Sign up FAST! Login

New Yorker Cartoonist Roz Chast’s Remarkable Illustrated Meditation on Aging, Illness, and Death | Brain Pickings


Stashed in: @brainpicker, Aging, Death, Compassion, New Yorker, Forever Alone, Aging, Awesome, life, Life Death Life Death

To save this post, select a stash from drop-down menu or type in a new one:

Making sense of the human journey with wit, wisdom, and disarming vulnerability:

“Each day, we wake slightly altered, and the person we were yesterday is dead,” John Updike wrote in his magnificent memoir. “So why, one could say, be afraid of death, when death comes all the time?” It’s a sentiment somewhat easier to swallow — though certainly not without its ancient challenge — when it comes to our own death, but when that of our loved ones skulks around, it’s invariably devastating and messy, and it catches us painfully unprepared no matter how much time we’ve had to “prepare.”

Count on another beloved New Yorker contributor, cartoonist Roz Chast, to address this delicate and doleful subject with equal parts wit and wisdom in Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant?: A Memoir (public library) — a remarkable illustrated chronicle of her parents’ decline into old age and death, pierced by those profound, strangely uplifting in-between moments of cracking open the little chests of truth we keep latched shut all our lives until a brush with our mortal impermanence rattles the lock and lets out some understanding, however brief and fragmentary, of the great human mystery of what it means to live.

The humor and humility with which Chast tackles the enormously difficult subject of aging, illness and death is nothing short of a work of genius.

...

Chast, like myself, was an only child and her parents, like mine, had a hard time understanding how their daughter made her living given she didn’t run in the 9-to-5 hamster wheel of working for the man. There were also the shared family food issues, the childhood loneliness, the discomfort about money that stems from having grown up without it.

The point here, of course, isn’t to dance to the drum of solipsism. (Though we only children seem particularly attuned to its beat.) It’s to appreciate the elegance and bold vulnerability with which Chast weaves out of her own story a narrative at once so universally human yet so relatable in its kaleidoscope of particularities that any reader is bound to find a piece of him- or herself in it, to laugh and weep with the bittersweet relief of suddenly feeling less alone in the most lonesome-making of human struggles, to find some compassion for even the most tragicomic of our faults.

am i confused...is the tl;dr : old people suck?

No, the tl;dr is that we should not freak out about death because every single one of us dies every day.

Every day we wake up as a different person from the day before. We die every day.

It's in not talking about death that death gains a power over us.

but thinking about it helps, right?

Yes. And talking about it helps even more. 

You May Also Like: