Saturday, September 06, 2014

Dear Ms Rivers

I must be the most hypocritical Philosophical Naturalist on the planet. I keep writing open letters to dead people, as if doing so would cause them to send me a reply. (They wouldn't have had the time or the inclination to reply to me when they were alive, what makes me think they'd want to now that they're ...dead?) This seems to have become my go-to method  of dealing with their passing. What ever so slightly disturbs me is that I often don't know these people personally, but they've obviously affected my life enough for me to care about their passing.

Take one Joan Rivers. I've tried not to watch Ms Rivers' show, Fashion Police,  but it was something I couldn't avoid, since my sister's a big fan, and we were sharing one teevee. I know I'm her brother because I also feel the need to cackle evilly at the latest atrocity Ms Rivers's celebrity targets were wearing to their award shows. (Hey, you can't be Pinoy without being a little bakya.)

Despite her kitsch and tackiness in her crusade to mock kitsch and tackiness, there's something to admire about  Joan Rivers. She defied her parents, left home and town to chase her dreams and catch them, hold onto them tightly, with both hands. If this isn't the quintessential American dream story, I don't know what is.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not about parental defiance for its own sake, but if something calls out to you to take a less-trodden path of which your parents may not necessarily approve, it might be worth looking into. (Have I justified people who want careers in what the Sims games call the "Criminal Career Track?" I hope not.)

What she and Ricardo Montalban, Robin Williams, Carl Sagan, and all these other dead people have in common is that they were symbols of normality for me. A kind of safety. Bombs may go off, floods may claim lives and property, but knowing that Robin Williams was making a movie, or that Khan was still around selling stones embedded in rosaries (or that our Joan Rivers was still cackling on the teevee) would make me feel as if there'd be another day. I dread thinking about what I'd think the world would be like if Captain Ham himself suddenly died by way of a stroke or heart attack-- or because someone dropped a bridge on him.

Their passing shakes up my status quo and reminds me all the more that life is short and that my number may be up sooner than I would want.

(So please finish your comics and stories, Dex.)

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