Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Kaleidoscope of Life

Husband and I, sharing sorrowfully thoughts about the death of Robin Williams this week, considered the sad but inevitable truth that, as one ages the loss of long-appreciated, loved at a distance, fellow-travellers who've been with us for much of our adult life, is going to be a fact of elder life. Increasing numbers will leave us, some much too tragically soon, others at a time more to be expected.

In the last few weeks and months we've lost Philip Seymour Hoffman, James Garner, Tony Benn, and now Robin Williams, then in news quickly following, Lauren Bacall, among many others less known to us by their work. These, especially for us (or for me in the case of Tony Benn) leave gaps nobody else is likely to fill, even for us, let alone for their families whose loss is tremendous. We're simply minute parts, tiny part-pixels of the lost ones' vast international audiences.

Our antidote to these losses, if there is one, as well as keeping their work and attainments handy for re-viewing, re-considering, re-reading, has to be a cultivation of new favourites, new "heroes" who, though never filling the shoes of those gone before, will offer new and different talents, and perhaps different perspectives.

As the kaleidoscope of life shakes a little, the view changes.

"And, as always happens, and happens far too soon, the strange and wonderful becomes a memory and a memory becomes a dream. Tomorrow it's gone."
― Terry Pratchett, "Wintersmith".


♥ Sonny ♥ said...

He will be missed but always loved and appreciated.
Thru all his agony he brought us Joy. I want so much to believe he has now found it for himself.

Twilight said...

Sonny ~ I do hope that is so, Sonny.

mike said...

Interesting the Hoffman and Williams had very close Sun positions and both have films to be released posthumously. Their passing does make good on the axiom that money and fame do not buy happiness. I have very mixed feelings about the rich and famous that commit suicide or suicide-by-drugs. They are idolized in life and death, yet their mundane, non-famous counterparts that also select their demise are usually met with completely different reactions from the living.

We were born to die in a beautiful cycle of creation. Yet, from the earthly perspective it appears as tremendous loss and abandonment. I have a Scorpio stellium, so I'm sure that my view of death is shared with a minority. I far prefer to celebrate a person's life while they're living, rather than to toss accolades at their funeral. I've been to too many services where glorious eulogies were provided by individuals that had little to do with the deceased while alive.

A dear friend of mine passed two weeks ago at the age of 94 and I'll miss her dearly. She had a rich, fulfilling life, with a rapid decline these past several years, so I'm pleased that she's no longer embodied. I've had a number of good friends pass while quite young and those are the friends that have left me wondering, saddened, and dismayed at their fate.

mike (again) said...

P.S. - Two cheeky movies about death I highly recommend:

"The Loved One is a 1965 black comedy film about the funeral business in Los Angeles, which is based on The Loved One: An Anglo-American Tragedy (1948), a short satirical novel by Evelyn Waugh. It was directed by British filmmaker Tony Richardson and the screenplay – which also drew on Jessica Mitford's book The American Way of Death (1963)[2] – was written by noted American satirical novelist Terry Southern and British author Christopher Isherwood.

The film stars Robert Morse, Jonathan Winters, Anjanette Comer and Rod Steiger. Among those making appearances in smaller roles are John Gielgud, Roddy McDowall, James Coburn, Milton Berle and Liberace."

"Harold and Maude is a 1971 American romantic black comedy directed by Hal Ashby and released by Paramount Pictures. It incorporates elements of dark humor and existentialist drama, with a plot that revolves around the exploits of a young man named Harold (played by Bud Cort) intrigued with death. Harold drifts away from the life that his detached mother (Vivian Pickles) prescribes for him, and slowly develops quite a strong and close friendship and eventually a romantic relationship with a 79-year-old woman named Maude (Ruth Gordon) who teaches Harold about living life to its fullest and that life is the most precious gift of all."

Twilight said...

mike ~ Your view is probably shared by a proportion of the population. While I follow your reasoning I can't share your feelings on this.

Depression and/or addictive traits (and there's probably a close connection between the two) seem to be at the root of many suicides.

When a person whose talent is appreciated by millions has one or both of these afflictions the reaction to their death is obviously going to be heard, and loudly. Reaction among small circles of relatives and loved ones of similarly afflicted individuals, when they choose to leave their bodies in death, is going to be a whisper in comparison, but no less heartfelt.

Regarding wealth and fame : in some cases I think the release of a largre volume of built up energies, maybe a side effect of the depression/addictive nature. In afflicted persons who also have innate talent for something - something to which the public easily responds (Robin Williams' comic ability, Vincent Van Gogh's paintings (eventually) - these huge busts of energy coming out on canvas or on stage are, I believe a symptom of the affliction. Wealth and fame, I suspect, were not the original driving force for such people. That was a side effect too, and out of their hands.

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ Thanks - I shall seek out those films.

mike (again) said...

I'll make one last comment on this post, Twilight...I don't want to appear too disrespectful of the deceased.

A commoner that dies of an illegal drug overdose is usually viewed as a loser and societal reject that got what he-she deserved via the association with the illicit. On the other hand, an alcoholic rarely dies from alcohol poisoning, but rather the demise is from alcohol-related causes, physiological (liver failure), or accidental (car crash or falling). The alcoholic's death is somehow more honorable and alcohol over-consumption may not even be mentioned. Same for cigarettes. Same for obesity. Same for stress. Same for texting while driving. There are many ways of killing ourselves that do not have a detrimental societal implication.

I've known of several non-famous suicides where the suicide has been known amongst the close friends and relatives, but is kept quiet. There's a taint of embarrassment and shame associated with drug overdose and suicide for the survivors of the deceased, particularly the ones sharing genes, as it conflicts a family's namesake and standing in their community.

