January 12, 2017

"In the end, they give us their deaths quite as much as their works, and that is why they are so passionately mourned"

Kathy Shadie writes ‘Extravagant mourning for celebrity musicians is a way to confront our own mortality’

That is what the lives of celebrities provide, quite as much as their work, and that is part of why they are mourned. They collaborate with their audience to make engrossing worlds that neither party quite comprehends, but both know they need. Although this may be one of the things replacing traditional religion, it only works because it does not seem “religious”, moralistic, or cut off from the world around it. It sanctifies, or makes vivid and valuable, the ordinary things of life.
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If that were all celebrity culture does, it would be far less powerful. Consolation and even joy can come from many places in life. What has made these deaths so important to so many people is that they provide an occasion for grief as well. The performance in which the musician and their fans are caught up is ultimately one of tragedy. There is loss and grief in every life, and the death of a beloved singer provides a chance to express this sorrow in gestures more powerful than words could be. In the end, they give us their deaths quite as much as their works, and that is why they are so passionately mourned.
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Posted by Jill Fallon at January 12, 2017 3:39 PM | Permalink