Nautilus

Drop-Dead Famous

Death is a universal rite of passage, but, with a single exception, it always happens to someone else. In understanding death we need to turn our gaze to those around us. This was easy when death was a feature of daily life, as it has been for most of human history: on the street, the gallows, or, if at home, among the extended family. But nowadays, in the West, mortality has withdrawn to the private, sanitized space of the hospital ward, and has become all too easy to ignore. Or it would be, if the famous were not there to ensure death stayed squarely in the public eye.

Celebrities have long offered lessons

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from Nautilus

Nautilus6 min read
The Math Trick Behind MP3s, JPEGs, and Homer Simpson’s Face
Over a decade ago, I was sitting in a college math physics course and my professor spelt out an idea that kind of blew my mind. I think it isn’t a stretch to say that this is one of the most widely applicable mathematical discoveries, with applicatio
Nautilus11 min read
Learning Chess at 40: What I learned trying to keep up with my 4-year-old daughter at the royal game.
My 4-year-old daughter and I were deep into a game of checkers one day about three years ago when her eye drifted to a nearby table. There, a black and white board bristled with far more interesting figures, like horses and castles. “What’s that?” sh
Nautilus3 min read
This Famous Aging Researcher Doesn’t Want Us to Live Forever
In the Netflix anime series Knights of Sidonia, humankind is marooned in a spaceship 500,000-strong, refugees constantly on the run from shapeshifting aliens who destroyed Earth over 1,000 years ago. Both the patriarchy and poverty have been smashed.