Ars Moriendi, The Art of Dying: How to die in 6 chapters.

I came across a reference to Ars Moriendi:
Ars moriendi ("The Art of Dying") is the name of two related Latin texts dating from about 1415 and 1450 which offer advice on the protocols and procedures of a good death, explaining how to "die well" according to Christian precepts of the late Middle Ages. It was written within the historical context of the effects of the macabre horrors of the Black Death 60 years earlier and consequent social upheavals of the 15th century. It was very popular, translated into most West European languages, and was the first in a western literary tradition of guides to death and dying.
I made some weak attempts at finding an English translation.  Unsuccesful, yet very moved by the idea of how to have a "good death," I decided to write my own counsel.

In the wiki entry there are six chapter headings.  These will be my guide.  I hope you can die well after consulting this:

Stephan Doitschinoff, aka Calma, ‘Ars Moriendi’ 2008 (re This Isn’t Happiness)

Stephan Doitschinoff, aka Calma, ‘Ars Moriendi’ 2008

The first chapter explains that dying has a good side, and serves to console the dying man that death is not something to be afraid of.
(spoiler alert)
You are dying.  If you didn't know this or want to know this then you are reading the wrong post.  I'm supposed to convince you that dying has a good side.  Since I don't know what that is, we can brainstorm together.  Obviously this is not the good part of the process.  Sitting here contemplating your mortality isn't how I planned to spend my morning either. 
Something good about death is that you don't have to worry about what it all means.  Too bad you didn't consider that sooner.  When you had time to capitalize on that knowledge.  Like say, the realization that agonizing over any decision is ultimately pointless since the consequences are largely negated by your passing.  Disclaimer: your belief system may propose consequences for your choices.  However unlikely that seems.
Anyhow, between now and your passing you have carte blanche.   
I know it seems like a bad time.  But consider that most the important events in your life were ill timed.  I know you had things yet to do.  Are they unfinished now or just unimportant?
The second chapter outlines the five temptations that beset a dying man, and how to avoid them. These are lack of faith, despair, impatience, spiritual pride and avarice.
You are to be tempted in your final moments.  You will suffer a lack of faith.  This is normal and possibly the sanest response.
You will be beset by despair.  This usually means your death is not as spectacular as it could be.  In this case the obvious solution is to engage in some ill advised and very dangerous activity.  If that doesn't rid you of despair try the various substances you used for despair during your life.
You will have little patience in your final moments.  Who has time for manuals on dying or talking to automated phone systems?  The poorly designed interface on your phone will probably hasten the inevitable anyway.
You may feel proud of your piety.  Or feel self-satisfied with your donations to the church.  I sure hope you picked the right one!  It is a bit of a crap shoot isn't it?  What with so many religions and gods.  Yours is the right one, isn't it?
Don't be jealous that others will wake up tomorrow without you.  We are all standing in line at the DMV of life.   And everyone is in a hurry to get their number called.
The third chapter lists the seven questions to ask a dying man, along with consolation available to him through the redemptive powers of Christ's love.
So let's ask the right questions now:
Before it's too late:
While there is still time: Yes.
Who are you?  If you don't know by now, then be quick!
What does it all mean?  This will be graded on style over substance.
Why are we here? Nevermind.  I'm asking the questions here.
Where is your god now? pretty standard stuff.
When do we eat? That one is for me.  You are dying, so you eat whatever is on your plate.
How does it all end? The answer shortly; after the jump.
There were seven questions?  Hmmm.
The fourth chapter expresses the need to imitate Christ's life.
Ideally you will have imitated your heroes in life.  Maybe Christ, Buddha, Keanu, Ghandi, Your 6th grade teacher, that guy in the office downstairs, Joseph Campbell, and of course Al Bundy.
The fifth chapter addresses the friends and family, outlining the general rules of behavior at the deathbed.
Your Family and Friends should carry on like idiots as you are dying.  They should also fake smile and talk about everything EXCEPT the obvious.  Every time someone leaves the room they should hi-five the next visitor on the way in.  There should be lots of gossiping in the hall.  Especially about cousin Daryl.  You know what I mean.  I can't believe he's here either.  There is plenty of guilt to go around.  This is best alleviated by screaming children, going outside to smoke, and hurried calls to the office.  Someone in the family should be nice enough to provide some self absorbed drama to distract everyone.  Oh, and couples don't forget to get RAGING horny for each other later.  This is the only proof of concept vs. your own mortality.
The sixth chapter includes appropriate prayers to be said for a dying man.
Now we lay you to rest.  You will be missed.  Even by those who hadn't seen you in years.  Stuff will go on.
But the ABSENCE.
That's what we will feel.  The yawn of unoccupied spirit that you vacate.  It will sweep over us at odd moments.
And those moments will have a sweetness to them that you left there as a surprise.

