Among the many things our civilisation is afraid of, death is at the centre. We are afraid to fall back into this allegedly deserted world of mute objects. But death means becoming edible again; it means becoming compost, mycelium, nitrogen and so on, ultimately putting yourself in service to life.If we look at the metabolism of a living cell, we see that it is constantly decaying. It breaks down and is built again. That’s precisely the core of your aliveness: putting yourself together again. Undying. But not avoiding death.Immortality, which is so worshipped by our civilisation, is the biggest ecological mistake you can make. Death is an integral part of life, as is birth…If you understand this cosmos as fundamentally alive, you’ll see that there is no way out of this life. There is just a continuous unravelling into otherness.Death is metamorphosis. Death is becoming kin with the earth. It is intimate ecological embrace. The system of living relationships only works because everyone is edible. That’s the mystery, and one we must yield to.
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Things don’t have purposes, as if the universe were a machine, where every part has a useful function. What’s the function of a galaxy? I don’t know if our life has a purpose and I don’t see that it matters.What does matter is that we’re a part. Like a thread in a cloth or a grass-blade in a field. It is and we are. What we do is like wind blowing on the grass.
—Ursula K. Le Guin
The Lathe of Heaven
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