One of the greatest scandals of the lockdown period was, and still is, the impossibility to accompany our loved ones in their last moments, and in some countries, to even attend their funerals. Everyone has promised to do everything possible to ensure that it does not happen again, so that this essential moment in human relationships is never forgotten again.
It is, however, likely that making this agony disappear is not an accidental phenomenon, a parenthesis in human history. On the contrary, it is one more step in a staggering, implacable mutation, which comes from very far away and has hallucinating consequences.
We have seen it in other matters, such as working remotely: this odd period has proven to be an accelerator of an ongoing evolution. The same will undoubtedly be true in our relationship with death.
A social structure is neither legitimate nor sustainable if it does not give or impose a meaning to death: such meaning has been religious, military, social, medical, and scientific. Today, these meanings are no longer sufficient. Death has revealed itself for what it is—like life—to be an unknowable enigma. As such, faced with the difficulty of giving meaning to death, and the even greater difficulty of accepting that it does not have one, our societies have recently chosen, little by little, surreptitiously, to camouflage death: we no longer die at home, we no longer talk about dead people, or about death. Everything is done to avoid having to think about our own death and that of others, to avoid seeing the spectacle of death and forget our elders in nursing homes. To distract ourselves at every moment of life, without ever having a moment of solitude and reflection.
We deny death; and we only accept the spectacle of death for famous people, victims of spectacular accidents, acts of terrorism, or military operations.
What happened during the lockdown may not have been a scandalous break with an irenic front, but an advanced version of the erasure of death and the dying, which has been at work for a long time.
If such evolution is confirmed and goes further, as soon as someone is considered irreversibly lost, they will be isolated, removed from the world of the living and accompanied by professionals toward death. And since the dead will have to be kept away from the living, their ashes will be stored in general crematoria, initially open to family visits, and eventually no longer open to them. The disarticulation of the families, the obsession with the moment, selfishness, self-cult, indifference to the past will find their paroxysm there.
For those who, having concealed the death of their loved ones, will want to keep a living image of their deceased loved ones by absolutely denying death, a new market will appear, and it is already rearing its head: the virtual shaping of the disappeared will be sold to the living. It will be possible because of the data accumulated in their conversations, photographs, videos and writings, which are analysed by increasingly efficient artificial intelligence, the dead will be able to continue to answer their e-mails and send messages on social networks. A little later, in not too long, the dead will even lead a virtual life, in the form of holograms, thus participating in the life of the living; at first in a subtle way, then in a more and more sophisticated manner.
It will be funded by those among the living who will want to maintain the presence of their loved ones; or by the deceased themselves, who will have devoted a large part of their fortune to foundations, whose unique function will be to maintain the virtual presence of their creators in the world to come.
Management of the after-life will become an economic sector in its own right; the deceased will become a commercial item among others. For some, life will be spent preparing for the after-life; by transmitting their data to a hologram; in a debauchery of energy consumption.
A nightmare? Perhaps. Perspective hidden in the depths of reality. Certainly.
Refusing to admit it or the act of considering this scenario as improbable is to participate in the disappearance of death and denying what it can lead to, which makes it even more difficult to prevent it.
The time has come to find out whether this is what we want to do with humanity. There is still time to refuse it, to prioritize our life, lived here and now, before that of the hologram of ourselves; to reject the illusion of narcissism and choose the transmission of hope.