Alan Moore states that ART is MAGIC

I keep coming back to this clip from 'The Mindscape of Alan Moore'. Copyright, Shadowsnake Films,

Alan Moore is a writer and artist famously known for Watchmen, V for Vendetta and other graphic novels.

This video clip hits me in my gut.  As an artist myself it is like a war cry into my soul.  More than that, the ideas expressed by Alan in this clip, expose the source of the blood in my mouth.  The unwelcome taste that comes from fighting the opposing forces of a life in art and surrender to normalcy.

Alan says that on his 40th birthday he would "Terrify my friends by declaring myself to be a magician."  That would terrify my friends, family, landlord, and dog.

Alan calls this a logical end step in his career as a writer.  He argues that "magic is a science of language and you have to be very careful of what you say."  He says modern ideas of magic create "some confusion as to what magic is.  Magic in its earliest form is often referred to as the art."  He believes this to be completely literal,

magic is art.

Art forms like painting, writing, music, and sculpture are literally magic.  Because art like magic is the science of manipulating symbols.  As a writer you find magic woven into the fabric of language.  He points out that, "A grimoire or a book of spells is simply a fancy way of saying grammar."

"An artist or writer is the closest thing in the contemporary world you are likely to see to a shaman." Whereas, in our past, Art was the province of the shaman.  The modern users of shamanism and magic are advertisers.  Modern writers and artists have sadly accepted that their work is mere entertainment.  Instead of knowing their work to be a transformative force that can change a human being or a society,

They are seen as simple entertainment to fill 20 minutes or half an hour while we are waiting to die.

The job of the artist is not give the audience what they want.  It is to give the audience what they need.

And I would add that the artist is driven by his own need.

The American Message: Don't Stop!

From Maira Kalman:

Don't ever stop!  From David Brooks:
Eighty-six percent of Chinese believe their country is headed in the right direction, compared with 37 percent of Americans.
Only 22 percent of the Chinese believe their country is an innovation leader now, but 63 percent are confident that their country will be the global technology leader within 30 years. The majority of the Chinese believe that China will produce the next society-changing innovation, while only a third of Americans believe the next breakthrough will happen here...
 What up America?  Time to set it off!  If you are lacking motivation see Maira above.

Extreme sports drink to chug the pain away

No pain, MORE gain!  From designer Loren Kulesus:

Sans caffeine since that would cause liver damage.  Would you chug it?

The Men Who Stare at iPhones: ESP free iPhone app

You may have this feeling about your iphone already.  But after I downloaded this app, and tested myself, I found myself asking, "what does my iphone want from me?"

I won't make you intuit the link: ESP trainer app available for free from the App Store.

"The ESP trainer was developed under a NASA program by Russell Targ at Stanford Research Institute.  The purpose of the trainer is to allow you to become aware of what it feels like when you psychically choose the correct square. When you don't have that special feeling, we encourage you to press the Pass button. (So this is not a "forced choice" test.)
In a year long NASA program with 145 subjects (under Contract 953653 NAS7-100) many were able to significantly improve their scores. Four of the subjects improved their scores at the hundred-to-one level or better."

For some reason, the red square is the only one that jumps out at me.  Maybe I was a Toro Bravo in a previous life.  In my short time testing this app, I cannot even make statistically probable guesses.  I am like the ANTI-psychic.  So, here I sit, staring at my iphone, waiting for that special feeling.

Please tell me about your results!

Gender (check one): Male? Female? Eunuch?

India has granted it's other gendered populace the right to not be forced to pick Male or Female categories on ballot forms.

As per the BBC: Indian Eunuchs given separate IDs,  "There are about 500,000 eunuchs in India. Known as hijras, they comprise the hermaphrodite, transvestite and transsexual communities.
Eunuchs are feared and reviled in many parts of India, where some believe they have supernatural powers."

What does checking a gender box have to do with anything really?  Does it affect your vote?  Does it invalidate it?  My driver's license has my gender boxed under the heading of "SEX".  When I get pulled over for some infraction, I would prefer it read "SEX: Not Often While Driving, Officer."

If your gender changes during your lifetime (not I,  I've committed to a box already), I wonder how you identify yourself to yourself.  Obviously to the world you may change your presentation with a name change and wardrobe makeover.  But even that is often rejected.  So how about internally? Is it you? Or something unexpected? If any transsexual person would like to share, feel free to comment.

Oddly, this exciting new demographic has yet to catch on in the more penis friendly parts of the world.

