Friday, May 1, 2009


Bloggers get to be eccentric. We don't get paid for what we do, and while we have readers, we don't really have to write for them. I continue to grieve for Ben's death. No explanation should be required and none will be given. The Chinese classic text, The Analects of Confucius records the Philosopher's grief at the death of his student Yan Hui,
Yan Hui died. The Master said: "Alas! Heaven is destroying me, Heaven is destroying me."

Yan Hui died. The Master wailed wildly. His followers said: "Master, such grief is not proper." The Master said: "In mourning such a man, what sort of grief would be proper?"
Standard psychology text books carry Elisabeth Kübler-Ross' five stages of grief theory. Although this is pretty standard by now, the stages of grief theory does not correspond to all of my grief experience. For example, my mother went through a years long dying process. Several years before her death she began to experience a mental decline, that could probably be diagnosed as vascular dementia. When she first exhibited symptoms of mental decline, I felt angry. My mother in a way was doing something to me, after all. She was depriving me of the intelligent woman that she once had been, or at least her failing body was. I was not going to be angry at myself for this, so I was angry with her. It was irrational, of course. But Kübler-Ross suggested that grief triggered an irrational process, which concluded with a return to reason. After a while I adjusted to my mothers failing memory and her declining rationality, and I began to accept the inevitability of her death. By the time my mother actually died I had pre-processed her death. The actual event did not trigger it. My brother Mike died last October. He had suffered for 20 years from a chronic heart ailment, and my father had alerted me two or three years previously that he was not doing well. When Mile died, I was sad, but i did not display the Kübler-Ross stages of grief. Mike had don better than expected for a long time, but he could not cheat death forever.

My father died in January. He died of old age. His body was worn out. I spent the last year of his life studying his scientific career, and this process had been good for both of us. I understood for the first time much of what my father had accomplished, and felt pride about it. My father in turn felt affirmed by my response to what I was learning. The last time we had a discussion about my father's career, my step mother and I praised my father not only for his career accomplishments, but bor many other things he had accomplished in his life. Within hours of this discussion, by father slipped into a terminal illness, that lasted less than a week. I accepted his death. He had been breathing O2 for 24 hours a day for the last year of his life. His kidneys were failing. I thought perhapse he could have received better cardiac care, but I basically knew that he was dying, and although medical intervention might delay it, death could not be delayed for long.

Ben was different, we had chatted on line a couple of weeks before the Saturday he was murdered. I made some naughty suggestions, which I am sure Ben did not follow. Ben was after all stereight as an arrow. Ben Had some health problems, which I did not know about because he did not tell me. Eventually I learned about them and scolded him for keeping quiet, but there was nothing that lead me to believe that Ben was going to die soon. Ben's death was a a shock. Its violent means made it wholly unexpected. There were Kübler-Ross type grief issues, but not Kübler-Ross type order of stages. The struggle for acceptance came quickly. Anger cam later. I targeted the NRA wuth my wrath, but anger in grief is likely to be directed to those who annoy us, and no one annoys me more than renewables advocates. Renewables advocates are not interested in an honest account of renewable power that acknowledges the problems and weakness of renewable energy systems. i am at the moment in a take no prisoners mood for renewables advocates. As soon as they start reciting those infamous anti-nuclear bumper stickers so beloved by Greenpeace types, I favor halling them off to an institute for the criminally insane. If they don't cooperate, just shoot them in the head. if you hear gunfire eruption from the direction of Nuclear Green, I probably have set up a picture of Amory Lovins for target practice. That would no doubt give me greater satisfaction than targeting a picture of the professor who murdered Ben. Allegedly murdered Ben.

So anger might come before acceptance, but then again it might not. In the case of my mother it came with awareness of mortality rather than actual death. Since Ben's death was unexpected, anger came after. Not all losses are accepted. I recently had contact with a girlfriend of 40 years ago, it became apparent to me that I had not accepted the loss of that relationship even after so long a time. At least one recent love affair was triggered by characteristics of the new friend that reminded me of the old, There was nothing conscious about this. the mental is not the same as the connective, and connections can be made at a precognitive level. Nor was this the only love affair that was derived from another.

I do mot know if we have love affairs with people who remind us of earlier lovers because grief at the loss of the earlier lover is unresolved. Plato would tell us that we were already looking for something the first time, and that the new lover would be a return to the quest. What we were really looking for was the universal, the transcendent archetype of which each individual is an imperfect copy. From the Platonic view, grief is a consequence of vesting our affection in the individual rather than the universal. Discovery of the Universal would thus free us from grief. The pure Platonist then would not be an angry person, but pure Platonist surely would be a contradiction because no material thing can be pure in the Platonic view. This is a problem with the Platonic view. Plato viewed each individual thing as a imperfect representation of the universal and Ben was quite perfect.

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