The Q&A Hole: What's One Good Thing About Death?
With Marc Savlov, Steve Moore, Elizabeth Doss, Ken Webster, and more
By Wayne Alan Brenner,
1:03PM, Mon. Apr. 8, 2013
Ah, finally, the post-SXSW return of this weekly Q&A Hole series …
In which, this week, we asked a few people to name one good thing about death. And the macabre subject brought the usual mix of quips and explorations our changing roster of respondents are wont to proffer – including one by the current, ah, champion of Death in this town: playwright Steve Moore, whose mortality-driven Adam Sultan continues to pack 'em in at Salvage Vanguard Theater …
QUESTION: What's one good thing about death?
Elizabeth Doss, Renaissance Woman: Decay is cruelty-free.
Cliff Wildman of Project Rant: The one good thing about death is that it reminds the living, even if for a brief moment, that they are alive and better do something with that transient state before they become the reminder. Also, I won't have to poop anymore. Yes!
Steve Moore of Physical Plant Theater: If you assume, reasonably I think, that death equals the onset of oblivion, then it's hard to see much upside in one's own death – except maybe freedom from some horrific pain. If we mean instead the good that comes from the death of others – and if 'others' doesn't mean mortal enemies – then the best good is probably regret. Regret is a dish only served hot, and the regrets that surround the death of someone we love can sometimes be hot enough to reforge who we are for the better – to make us kinder, more generous and patient, and more vocal with our love for the living. It even seems possible that that kind of regret is the inner hinge of human improvement. If our friends and family never died, would we just be assholes forever?
Skipper Chong Warson of SCW Creative: Let me be honest. Death scares the everliving crap out of me. I know it's not just me, I'm not alone in this; it's a big unknown for a lot of people. I wonder, though – is it like a full stop, or like staying up all night with no sunrise at the dawn, or like dark matter. What happens? What happens really? Would be great to have a Choose Your Own Adventure structure where you can flip to the end, holding your previous place with your thumb, like a trail of breadcrumbs to Ctrl-Z but for real life … Moments like this, I think about the start of my path with spirituality and religion. In my family, when it came to my turn to be baptized, I said no. (No, thank you: To be sure, I was a fairly polite kid.) At that age, 15, I wasn't at all certain about that version of the southern Baptist gospel that was being hoisted upon me. I liked my friends from vacation bible school, I liked going with my little sisters, but were all my Catholic friends really going to hell? Jesus seemed like a nice guy and all ... [whispering] no offense; it's me, not you; please don't hate me. Me, I couldn't shake the nagging teenage uncertainty. Maybe it was angst, maybe it was my form of rebellion. I wonder now, though: Would the act of standing in a pool of water in front of the church congregation with some spoken bible verses back then be some kind of reassurance against this doubt's shadow? … But let's get back to the question – What's the one good thing about death? I say the discharge of this doubt. Utterly and completely. What happens? Will I see a bright light? Will I meet Saint Peter? (If nothing else, I'd really like to know about his favorite joke.) But it's not just doubt. I'd like to give my mom a hug. I hope my Grandma Blanche is actually in a better place as well as my wife's Mammy. That would be nice. Instead of waiting for the slow-motion everlong sequence of the flipping coin to land, sitting on pins and needles to find out the results, I would know. Or not. One way or the other. Like heads or tails. … And for the record, I called heads. Always heads.