Coming Soon:

The following books by Robert Paul Wolff are available on Amazon.com as e-books: KANT'S THEORY OF MENTAL ACTIVITY, THE AUTONOMY OF REASON, UNDERSTANDING MARX, UNDERSTANDING RAWLS, THE POVERTY OF LIBERALISM, A LIFE IN THE ACADEMY, MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF FORMAL METHODS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON KANT'S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for "Robert Paul Wolff Kant." There they will be.

To contact me about organizing, email me at rpwolff750@gmail.com




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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

FUNERARY MUSINGS

Like many people my age, I regularly read the obituary columns, to see who has passed [which is to say, whom I have outlived.] Twenty years ago, seventy-five seemed a respectable age. Now, I view those who barely survive into their eighties to have been cut off in their prime.

This morning, I read that the wonderful English actor Ian Carmichael died at 87 [an acceptable age to me at this point in my life]. I rushed right home and ordered "I'm All Right, Jack" from NetFlix. For those of you too young to remember, that movie is a hilarious send-up of labor-management relations in post-war England, with Peter Sellars doing a priceless turn as a Communist labor leader with an absurdly nubile daughter. I strongly recommend it.

I was also reminded of an idea I have had for an on-line business, though my son, Patrick, who is a serious hedge fund manager, has been less than enthusiastic about its prospects. All of us obit readers have wondered what our own obituaries would look like, and indeed whether we would even rate an obituary not submitted to the classifieds by the grieving survivors. Unfortunately, up 'til now, it has been necessary to die in order to rate an obituary, a fact that makes reading it difficult. Large newspapers, like the NY TIMES, maintain elaborate files of prospective obituaries, of course [appropriately stored in a room called by reporters "the Morgue"], and, at least in the case of important public figures, regularly update them, so that as soon as someone pops off, the text is ready to print. But I do not think one can present oneself at 620 8th Avenue and ask to see one's obituary.

So, here is the idea: For a fee, OnLineObits.com, a subsidiary of HaveYourCakeAndEatItToo, Inc., will prepare and post a full-scale obituary, complete with capsule reviews of any publications or other creative works, a summary of academic honors [if any] and military service [if any], and a fair and balanced account of one's marriages or other significant relationships. A space will be reserved for anticipatory eulogies. For an additional fee, subscribers will receive a printed copy, suitable for framing. the service will be rigorously objective, and no self-prepared texts will be accepted. You pays your money and takes your chances.

Any takers?

5 comments:

NotHobbes said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUZs0h1fOxI

A great loss to film and theatre, Ian often portrayed the archetypal Englishman, the epitomy of middle class decency. I know little of the man himself, only the characters he brought to life- including "Windrush" of Alright Jack fame.
Hope everyone enjoys the clip

Brenda said...

Being naturally wary, I'd trust my children for an obit far more than some anonymous and un-attributable web source. But good luck with it.

Mitchell J. Freedman said...

"I'm alright, Jack" is definitely one of the great films. It should be redone for an American audience in the 21st Century as our empire begins to crumble. Too bad we can't even find a Mr. Kite (Peter Sellers' union red character) in America, though...

Robert Paul Wolff said...

The closest we come, I guess, is Michael Moore.

NotHobbes said...

A 21st century remake of "Alright Jack"...Brilliant idea! I wonder if the Governor of California would be interested in the role of
Kite? ;-)
(Schoolboy type sniggers and running off, wiping nose along sleeve)