Our society is much more willing to overlook strange things, if an individual is beloved, famous, and rich. Think of Michael Jackson's chronic use of propofol and benzodiazepine as sleep aides and his fondness of boys that was constantly refuted in court proceedings. A fellow like Michael Jackson, but without the accoutrements of fame, wouldn't live long in my neighborhood.

anyjazz said...

A thoughtful and well-put post, tw. As you point out, we must learn from those heroes and move forward.

Twilight said...

mike ~ It depends in which circles one moves as to whether a "commoner" who dies as a result of drug overdose is "usually viewed as a loser and societal reject that got what he-she deserved". In all of my longish life I've never met anyone who takes this view, and have certainly never thought in that way myself. Sadness for such a waste is my first thought, then sadness for the pain, whether brought on by addiction, physical pain or mental pain, and causing such an end. The same applies whether the person is rich and famous or an unknown.

All those other addictions you mention - alcohol, tobacco, food,
and the rest, spring from the same broad source, inner needs which have been over compensated because of a fault in a person's "mechanism", in my opinion. If death occurs because of those needs, I feel nothing but sympathy - as in drugs cases.

When someone who has given us (the public) pleasure and entertainment over many years, yes we are going to let it be known that we feel sorrow at the death of such a person - whatever the cause, whatever their failings- for we all have failings and are not well-equipped to judge the failings of others. We, who have not walked in their shoes.

Twilight said...

anyjazz ~ Thanks.

Twilight said...

If anyone would like to read a beautifully written, insightful piece on Robin Williams, do see Russell Brand's at the Guardian. My goodness, but this man can write!

LB said...

Twilight ~ I liked what Robin Williams' daughter, Zelda, had to say about her father's passing:

I laughed out loud when I got to the part about the pigeons.:)

Twilight said...

LB ~ Thanks for the link - yes, lovely and touching words from a heart so obviously broken.

LB said...

Twilight ~ For many years, Robin Williams and I lived in adjoining neighborhoods. I remember once running into him on the street and knowing I knew him but not from where, which he seemed to enjoy.:) He *seemed* like a regular guy, very friendly and approachable.

He lived in a wealthier neighborhood and at Halloween (when a lot of his neighbors' homes were dark and no one came to the door), his house gave out toys.

I'm sad he's gone, sad he suffered. A couple of estranged friends passed under similar circumstances and his passing stirred up the same sense of frustration and loss.

Twilight said...

LB ~ A nice memory! Everyone who knew him personally, or those whose words I've read, say the same: that he was a truly nice, gentle, sweet guy - or "a mensch" (which I'm never sure about but know it's good!)

I took a quick look at his chart at just now. Saw that his natal Sun is situated partway between Pluto/Mercury and Uranus/Mars - being sandwiched between those combinations of mad frenetic energy on one side and dark mental depths on the other....well...
that's a true thumbnail sketch if ever I saw one.

mike (again) said...

Twilight, did you notice transits to his natal?

Trans Pluto op Mars-Uranus
Trans Uranus op Neptune
Trans Mars long transit Rx in Libra op Jupiter, conj Neptune, sq Mars-Uranus

The Leo-Aquarius full Moon on Sunday was conjunct his Pluto

Twilight said...

mike ~ I hadn't looked that closely no - but now you mention it, I see those, yes. And all hitting, somewhere, that T-square in his chart. Very intense.

LB said...

Robin William's wife released a statement revealing more details.

Apparently he'd been diagnosed with Parkinson's but hadn't gone public with the diagnosis.

She also made a point of sharing how he died with his sobriety intact.

Twilight said...

LB ~ Oh! What a cruel combination : depression, anxiety, then to be hit with a diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease. Cruel for anyone, especially hard to bear the thought of a slow decline for a guy like Robin Williams, in his situation, at his age. Maybe when a little younger he could, and probably would, have found the will to fight on - on both fronts. So very sad.

Vanilla Rose said...

There's a meme I've seen on Twitter and Facebook. Saying that many of the tabloid newspapers which professed sadness and shock at the death of Mr Williams would soon be back to their familiar tricks of suggesting that depression isn't "real". That benefits claimants or people suing past employers are just faking or malingering.

I wish they were wrong.

Having suffered badly from depression in the past, I have some knowledge of how bad it can get.

I am sorry to hear Mr Williams was diagnosed with Parkinson's. Isn't that what Michael J Fox has? But the diagnosis must be devastating in itself, let alone combined with depression. Everyone is an individual.

On the topic of disability and acting, I will only add that I thought it was ingenious of the late Christopher Reeve (or maybe someone suggested the idea to him, but he followed it through to make the film) to adapt the story of "Rear Window" (where the original protagonist had a broken leg) to become a story where the lead was actually paralysed. If only there was more of this thinking in Hollywood (and wherever the non-Hollywood film people hang out). Then there would be more roles for disabled actors/actresses!

Twilight said...

Vanilla Rose ~ Tabloids are contemptible, even more so here than in the UK I think. At supermarket checkouts there are regularly tabloid magazines with cover headlines that warrant legal proceedings, but craftily skate just outside of that Grrrrr!

Yes Michael J. Fox suffers from Parkinson's. Muhammed Ali too (I think it's not uncommon in boxers though).

Speaking of actors with disabilities, there's Marlee Matlin, who is deaf. I've seen her in a couple of roles.

But such instances are few and far between - I agree that producers, writers, directors ought to encourage inclusion of more such roles.