There’s a fundamentally personal aspect to the end of a person’s life, one I’ve never spent much time peering into. It seems like some final invasion of privacy, something that celebrities (in particular) long ago traded away. It doesn’t seem like asking too much to give a little back at the very end.
Certainly there is always a deep impact felt upon those closest to them, but for my own part, I’ve never quite understood the imprint that celebrity deaths have upon the cultural zeitgeist. The Hobbit wept bitterly when Lady Diana was killed in a car crash – of course, she cries when the laundry goes out. But as for myself, I’d never met the lady.
We are all born, we travel through out allotted time the best we can and eventually come to the clearing at the end of the path. All of this is banal, the mystery starts where the tale ends.
But it is interesting, from a clinical perspective, to see the sudden upwelling of interest among people who share nothing else in common but the awareness that someone who had once been famous – or even infamous – is with us no longer. If you can take the common pulse by refreshing Twitter – I think you can, at least for the world that’s wired that way – you’ll note that the “trending topic” of #iranelection, which had been white hot for the better part of two weeks, has finally been thrust aside in favor of Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson.
I wonder what the temptation is in this sort of behavior: Some sort of communalism, a shared moment in a world grown too large for that sort of thing? Or is it a way of attaching oneself to fame at its seventh echo?
Update: Jonah does it better.