Don DeLillo on Modern Death

An excerpt from the novel, White Noise
Photograph by romanlily on Flickr.com

Murray Jay Siskind, a character from Don DeLillo's White Noise, ruminates on changing attitudes toward death and dying:
“‘This is the nature of modern death,’ Murray said. ‘It has a life independent of us. It is growing in prestige and dimension. It has a sweep it never had before. We study it objectively. We can predict its appearance, trace its path in the body. We can take cross-section pictures of it, tape its tremors and waves. We’ve never been so close to it, so familiar with its habits and attitudes. We know it intimately. But it continues to grow, to acquire breadth and scope, new outlets, new passages and means. The more we learn, the more it grows, Is this some law of physics? Every advance in knowledge and technique is matched by a new kind of death, a new strain. Death adapts, like a viral agent. Is it a law of nature? Or some private superstition of mine? I sense that the dead are closer to us than ever. I sense that we inhabit the same air as the dead. Remember Lao Tse. “There is no difference between the quick and the dead. They are one channel of vitality.” He said this six hundred years before Christ. It is true once again, perhaps more true than ever.’”

Don DeLillo, White Noise
Also at A Piece of Monologue: