On Human Dignity

Hollywood will never get it right. On one level, the ego dictates that we all live with the delusion of being the good guy when in fact there are no good guys; and never were. On another level there are countless things in life that simply cannot be depicted or conveyed cinematically. With only rare exception, Hollywood butchers the written word. Movie makers take a novel that might take hours or even days to read and reduces it all into 90 minutes of film sequence. The intangibles of life cannot be photographed. Only words can convey the unseen.

The Godfather, by Mario Puzo, was published in 1969; but filmed in 1972. I read the book long before the movie was ever made. Most Hollywood movies are based upon previously published written works. In making comparisons between the two, or just to deepen one’s understanding of a film, I recommend that one should always read the book first, then see the movie. Invariably, in converting the story to film, scads of minute details and nuances are lost.

In the book, Mr. Puzo describes the garroting of the character Carlo Rizzi from the back seat of a car by Clemenza. The author informs the reader of a detail that, up to that point in my life, was unknown to me. When the victim dies his anal sphincter relaxes and he voids his bowels. The assassin then rolls down the window to find some relief from the excretory stench. To anyone who only saw the movie, this detail would be entirely lost.

This is not common knowledge, I suppose, and known to only a few professions: mortuary workers or Emergency Room doctors and nurses, perhaps.

(Always wear clean underwear in case you have an accident; so long as it’s non-fatal.)

The last thing we do in this life is shit ourselves? How undignified! We all wish to maintain at least a superficial sense of dignity – to be respectable if not respected. But life conspires against us at every turn. Dignity eludes us all. There is no dignity.

In pondering this, I considered the neonate (the newborn child). Aside from drawing our first breath, (with or without crying); our first official physical act as a living human being is to shit ourselves. So:

The first thing we do in this life is shit ourselves.

The last thing we do in this life is shit ourselves.

And there is no dignity in between.

James Perry Death

No Dignity at All

About The Twentieth Man

Age 69
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