In the fine tradition of Your Face Tomorrow, author Lisa Belkin has now joined the anthologies’ familar paeans to living with a Facebook addiction. Most telling, though, is how her heartfelt and wildly popular site for viral viewing is unique and valuable in itself.
Learning How To Die In The Anthropocene Online Book
Writers have always used stories to explore the meaningfulness of life, but how things work, how death really occurs, what influences the history we live through, and what shape the people who make the world take are the topics covered in Pete Smith’s handcrafted, poetic, and truly expansive new release, Learning To Die In The Anthropocene (Abrams, 243 pages, $24.95).
Awarded a Science Fiction Prize and shortlisted for the Nebula Awards, Learning To Die In The Anthropocene employs every new media present to issue an “inter-generational requiem” — the spoken word, lyrics, video, podcasts — all designed to consider the way we live, to contemplate the human impact on this planet, and to record an ever-changing culture of death and dying.
Part historical novel, part scientific overview, part shamanistic experience, Smith’s exploration of death, life, decay, and death’s responsibility to be a mirror, an expression of the undying impulse to find meaning in the end of things becomes a work of poetry and an allegory of tragedy.
Even a person without a real death experience can relate to Smith’s warm, storytelling way of sorting things out. Learning To Die In The Anthropocene may bring back memories of Oz for anyone who has read Jack Finney’s The Real Oz and Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything, but it also reminds us of the tiny nuances of joy, of persistence, of honesty, of creativity, and— as Smith illustrates—how we sometimes get what we want even though we don’t see it coming.[Fisher Rex, 6 pm, November 20, Library of Congress Reading Room, 205 Independence Ave. SW, D.C., 13305. Register: (202) 633-3440]
Have you or someone you know been affected by a chronic disease?
The questions that came up repeatedly in my previous experience with a chronic disease had little to do with how I felt, what brought me to treatments, and what measures I took. Instead, I felt that all the questions and responses came down to an existential and ethical matter of having a right to my life, coming into the light, saying what I want, allowing others to define me by my choices, giving my body the time to heal and adapt to the consequences of my life decisions, and realizing that long periods of illness can create memories we can never get back.
That is, besides destroying your health, shortening your life expectancy, and leaving you on wobbly ground for the rest of your life, according to the latest available medical advice? That is, don’t return from sickness to the same health — to the way you started? — that you once had? That is, don’t return from sickness to life to your biological condition that no one should be forced to live with or consider maladaptive?
The people who died when I went from an ordinary life to almost no life died from chronic disease. I went from to being socially available to almost no life. This was before the advent of social media, so this left no place for me to seek community or support. Years later, I felt as if I had been left behind, behind a town that knew the same or similar names as everyone else but never knew me — an old outbuilding where the community had stopped to picnic, the dance hall where everyone gathered to debate the latest news, a barbershop where everybody went to talk and whisper, and the kitchen where you went to be accepted and welcome.
A couple of years before the advent of social media, I checked into the Regional Care Unit at Fairhaven, where my immune system was attacked and my body set to self-destruction. No more social visits would be necessary. Our lives would never touch again.
The vast quantity of forms you submit every month (in order to eat, put gas in the car, move in with, or to die or come back from death, among other activities) create a vital network of friends, relatives, co-workers, patients, caregivers, and others.
Since many people have few chances to connect, the time spent in the interviewing phase as a medical patient is not possible without exposure to social media, and the benefits made available by that — both for personal health care and for health care in general — cannot be overstated. You can change your mind, learn your diagnosis, reconnect to old friends, witness to music, meet fellow citizens of the world, socialize over food or drink, and laugh.
The benefit of interacting regularly with people all over the world is not lost on the people who write about dying, or those who suffer from a serious illness. Education and communication about the terminal process helps people make choices about treatment, makes them less scared