Someone has to sing the pain
Death is something we are born in to. It’s the great inevitability that affects us all. From the arctic polar bears to the citizens of Brighton, UK, death will arrive in some shape or form to conquer us all. Climate change, old age, an accident. We will all eventually reach a conclusion at some point, and what occurs after that conclusion will leave those we know behind.
As we age and grow, we feel we gather an understanding of the repercussions of death and how to deal with that event. This cruel inevitability forced upon us, just like life itself, does not come with instructions. It does not dictate how to proceed when death comes to our door. There are books full of ‘how to guides’ that suggest how to deal with the loss of someone, how to deal with the reconciliation that ‘they live on in your heart’ – but this populist notion doesn’t always apply to every case of grief and loss.
After all, we mourn in different ways. It is not up to the person behind you at the supermarket to recognise that you may be grieving, nor is it the want of the shopkeeper to genuinely want the answer to the question of ‘how are you doing today?’ Media may praise the idea of ‘R U OK?’, but is that even the right way to approach a natural byproduct of death and loss – that cruel beast that is depression.
Don’t touch me
How do you qualify grief? Even, how does one qualify someone else’s grief? Personas are constructed at birth in their own intricate ways, with hidden complexities that allow that vessel we call the human body to exhibit and process grief in their own unique manners. One may write a letter, or a poem. One may write a song or construct a dress. One may even prophetically paint a picture of a windmill that echoes the future.
We may look at someone else and say they grieve incorrectly. We may try and impose our concept of grief management onto someone else, yet who is to say that what works for us, works for them? Although this is true, one thing that does unify us as people is the way that death changes us. It may be a halter on a constructive mind, tightening the fluidity of imagination. It may a uniting force that brings lives together. It may disturb, and warp us in to people who we could never have imagined to be.
Life and death are, conceptually, the same as white and black. First you are alive, and then, just as quick as you were born, you are dead. That isn’t entirely true though, for we are alive before we are born, and yet as we ‘decay’ through life as well get older, we essentially ease into death. The moments in between are the shades of grey – the brighter, whiter grey as we arrive into the world, the dark, eerie grey as we move closer to death. As we look to both the future and the past, the event that is death shifts the context of our life events. Director Andrew Dominik utilises 3D cameras to display these shades of grey in an embracing fashion. We are at once closer with the subjects on screen due to it, and yet at the same time we are distanced from them. It is as if we’re seeing a familiar memory that is not completely our own being displayed through slightly out of focus shades of grey, which are occasionally illuminated further by sharp pincers of light which cut through, blinding us momentarily.
The gravity of death centers us. It acts as an anchor. No matter how much rope is giving to provide a distance between us and its weight, it is always able to pull us back like a siren in the sea. It distorts time and makes the presence, the future and the past, occur at once. It’s a powerful beast that exists in the shadows, waiting to drag us in there with it. Demanding we pay the toll that was prescribed to us at birth.
There is more paradise in hell than we’ve been told
Arthur Cave died in November 2015 in Brighton, UK. The loss of his life is etched in the latest album by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree.
Director: Andrew Dominik
Cast: Nick Cave, Susie Bick, Warren Ellis