Forever Empty: Zadie Smith on Death and Art / by Lars Garvey Laing-Peterson

...death is what happens to everyone else. By contrast, the future in which I am dead is not a future at all. It has no reality. If it did—if I truly believed that being a corpse was not only a possible future but my only guaranteed future—I’d do all kinds of things differently. I’d get rid of my iPhone, for starters. Lead a different sort of life.

If you've ever stared out the window and become lost in a wintry veil of grey, and for whatever reason knew—really knew—that you were going to one day die, would one day simply not be, then Zadie Smith's wonderful essay "Man vs. Corpse" is right up your alley.

 Andy Warhol,  Burning White Car III

Andy Warhol, Burning White Car III

And if you haven't had that terrible, shadowy realization, or haven't for some time, I still recommend giving Zadie's work a read. As always, the writing is wonderful, and there are few things I enjoy more than traversing the world as she sees it—her thoughtful, quietly tragic perspective and appreciation of life, beautifully segmented into vignettes, ones you could almost imagine Ingmar Bergman (somehow) presenting in film.

It doesn't hurt that she quotes from Louis CK at the end—a lacerating bit of humor, one I remember laughing at, and then pausing, and then having that moment, that "bit," follow me for some time. Still to this day. And the way she weaves Louis CK's work in with Luca Signorelli's and Andy Warhol's art, with Karl Ove Knaussgard's writing—as well as with talk of iPhones and marriage and children and dinner parties, with life (at least as some of us know or can imagine it)—is testament to her brilliance as a writer and essayist. Her work stays with you, not in a haunting sense, but the way certain films and novels stay with you—never too far out of reach, echoing back to us at strange, yet exactly the right moments.