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From the Editor

At the Johnson Society last week we talked about death, a gloomy subject you might say. We reminded ourselves that Dr. Johnson was terrified by the thought of being consigned to eternal torment but that he would have preferred even that to cessation of being. Nothing, in his mind, could be as bad as simply not existing in any form. I don't think we broke any new ground but, still, we had interesting conversation. Before I went I had jotted this note to myself in my little pocket notebook:

"What do I think of death? I think, all in all, it's a bad thing. Or perhaps it would be more precise
to say it comes on us now too soon -- before we have completed our explorations. Would it be
any different if we could add fifty years to our life spans? I don't know."

Generally, I would rather put my mind to thwarting death rather than to coming to grips with it. But I know many have believed that resolving our thoughts about it is one of life's basic tasks. I'd like to hear from any of you if you have any conclusions on the subject.

I read an article in The Nation by Cynthia Enloe titled "Macho, Macho Military" where she offers her thoughts about "gender-coded militaristic rituals," speculating about such question as why war planes fly over stadiums before big football games. I agreed only partially with her thesis, but, still, it was a diverting article. And it did put me in mind of some of the topics we had discussed at the Johnson Society. It may be that fascination with death, or, at least, ushering other people into death is more common among men than among women. What do you think about that?



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