Talking About Non-Death

Recently this was posted: Physics of the Fall

and it got me to thinking. My immediate response was a resounding So? but then I started to realize that I too did not understand the non-death at the end of FlightPaths but wasn’t especially curious about the whole thing when I viewed the piece the first time. Now, on the other hand, prompted by the above entry, I’ve decided to give it one more shot. 

There are a couple of peculiarities surrounding the fall. Obviously, the first is how this guy survives, but what actually seemed more interesting to me was the fact that he knows “perfect english”. What? Now. There may be some credibility to this when we consider that this guy was working in Dubai before he compressed himself into the wheel-well of a 757 and that while Arabic might be the official language of the country according to the constitution, English is still spoken widely and taught in schools. So. Even if we assume this guy doesn’t die, it still makes sense that he would know “perfect English” but it is still a bit weird. 

What makes the scene even more surreal is that this woman thru whom we are viewing the scene is behaving normally–thinking, of all things, that if this guy isn’t dead, then they both must be dead because the way reality is going, things aren’t really making any sense. But maybe this tells us something. One one hand, possibly they are both dead; the image remains relatively static, the only changes present in the animation being the angles that the crushed car are shown from, so time seems to have effectively stopped (especially when one considers that there are no sirens or people rushing to help this woman or this man who should be dead). Maybe they’re dead. I don’t know. 

I feel like the other alternative could be (and this doesn’t necessarily negate the whole both of them being dead thing) that this final story is really the illustration of a crossing of histories and trajectories. In this little segment we’re treated to two completely different people, each in servitude to a certain capitalistic ideal, each chained to the system in a particular way. I mean, the clips of her driving to get to the store are arduous and dizzying and for him to have to bus to work an hour in each direction (or was it two?)–that’s just insanity. All for the opportunity. To keep the opportunity. To hold onto the dream. So their lives are similar but wholly different.
It is amazing to her/us that he speaks English (so even when this man does not present himself to be alien he remains as such) and he seems so at home nothing is right with this situation. Well. Obviously he would want food after that flight and cold. And it seems to me like his non-death could also come from his new life somewhere else… his immediate incorporation into the society–the springing up after looking like a crumpled velvet blanket–seems more like reincarnation to me than anything else.

It could be that both of these people cause each other to live just as much as they cause each other to die. Well this is what happens when worlds collide… And that in their mutual destruction and incantation of mutual (and deliberately opposite) ways of life comes something new and other, silent and outside of the rest of the world. I don’t mean some kind of sexual relationship or anything like that–I’m talking about humanism and the gentle accommodation both individuals make for each other (the “trolley” and the “taxi” both need to be caught…)–a place where it doesn’t matter whether they’re dead or not because, well, they don’t really know and neither do we, but their histories continue to influence each other and us and in this process is the process of non-death.

Think about the dead that surround you right now. They lived and died so that you could live. We remember them because, in a way, it affirms our own lives. When we remember ourselves we remember our deaths and the deaths before us. Both individuals have forgotten themselves and become other. We remember them to forget. 

–Josh Barnes


~ by hobodreams on April 17, 2010.

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