“No industry in living memory has collapsed faster than daily print journalism,” he suggests. “You can still buy a buggy whip, which is more than can be said for a copy of the Rocky Mountain News, Cincinnati Post, or Seattle Post-Intelligencer.”
What’s needed, he suggests, is a new kind of feature: “What I propose is “Pre-Obituaries”—official notices that certain people aren’t dead yet accompanied by brief summaries of their lives indicating why we wish they were. The main advantage of the Pre-Obit over the traditional obituary is the knowledge of reader and writer alike that the as-good-as-dead people are still around to have their feelings hurt.”
In that spirit, O’Rourke goes on to give us belated post-departure obits of iconic figures from Salinger to Ted Kennedy, Jimmy Carter and John Kenneth Galbraith, as well as to proffer still-living candidates worthy of pre-obits.
* AUTO-OBITS. Whatever. In the increasingly solipsistic, often narcissistic world of the Web and social networking, I believe we should go beyond O’Rourke’s vision to auto-obits. That’s right—we compose our own obituaries as we proceed towards our exit from this vale of sorrows. The way things are going, everybody’s soon going to be a writer, authors one and all, but the question will often remain: What to write about?
That’s where the auto-obit comes in. Just write about what a great guy you are.
JACK SHACKAWAY HAS BEEN A GREAT GUY!
I, for one, am going to write my own obituary, the way I’d want to be remembered. This route is loaded with potential for elevated self-esteem and suchlike, all without the dreary need to do anything else to merit the world’s admiration. At the least, I can be remembered as a writer of obituaries par excellence. If I have any time left over, I can write a book: What to Do with Your Blog. (Check it out. Read that aloud—does it evoke a ghostly subtitle for you?)
Everybody a writer; everyone a blogger. Auto-obits our default program. Spin doctors seeking to heal ourselves, spinning the lives we would have wanted to live had we not whiled the buggers away blogging about our lives.
The way I’m doing at the moment. I think I’ll go out, now, and drink red wine in the midday tropical sun. Yeah, that’s what I’m gonna do. Stay posted for another book by yours truly: Creative Self-destruction: Why You Should Do Everything Your Momma Said You Shouldn’t.