He or she goes up the next day in another planePosted: August 12, 2014 Filed under: America Since 1945, heroes, the California Condition Leave a comment
Public* mourning makes me uncomfortable. In the tradition I’m from, which let’s say is some combination of Irish/Italian/New England Catholicism and New England puritanism, the appropriate reaction to death, as I understood it, was somber quiet.
Mourning for celebrities tends to very quickly veer into something personal and showy — “I met him once…” “he/she meant this to me…” — that make me a tiny bit queasy. My gut reaction is that it’s a little selfish or self-aggrandizing, a strange reaction to something which should be humbling, reductive of the self.
I can see the other side too, people feel pain and loss and it’s natural enough to want to express it, so: whatever.
There’s also the comedy instinct to find the exact grey border country between “wildly inappropriate” and “just wrong enough, just teasing enough of taboo, to be exciting and boldly funny.” [I still laugh when I think about the guy who walked into the room where we were watching CNN after 9/11 and – not having heard about 9/11 – the dude walked into the room with both middle fingers up and said “what’s up bitches?” Only to then learn what the thing was that was on TV. An accidental joke.] If you’re gonna try this, though, you better be darn sure it’s funny. (The one or two stabs at this I saw yesterday were not just failures but were revolting and ugly.)
Anyway. I guess that’s it. I’m sad Robin Williams died, and the circumstances are extra sad. He died in Tiburon, CA.
Separate note: unrelated:
Yesterday I was reading Warren Bennis‘ book On Becoming A Leader. Not a great book, I have to say, it doesn’t capture or have the same impact of what it was like to hear Bennis in person. But I found myself thinking about this bit, hours later, it stuck in my craw:
Think what a great batting average is: .400 — which means a great batter fails to get a hit more than half the time. Most of the rest of us are paralyzed by our failures, large and small. We’re so haunted by them, so afraid that we’re going to goof again, that we become fearful of doing anything. When jockeys are thrown, they get back on the horse, because they know if they don’t, their fear may immobilize them. When an F-14 pilot has to eject, he or she goes up the next day in another plane.
(* I guess in this case I mean specifically “Twitter”)