The day before. my immaculate body in the North Sea
It’s been a long winter, and so good to have a bit of Spring warmth. There were times over the past three months when I wondered if I would ever feel truly heated through again. This was partly because I was undergoing extensive bathroom replacement therapy, which meant I was using the strange and unfathomable macerator loo in my freezing cold attic. So middle of the night journeys involved extreme cold and discomfort.
"How could I possibly force myself outside in my nightie?"
In some part of my “what will happen in the end” future plans for my own death bed (sketchy, I admit) I have a scenario in which I decide to make my own way out via freezing to death. This would involve leaving the house on a below zero night wearing only minimal clothing and just hanging around until unconsciousness became oblivion. But this winter, it occurred to me that I hadn’t thought this through. I really hate to feel cold, and would rather face debtors' prison through failure to pay massive heating bills than get cold. How would I possibly force myself outside in my nightie into a blizzard?
Obviously, I’d have to be drunk. And in fact, this would help to speed up the whole process, apparently: hypothermia strikes more rapidly if you have consumed alcohol. So think about that, young people, in your skimpy Saturday night out garments. The body shuts down faster when you’ve been drinking and you may not be as lucky as this 19 year old. Plus, when you know the details of what happens, it doesn’t sound quite so appealing.
"Is it better to put your oldies in a home, or leave them up a mountain?"
Some cultures have used this as a means of assisting the elderly into the next world. Ubasute (姥捨て, "abandoning an old woman", also called obasute and sometimes oyasute 親捨て"abandoning a parent") is the mythical practice of senicide in Japan, whereby an infirm or elderly relative was carried to a remote place, such as a mountain, and left to die. However, this seems to be more the stuff of legend or a good topic for a film. It does, however, draw attention to our current attitudes: is it better to put your oldies in a home, as opposed to leave them up a mountain? This is one of those questions which might seem easy to answer when you are 30, less so later on.
Of course, there’s another way of looking at the freezing to death question: I’m talking Cryonics, or the use of temperatures below -130 °C to preserve both bodies and brains after “death”. I don’t think I really understand the motivation behind the urge to have yourself frozen for the future. It smacks of incredible optimism, or ego, or both. But nevertheless, cryonicists argue that true "death" should be defined as irreversible loss of brain information critical to personal identity, rather than inability to resuscitate using current technology. Cryonics uses low temperatures to preserve a body for future revival. However, even using the best methods, cryopreservation of whole bodies or brains is very damaging and irreversible with current technology. I can bear this out with reference to the contents in my freezer, some of which have been there a long time, and which I no longer plan to eat, but can’t quite bear to throw out.
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by Jo Colley