Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Yeah, yeah, the Democrats did very well and Arianna has found somebody who understands what's the matter with Kansas, but what about this business of space burial? On 6th December a rocket will be launched in New Mexico carrying the remains of astronaut Gordon Cooper, 'Gordo' in the The Right Stuff, James Doohan, Scotty in the original Star Trek series, and 177 others. Previously, I discover, Timothy Leary and Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek, have been 'buried' in space. The astronomer Eugene Shoemaker, courtesy of the Lunar Prospector, is the only man buried on the moon. A number of products are available for sending The Loved One screaming into the upper atmosphere and beyond. Space Services - 'a mission of purpose, a commemoration of love, a dream fulfilled, a step into the universe' - offers Earth Return from $495, Earth Orbit from $1,295, Luna Service from $12,500 and the Voyager deep space option, also from $12,500. From Evelyn Waugh's The Loved One and Jessica Mitford's The American Way of Death right through to Six Feet Under, the American fascination with the flashy funeral has been a source both of wonder and disgust. I feel both - disgust because it seems so insanely immodest and wonder because it represents a determination to establish rites for the dead that will console the living, rites that secularity has tended to deny and suppress. Personally, I would be happy to be scattered, like Samuel Beckett's Murphy, on the floor of a pub, but then it won't be my happiness that is the issue. And, of course, Scotty should be in space, fixing that fantastically unreliable warp drive for all eternity.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 6:22 am