Very timely. In this past twelve months, several giants of the arts have died and gone on to that great mysterious beyond. Leonard Nimoy. Christopher Lee. Terry Prachett. Others. Now, David Bowie and Alan Rickman (!).
I say giants, because they were such; larger than life as public figures, beloved by many.
Of course, they were also people, with families and friends, who still had to do shopping and pay bills (even if these things were easier due to their fame & fortune!).
They had triumphs and made mistakes, had good times and bad.
I saw something today which resonated….some people, because they are public figures producing and acting in things, we tend to feel like they will be immortal because their works are. In a sense, that’s true. See my post last year about Leonard Nimoy’s death, for instance. I’ll paste in some of what I wrote then now (edited slightly), as it’s appropriate.
Fiction and the arts are funny things. By their very nature – stories [etc.] born of imagination – they become ways of exploring things about the world, in ways that in real life would never happen, or have not happened yet. Conversely, they may be stylised accounts of something that has happened or is happening, which the artist or writer has formed an opinion on. Consciously or not, themes within all fiction and the arts reflect things within our world: usually, characters “fight” (physically or metaphorically) with or against these themes – themes like honour, family, love; grief, anger, sacrifice; the function of society or of government; corruption, power, prejudice; and so on.
Fiction – particularly the stories that carry these sorts of themes and explore them well – gathers a fanbase. It “becomes a fandom” so to speak. The characters of fiction are imaginary (however much some of us may wish otherwise). The people playing the roles, writing and singing about these themes, embodying the characters; and those reading or watching or listening to the stories or performances or songs are not. That’s where the power of fandom comes into play.
The themes expressed in these fictional stories speak to us. So we talk about them, their rightness or wrongness and so on. Concepts are discussed. A “what-if” game begins, spawning from our wish to see the better world of the fiction replicated in real life – or, conversely, our desire to never see the bad world of the fiction reproduced here. It changes us.
Part of that change is brought about by our interaction with the artists and writers and performers who embody the works we love. The way these public figures embody those works touches us, in different ways. Whether that’s being comfortable with being different, or being able to capture an audience emotionally in various settings and through various themes. We are made more aware of something deep within us by these greats. No wonder they seem larger than life.
In my opinion, it’s the best form of immortality, creating things to be left behind afterwards so people will remember you. Not soul-splitting things, but things that mean something good, whatever that goodness may be.
But of course, that’s figurative. In reality, no-one is immortal. It always sucks when someone is taken early – whether through disease or accident. Eventually, we’ll all find ourselves going on towards that great mysterious beyond though. Denying that does no good at all. All we can do is live life to the fullest, as best we can.
Chuck explains it better than I could (in his usual style)…. Just remember, people, it’s always better to do something and keep working towards a goal than do nothing.
Support each other and let those you care about share your burdens. We’ll all walk forward together, until our time comes. Even though we may well feel cheated by the death of these greats (cancer etc. is stupid, hmph!), we should also remember that they’ve lived great, even good lives. I’d say that they were happy. Not completely satisfied – Rickman himself (and probably others) said before that there’s always something more to do – but happy.
Isn’t that all we can ask for, in the end?