Thursday, 24 January 2008

Heath Ledger lives on, or maybe not.

Poor old Heath Ledger.

The vultures are ripping at his carcass already.

Speculations as to the cause of death way before any definitive report is possible. Putting words in the mouths of police officers ( a rolled $20 note that possibly has traces of narcotics is sent to the lab and in media reports becomes a $20 note with traces of narcotics.) Heath quoted out of context about death.

Heath said, talking after the birth of his daughter, "It's like a catch 22. I feel good about dying now because I feel like I'm alive in her. But at the same time, you don't want to die because you want to be around for the rest of her life."

Is Heath doing anything more here than thinking out loud on the new perspective of a parent? And yet the feel good about dying part is quoted in bold as a headline and the counterpoint, "you don't want to die" is buried at the end of the article. Sure, it's a weird way to be thinking after the birth of a child. I myself went the other way, taking less risks because I have responsibilities, children I don't want to grow up fatherless.

But anyhow, I find it really interesting that he can think about how he's alive in her. Is that genetically? Or that empty mushy american sit com comfort, "Lassy will live forever in our hearts?" It reminds me of a conversation I once overhead at the butcher's. The customer was showing off his grandson, who had the same name as him. The butcher remarked on the same name. The customer then explained that he named his son the same as himself. He then made his son promise to name his son with the same name. Then he made his son promise to make his son promise to do the same. And he did that so that his name would live forever. Standing in the butcher waiting to be served, I thought that was a pretty weak sort of immortality. (I hope there's no generation of only daughters - they might not be keen on a name like John Smith)

If we are going to use words like 'lives on' or 'still alive' we need to mean more than memories and lingering affections or genetic material. If that's what we mean then let's just say, we still remember him, she looks like him a bit, he will always be famous, his films will outlast him. But let's not call it life - there has to be more to eternal life than a memory.

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