people warned him that wild animals would surely devour his carcuss. "Then give me a stick to beat them back with!" I guess what happens to the dead, in many ways, is for the satisfaction of the living.

I love Diogenes! ... at least I get a kick out of hearing stories about him. He was such a rebel!

Khethil wrote:
In the U.S., the average funeral costs about $ 7,000.00

I briefly was looking up info on that myself and was seeing $6000+ for the average funeral. But that is an average, and I wonder what the reasonable minimum is for services.

Khethil wrote:
After death, eye sockets tend to "sink"; therefore, in open-casket arrangements clear, barbed, plastic "eyelids" are inserted. The dome-shape keeps the eyelid shape while the barbs catch the inside of the eyelids and keep them closed

Yep... that's officially creepy.
Zetherin
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Oct, 2008 12:24 pm
@Deftil,
Deftil wrote:
I have to say I'm a little appalled that you don't think altruism to a side of beef is warranted but I'm willing to look past that for the sake of discussion. The act of altruism to the dead, like the funeral, isn't really for the deceased, but the living. (in my view anyway) It's a way for us to feel like good, respectul people. It's a way for us to show others how much we care about our loved ones.


You've touched upon something here...
In feeling good and showing others we are respectful people, we see our egotistical nature, no? Maybe in all we see as altruistic, there is a hand of egotism guiding? This is not to say the altruistic act is of any less value, but it is to say we cannot transcend egotism completely.

"What you feel doesn't matter. Anyone can say they love someone - it's the things you do to the people you say you love that matters"

Perhaps I'm veering off the main discussion a bit, but I do think this is worth considering.
0 Replies
 
 

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