Currently, I am reading Shooting an Elephant, by George Orwell (author of the famed Animal Farm and 1984). I love it so much! It’s a collection of short essays and such compiled into a book.
I’ve read about half of the articles so far, and I am in love with Orwell’s writing style and his processes thought and his powers of articulation.
Here’s a little excerpt of “How the Poor Die”:
“As I gazed at the tiny, screwed-up face it sturck me that this disgusting piece of refuse, waiting to be carted away and dumped on a slab in teh dissection rom, was an example of “natural” death, one of the things you pray for in the Litany. There you are, then, I though, that’s what is waiting for you, twenty, thrity, fourty years hence: that is how the lucky ones die, the one who lives to be old. One wnats to live, of course, indeed one only stay alive by virture of the fear of death, but I think now, as I though then, that it’s better to die violently and not too old. People talk of the horrors of war but what weapon has man invented that even apporaches in cruelty some of the commoner diseases? “Natural” death, almost by definition, means something slow, smelly and painful. Even at that, it makes a difference if you can ahcieve it in your own home and not in a public institution.”
I have certainly heard references to this sentiment before, though I’m not sure if Orwell is the origin:
“And it is a great thing to die in your own bed, though it is better still to die in your boots.”
– Orwell, George. Shooting an Elephant. 1945. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
I have more than a few thoughts from all this reading, and I wish that someone else was reading it alongside me so we could discuss and philosophize. As it is, I will defer my opinions until I have read more and dissected some of the articles more so I may present my thoughts in the most coherent manner.
However, the moral of this post remains, go read this book.