The work of Chidester explores different types of death, and symbolizes three patterns describing the transcendence of death: ancestral, experiential, and cultural (12). Types of death, and the way death is imagined, can help human beings die in a meaningful way, give life ultimate meaning, and significance (Chidester: 12). The ancestral transcendence represents a type of biological death, meaning this form of transcendence provides a way for the individual to connect with a continuous biological chain of parents and offspring (Chidester: 12). This is significant as the family line is not broken by death; death provides an ongoing continuity of family. The psychological type of death is considered experiential transcendence, and represents "profound and often intense psychological experiences that embrace death in acceptance or ecstasy" (Chidester: 14). Accepting and embracing death signifies death as a psychologically peaceful experience. A third type of death is social, referred to as cultural transcendence, and is considered a form of collective memory that keeps an individual alive as a social person (Chidester: 16). Cultural transcendence is significant as it allows for the commemoration of individuals by keeping their memory in the hearts and minds of the living.
The concept of death, its meaning, and significance have been questioned by humankind long before recorded history. Death is inevitability, and every human being experiences this nature of their own mortality. The concept of death has influenced human history by inspiring a sense of rebirth and mortal urgency, acknowledging the existence of a higher power, and contributed to the unification of society. Understanding who is a human being involves the consideration of biological, psychological, sociological, and religious influences. Differing types of death have given rise to different types of transcendence: ancestral, experiential, and cultural. Each type explores the role of death in the lifespan, and how the individual connects with their mortality. As long as human beings continue to exist, so will their questioning of death, its implications, and meaning. Understanding the human perspective on death requires one to consider multiple points-of-view and biological, psychological, sociological, and religious perspectives.
Chidester, D. Patterns of Transcendence: Religion, Death, and Dying. 2nd ed. Belmont, CA:
Wadsworth Publishing, 2001. 1-36. Print.
The song "Eleanor Rigby" by The Beatles is a song about loneliness, wanting, and hopelessness. The song begins with the lyric, "Ah, look at all the lonely people." The line is repeated twice and gives an obvious nod to the song's theme of loneliness. The song details Eleanor Rigby's life to embellish her loneliness and her longing for a better life. The first line about Eleanor is, "Eleanor Rigby picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been/Lives in a dream." This lyric explains Eleanor throwing rice after a wedding ceremony, and dreams of having her own wedding and belonging. She is alone, and wishes for something more from her life. Eleanor Rigby lives her life in isolation, and this is signified by the lyric, "Waits at the window, wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door/Who is it for?" Eleanor puts on a mask, "wearing a face," so that no one will be able to tell how lonely and empty she feels. The line, "Who is it for?" suggests, "What's the point? Why bother?" There is a sense of hopelessness. The song departs from The Beatles "pop-rock" sound, and has no drums, guitar, or piano accompaniment. The song only uses string instruments, adding to feeling of loneliness. The absence of other instruments allows for the desperation of the strings to be heard, and the isolation of the strings mimics Eleanor Rigby's isolation. A wish that people might have when they die, as suggested by the song, is to not die alone. The lyric, "All the lonely people/Where do they all belong?" suggests, "Where do the lonely people go?" And if no one is witness to their life, how does one know where the lonely people go? According to the song, Eleanor Rigby did not get this common wish. The lyrics states, "Eleanor Rigby died in the church and was buried along with her name/Nobody came." Eleanor Rigby died alone, and no one attended her funeral. The phrase, "was buried along with her name" refers to her being buried with her memory. She was alone in the world, and there is no one left behind to…