The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

11 June 2004

Shriek 2

I was in a 49th-birthday funk — fortunately, it's impossible to do that more than once — when I came up with this bit of projection:

Some day, more likely some night, that "finite number of breaths" will be reached, everything will come to an end, and no one will know until two or three days later because some mundane task wasn't performed on time, some phone call wasn't returned, or, most absurdly, because this goddamn Web site wasn't updated.

I wouldn't have thought about it today except that Lachlan, filling in at suburban blight, reported this ghastly tale:

The decomposed body of a man dressed in pajamas was discovered in an abandoned Tokyo apartment building 20 years after he is believed to have died, police said Thursday.

A Tokyo Metropolitan Police official said construction workers were preparing to tear down the building earlier this month when they found the man's skeletal remains laying face-up on a mattress on the tatami reed mat floor of a second-floor room.

Lachlan says that in a town the size of Tokyo, this isn't all that surprising, but:

[T]here is something ineffably sad about a man dying alone.

How much pain did he endure? Did he die in his sleep? Impossible to know, of course. Still, I cannot escape the image of a man in his final moments, in an abandoned building, with no one there. I can only hope he wanted it this way, and that his isolation was a chosen path.

At least I can reasonably expect my absence to be noted within the first week.

Posted at 7:58 AM to General Disinterest


Next year you get to do funk #50. Believe me, that's worse. Happy birthday.

Posted by: Alan Sullivan at 10:50 AM on 11 June 2004

Oh. Just checked the link. You've already done that!

Posted by: Alan Sullivan at 10:53 AM on 11 June 2004

It is a sad thing that a person can live and die unnoticed in our society. Most of us, entirely by default, live our lives entwined with other people. In fact, most of the time it is exremely difficult to un-entwine ourselves from the chains bonds of family and friends.
Even those who have tried to live as recluses have been hunted for by people who knew about them. (e.g. Gary Fisher and Salinger).
Occasionally, a person slips through the web of society and dies alone. It is sad indeed.

Posted by: bleedingbrain at 11:38 AM on 11 June 2004

#50 actually went better than #49, perhaps because I was busy with the details of buying the house and didn't have any time to reflect on whatever issues might have attached themselves.

Barring catastrophe — and don't I wish I could do that? — #51 should be pretty decent.

Posted by: CGHill at 11:44 AM on 11 June 2004

happy birthday and if the Japanese had the same property tax as Oklahoma then they would have sold his flat for 17 years ago.

Posted by: rammer at 11:01 PM on 11 June 2004

If I get to the point where Surlywood is sold for nonpayment of taxes (which run $750 a year or so), I probably ought to be left to die.

Posted by: CGHill at 11:51 AM on 12 June 2004