Quality and Research VI

art, recent work, teaching

“Is there a method to die?”

How could this question make sense? For all we know, death will happen to everybody alive; it’s the one condition we all share. There’s no method not to die.

This makes clear that the essential word here isn’t ‘death’ – it’s ‘method’. The common-sense understanding of this word might be something like: ‘a set-up of presumptions and techniques used systematically to arrive at a certain result’. Now, if the result – in this case, physical death – is certain, no matter what, the question may still seem absurd. But stay with it a while…

The Greek origin of the word ‘method’ means ‘way’. Without doubt, the way one takes could be related primarily to a determined goal – that is, result-oriented – which doesn’t necessarily affect one’s existence very much. When going to the airport, one may choose between the highway or the railway; both offer the prospect of a fast and safe arrival (though we all know that things do not always happen the way we plan).

On the other hand: when going into something unknown, one will need to enhance awareness when moving along the chosen direction. Finding one’s way then becomes process-oriented; in each moment, the way outside exists only to the extent that it exists in one’s mind. This is how the concept of method is often adressed in contemporary art and research.

I remember the way I travelled by the side of my mother. I remember the parting of ways.

And the question makes perfect sense.

4 thoughts on “Quality and Research VI

  1. Vad är sorg? Läkningsprocess. Varje dag saknar jag (“I miss”), och minns (“I re-member”).
    Ingen sorg över den som gått, vilande i steget, ur tiden; men ödmjuk tacksamhet.

  2. Mathematicians often proof a hypothesis by asking if the opposite is possible, and then try to proof that. Thus: Is there a method NOT to die?

    I saw a TV-show once, where a young woman was arguing that just because every human before her in history has eventually died, doesn’t mean that she will. She could still be first to be immortal. (She is probably not right, and it wouldn’t make sense to test it now, because she would find out eventually anyway).

    I don’t believe there is a method not to die, and therefor not a method to die. But I do think there is a method (or way) to leave.

    By the way, I just found your blog and I am catching up reading..

    1. Dear Sofie!

      What delight to find your comment here – I appreciate greatly, and I also agree about your conclusions.
      But there exists yet another turn of the question;

      is there a no-method to die?

      Yes, obviously. That is the way we usually leave.
      And so, asking if there is also a method to die may have a meaning to it; if it be possible to choose death – not suicide, but the condition of being mortal, that is – as a direction in life (and ‘way’, by the way, is ‘methodos’ in Greek).

      In writing this, I recall Maria Gripe’s novel I klockornas tid which I read as a child; where the young king Arvid relates the tale of a man sitting in a tree, unaware of the rats gnawing through the tree-trunk and the beautiful and mortally dangerous unicorn awaiting him below… it is a good one.


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