10 phenomena likely to fly out of the LHC's butt

Sergio Bertolucci, the director for research and scientific computing at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, which controls the collider, recently TOLD REPORTERS:
"Out of this door might come something, or we might send something to it."
Toronto Star article: Collider could open hole to new dimensions

Right.   He is saying we could open a rift to other dimensions.  No problem.  I have some theories what may come through.

  • The Mayan Army that's been trapped by AH-PUCH, and having defeated this lesser god, waiting for just the right moment, say 2012... to reclaim their lost kingdom.
  • A horde of thriller dancing zombies.
  • Snuggles, the fabric softener bear.
  • The rumored milfcougar, legendary, but unlikely.
  • Bin Laden
  • Throw a mentos in there... I just want to see what happens.
  • tweets from Carl Sagan
  • cropcircle templates
  • Q
  • The Mist 
and of course.... WINGed MONKEYs!

That's a start.  Do you have any predictions on what may sneak through the LHC wormhole?  Or even better, what we could send over to the other side?  Add your comments plz.

D augmented reality collAR. New from the WAG store!

D augmented reality collAR
  • Pack status rankings using the truK9 algorithm from alpha dog to little bitch.
  • BSA (bark spectrum analyzer): perks up when the frequency known as the bark-bluffing wave is detected.  It boasts a 98 percent hit rate for reliable "bark is worse than bite" assurance.

  • Real time begging analytics seamlessly mesh your  puppy eyes with human behavioral metrics.
  • Squirrel scan HUD and photogeometric tracking of those furry bastards.
  • BoneBury password protection and depth encryption.
As part of the SNIFFer platform:
  • Pmail : improved spam filters for spayed or neutered.  aroma assist, and geo tagging for home range, territorial pissings, and nervous tinkles.
  • biffer integration: the signature "Hello world!" app.  micro-buttsniffing various states of wag from rapid to tucked away,  broadcast your "beefs" beyond your pack.  Integrated with dog-park and assbook.
  • On the go: switch to head window mode for rapid SNIFFer rates and paw free operation.
  • toggle auto-pound on/off for leash free operation.
also at the wag store:

Frisbee vector
Scaredy cat
PetSmart locater

New Age U.S. army?

I just watched Jon Ronson's documentary on "The Men Who Stare at Goats."  This is what the new George Clooney movie is based on.  The more I watched the more I felt myself slipping down a rabbit hole of my own credulity.

The Men Who Stare at Goatse
Sean Bonner's tumblr

The borders of what I will accept as possible are very gray.  And shifting.  I've experienced enough strangeness in my own life to keep me guessing.  So when I see men in the establishment, men who are not like me, playing paranormal games with the end goal of torture and death... well, it gets my goat.

I mean, First Earth Battalion? This concoction of an army that carries lambs into battle and greets with hugs is so far out that it couldn't be part of our armed forces.  But it was, and is.

No matter how noble this concoction was, the army ultimately used these ideas to try to stop a goat's heart.  Anything for death or torture.  Be all you can be.

If you know yourself, then who is your avatar?

I've been reading a lot over the last few years about the way people identify themselves.  The ways we define ouselves don't seem comfortably fixed the way one might prefer.  Study after study shows identity to be a fluid experieence that can morph to fill a role.

For example, from physorg, Although often seen as an inconsequential feature of digital technologies, one's self-representation, or avatar, in a virtual environment can affect the user's thoughts, according to research by a University of Texas at Austin communication professor.

In this study, preselected traits in a subjects avatar influenced their thoughts and behaviors.  They fell in line with the role they were inhabiting as the avatar.  Things as simple as wearing a dark cloak made them more antisocial.  This has already been demonstrated in normal reality studies.  Now the fluid identity can flow to the virtual.

If an avatar wasn't enough for you, what about a new physical body?, Cognitive neuroscientists at the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet (KI) have succeeded in making subjects perceive the bodies of mannequins and other people as their own. 

What does this say about who you think you are?  Are we something fixed?  Or are we an energy that shifts and flows about, filling the roles available like water fills a gully?  What is identity?  If it is something fluid, can it be examined as a fluid, or as some kind of flowing energy transfer?

The air force was able to reproduce out of body experiences in pilots at Luke AFB under high g-forces.   Their identities separated from their bodies and observed from elsewhere.

Unsettling or freeing depending on which side of your identity you occupy today! 


This blog will celebrate emerging geekery in the form of art, nano, bio, info, fashion cogno and magic.  Those things on the verge of breaking paradigms.  Tech sufficiently advanced to be indistiguishable from magic.  Or magic itself.  The language of magic that codes the mysterious.  The science that ponders the infinite.

And when we've considered the crazy, what do we do with it?  Let's use the new tools in ways not yet considered.

Breaking new promises daily!