Terrible Food, Small Portions: Andrew Stark on Accepting Your Inevitable Demise

Oct 4, 2016

September 12, 2016

Host: Josh Zepps

andrew-stark-3Death is an unsettling thing to come to grips with. We know it is inevitable that it will one day happen to us. One of the first things most of us learn about death is that it happens to everyone, yet perhaps because no one ever comes back to tell the tale, there’s a lot about our impending doom that’s difficult to fully grasp. To help us take comfort in our inexorable demise, we welcome Andrew Stark, an author and political science professor at the University of Toronto.

Having spent time as a policy advisor to the Prime Minister of Canada, he now offers himself as a life advisor – or rather, a death advisor – in his new book The Consolations of Mortality: Making Sense of Death. Stark gives us an overview of what the greatest minds of history have said about what it means to die. With a skeptical eye, he sorts through the various arguments for how we should feel about death, effectively shaking off the sugar coating of mortality in an effort to provide us with solace that stands the test of logic.

Click here to listen to this episode of Point of Inquiry.


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7 comments on “Terrible Food, Small Portions: Andrew Stark on Accepting Your Inevitable Demise

  • Death makes everything possible…the sweetness, the joy.

    Not being built for heaven, I’m not sure we could survive our absolute maximum possible age of six score and two without a growing sense of despair, however healthy.



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  • phil rimmer #1
    Oct 7, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    I’m not sure we could survive our absolute maximum possible age of six score and two without a growing sense of despair, however healthy.

    At least one study suggests other limits!

    http://www.redorbit.com/news/health/1113416119/human-lifespan-limit-100616/

    Advancements in science and medicine have helped people live longer and longer over the last several hundred years, but new research published this week in the journal Nature suggests that no matter what we do, it is unlikely that most people will make it past the age of 115.



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  • I finally made it through the episode. I’d fall into categories one and three. I think death is benign, it’s life that’s ruthless. And I think a mortal life offers everything immortality offers. I don’t think people are afraid of death but of not having mattered. And of course, of the actual dying

    I do think it’s time that is the bastard. If we could stop time until we understood what we were doing or felt “caught up”, I wonder if we’d care about dying. When I’ve had close calls my overwhelming thought was “but I haven’t done anything yet!”. (Is that an American thing?)

    I don’t think death makes sweetness and joy possible. I don’t even accept that all good things must end. I think they transmogrify. Nothing is static. A thing of beauty really is a joy forever, but not necessarily every moment of forever.

    I wonDer if the fear of deatb, of the deadline, is some sort of procrastination thing. There are people who seem to live with that benign definition of death – if I am alive death is not (whatever the precise quote was in the episode). That seems to me to be the way to go. Every kiss is the last of that moment, and yet the sweetness of it can stay with you if you are aware of it when it happens. My 2 year old no longer exists (she’s 15 now ) but yet she exists in my memory and in her 15 year old self.

    Anyway… if there are any poetry lovers out there my favorite poem about death is D.H.Lawrence’s Ship of Death (I think that’s the title – can’t check right now).



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  • anyone interested in this topic – and let’s face it, it should be all of us should listen to this excellent podcast series by a former Australian comedian (now producer) Andrew Denton, some excellent interviews with and Q&A with him on you tube as well around the issue of Death with Dignity and Euthanasia, very moving well thought out and thought provoking.

    http://www.wheelercentre.com/broadcasts/podcasts/better-off-dead.rss?type=audio

    on Q&A

    http://www.abc.net.au/tv/qanda/txt/s4325242.htm

    at the National Press Club

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMP8eDEik14



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  • Reckless Monkey #5
    Oct 9, 2016 at 12:19 am

    . . . . . . . Andrew Denton, some excellent interviews with and Q&A with him on you tube as well around the issue of Death with Dignity and Euthanasia,

    Euthanasia is a very good option for the terminally ill – especially if they are likely to end up with decisions being made for them by “saints”!

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2016/09/st-mother-teresa-and-the-miracles-game/#li-comment-210763



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  • LaurieB: the age of 115.
    Sounds good to me. I’ll take it!

    From Greek Mythology: Eos, the Titan goddess of dawn, asked Zeus to grant [her lover] Tithonus immortality, but did not think of asking to grant him eternal youth too. As a result, Tithonus aged and did not die, resulting in his strength wilting away to the point that he could no longer move his arms. All he could do was babble continuously

    Buyer’s remorse, anyone?



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