Dis­so­lu­tion and ex­tinc­tion

Malta Independent - - LETTERS -

We of­ten read in obit­u­ar­ies that so-and-so went to his “eter­nal rest”.

“Rest! No, not for an in­stant!” wrote Sir Henry Thomp­son, an em­i­nent sur­geon and one of the first to pi­o­neer the idea of cre­ma­tion as an al­ter­na­tive to burial.

“Never was there greater ac­tiv­ity than at this mo­ment ex­ists in that still corpse. Al­ready a thou­sand changes have com­menced. Forces in­nu­mer­able have at­tacked the dead... Nature’s cease­less agents are now at full work” (A.N. Wil­son, The Vic­to­ri­ans).

Thomp­son went into graphic de­tail about the pu­tres­cent de­cay of the body, and pro­posed the sub­sti­tu­tion of a fur­nace, cheap and hy­gienic.

The dis­so­lu­tion of the body is fol­lowed by “the sure ex­tinc­tion that we travel to and shall be lost in al­ways. Not to be here, not to be any­where – and soon. Noth­ing more ter­ri­ble, noth­ing more true” (Philip Larkin, Aubade).

John Guil­lau­mier St Ju­lian’s

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