Essay by Prof. Hiroi Published in the 2/16/18 Edition of the Kyoto Shimbun Newspaper as Part of its "Contemporary Words" Series
In his essay “Gradations Between Life and Death”, Professor Yoshinori Hiroi proposes that, given the increase of dementia among the elderly, life and death might not be as clearly distinct from one another as they may seem. The so called “gradual transition from life to death” has recently gained increasing recognition. However, there is also a world view prevalent today that holds that “reality is merely a shared dream seen by brains.” Prof. Hiroi talks about boundaries between “dream and reality”, and “presence and absence” becoming more ambiguous, and how this has resulted in more people having a new perspective on life and death that contains the elements of “ancient futures”.
Prof. Yoshinori Hiroi, KRC
My mother (86 years old) has shown more symptoms of dementia recently since she closed her store in Okayama she ran for many decades. She asks where her husband (my father) is now, and why he hasn’t returned, who passed away eight years ago.
Hearing those words from her, I get the impression as if she has one foot in a “dream world”.
Additionally, life and death might not be as clearly distinct from one another as they may seem. There is a degree of gradation between them; it is a continuum ranging from very light to very dark. I sometimes think that she is in the middle of it…
A contemporary view of life and death is that they are clearly distinct, “life=presence, death=absence” and death is outside our field of vision. However, by considering life and death as a continuum, I wonder if we can bring death back to this world and connect the two.
(Excerpt from Kyoto Shimbun 2/16/18)