That is the title of a short film I wrote, directed and filmed for a film festival, and which was voted 1st place.
The maid in the film tells us about her duties and her thoughts on how people are inherently messy. It is her duty to clean up messes other people create, including the mess of their own deaths. Like Sisyphus, who has to push a rock up a hill for eternity, she must clean other peoples’ lives for what seems an eternity. Her role in society is to hide death from the living. No one is allowed to see death because she is the social force which hides it from them. She tries desperately to cover the death up, to make sure no one has to imagine what it’s like for them to die. There is no subjective experience of death as far as they are concerned, until they experience it ourselves. We wonder what it’s like. And in so doing this, we wonder whether the maid is somehow to blame for these deaths. We’re all complicit in hiding deaths from ourselves, we’re all guilty. Even at funeral festivities we’re more concerned with trivialities like heat and flowers and family than we are concerned about death.
The maid realizes her inauthenticity (like the inauthenticity of Sartre’s waitress) about asking questions about herself and her death. She embraces her mortality, and thinks about understanding and empathizing about her fellowship with these other people who die too. She begins to think as opposed to calculate. She leaves a stage of pre-ontological reflection to a stage of ontological reflection. She begins to live as if close to death, ‘being unto death’. She embraces the death instinct, the enchantment of death, she lives with it, lives beside it.
Death is no longer abstract, it’s no longer a syllogism: All mortals die, I am a mortal, therefore I will die. Real death shakes her out of this. It is something concrete and individual. It is death which makes her into an individual–just as herself, separate–in the face of the possibility that she might not be there when she dies.