A lot of bloggers were talking about rainbows and sunshine and positivity in the aftermath of the news of Apple CEO Steve Jobs passing yesterday. It got me thinking about Tom McCarthy’s International Necronautical Society, and our perception of death in the first instance.
Established in 1999, the International Necronautical Society are concerned with ‘surfing the void’ and exploring the conceptual ‘space’ occupied by death.
The First Manifesto (below) was first printed in The Times newspaper in 1999 and is a hopeful interpretation of that which many of us fear the most: the unknown depths of death and dying.
Is the End indeed the beginning?
We, the First Committee of the International Necronautical Society, declare the following:
1. That death is a type of space, which we intend to map, enter, colonise and, eventually, inhabit.
2. That there is no beauty without death, its immanence. We shall sing death’s beauty — that is, beauty.
3. That we shall take it upon us, as our task, to bring death out into the world. We will chart all its forms and media: in literature and art, where it is most apparent; also in science and culture, where it lurks submerged but no less potent for the obfuscation. We shall attempt to tap into its frequencies — by radio, the internet and all sites where its processes and avatars are active. In the quotidian, to no smaller a degree, death moves: in traffic accidents both realised and narrowly avoided; in hearses and undertakers’ shops, in florists’ wreaths, in butchers’ fridges and in dustbins of decaying produce. Death moves in our appartments, through our television screens, the wires and plumbing in our walls, our dreams. Our very bodies are no more than vehicles carrying us ineluctably towards death. We are all necronauts, always, already.
4. Our ultimate aim shall be the construction of a craft* that will convey us into death in such a way that we may, if not live, then at least persist. With famine, war, disease and asteroid impact threatening to greatly speed up the universal passage towards oblivion, mankind’s sole chance of survival lies in its ability, as yet unsynthesised, to die in new, imaginative ways. Let us deliver ourselves over utterly to death, not in desperation but rigorously, creatively, eyes and mouths wide open so that they may be filled from the deep wells of the Unknown.
* Note: This term must be understood in the most versatile way possible. It could designate a set of practices, such as the usurpation of identities and personae of dead people, the development of specially adapted genetic or semantic codes based on the meticulous gathering of data pertaining to certain and specific deaths, the rehabilitation of sacrifice as an accepted social ritual, the perfection, patenting and eventual widespread distribution of Thanadrine™, or, indeed, the building of an actual craft — all of the above being projects currently before the First Committee.