Dying isn’t fun. Being dead, in all likelihood, is not fun. Someone else’s death, even a pet’s death, is not fun. And yet, and yet playing dead is immensely fun. Fun of such immense immensity that we have managed to immortalize it in games like Ring Around the, you know, Rosy. Rosy, as in if you see a rosy splotch on your bod, and ring, as in if there’s a ring around it, then, ashes is what you’re way to becoming, ashes ashes, and we all ultimately fall, like, down. And, you know, laugh.
And there’s playing dead. You know, just plain playing dead. And pretending to die. That’s the fun of playing Cowboys and Indians (or whatever the more politically correct version might be) – the pretending to die part. Clutching the imaginary arrow as it penetrates your core, falling back into the arms of your fellow defenders, or not, “ya got me,” you moan, foamingly swooning into momentary oblivions. And how about all those shoot-’em-up computer games where the only way figure anything out is by getting killed by something.
And we grow, and still we need to play with death. There’s, for further example, one of my favorite dying games, J’Accuse, and countless Vampire-themed games of death and resurrection. And Mafia and Werewolf. And so very many video games, oh yes.
Like anything else we need to understand, especially when it comes to big, hurting things that are too big, too painful to grasp, death and dying are things we need to play with. Over and over again. Not because we need to understand them. But because it’s the only way we can even begin to accept them as real.