Memento mori

From The Washington Post:

Barnes If you’re clever enough, or hire the right accountants and financial wizards, you can actually dodge paying taxes. The big boys do it all the time. But death — that’s quite another matter. Pace cryonics, there’s no way of putting off forever what the philosopher Fontenelle — who lived to be 99 — called that “last unpleasant quarter hour.” Sooner or later, all of us are going to close up shop. As Philip Larkin said in his mortality-haunted poem “Aubade,” “Most things may never happen: this one will.”

Now in his early 60s, the novelist Julian Barnes tells us that he thinks about death every day, and periodically finds himself bolting upright from sleep screaming, “No, no, no.” (Ah, yes: Been there, done that.) As its brilliant title punningly hints, Nothing to Be Frightened Of offers an extended meditation on human mortality, but one that is neither clinical nor falsely consoling. Instead, the witty and melancholy author of Flaubert’s Parrot and Arthur & George simply converses with us about our most universal fear:

“For me, death is the one appalling fact which defines life; unless you are constantly aware of it, you cannot begin to understand what life is about; unless you know and feel that the days of wine and roses are limited, that the wine will madeirize and the roses turn brown in their stinking water before all are thrown out for ever — including the jug — there is no context to such pleasures and interests as come your way on the road to the grave. But then I would say that, wouldn’t I?”

More here.