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From the great hall of the Cooper Union in New York City, National Educational Radio presents a lecture entitled, What is Death? This lecture was recorded for broadcast by station WNYC. Now, to introduce the speakers, here is the Chairman of the Cooper Union Forum Series, Dr. Johnson E. Fairchild. Now, you know, this might be the kiss of death. This might be the death of the program. This might be the we hope not, but in any event we are going to talk a little bit about this this evening. And we have two very fine men here, Dr. Clark Miller and Dr. Manuel K. Schwartz. Neither of them are strangers to you. They have appeared here in the
Cooper Union on X number of times. And they're both very fine, very good, very well-qualified men. And I'm very happy that they are here to help us tonight with this very tough problem. You know, several years ago, for example, I tried to have a whole program on death and collapse of human beings. And nobody would come speak on it. Something that was terrifying to a large number of people. And nobody seemed to like the idea that they were going to die. And nobody seemed to like the idea that they should talk about it. I even had an undertaker lined up in a Catholic priest even I went that far. I even had a Catholic priest lined up, you know. And the whole series of people and undertakers and whatnot. And nobody would talk about death.
But, you know, as an honest fact, we all died daily. Maybe you didn't know that. We died a little bit. I put my shirt on backward today, apparently, according to my wife, but in an event. I put my shirt on backward. And that was a small bit of death for me. But as a matter of honest fact, from the day we are born, we live to die. This is not a happy thought. And I appreciate it as not because I don't like it anymore than you do. Because I assume it applies to me as well as to everybody else.
On the other hand, if it can be accepted, I think the word I was used properly just a few minutes ago, if this thing can be accepted and if we can grow into it, then I think we have made a great transition. After Miller and Dr. Schwartz are very fine men in the field. This is not necessarily their field incidentally. I don't want you to label them as tokens of death or anything like that. Because both men are actually far from that. They are very lively and very happy and very good people, as I am. So that I just wanted you to know, though, that this problem is something that has to do with psychology and psychiatry in our life and our continuation of how we go in general.
Although the COPA union forum is not stopping tonight, we are going on. You will all get brochures of the mail for the next session. So don't worry about that item. So we are not talking about death and finality. We are talking about that sort of thing which individuals have to look forward to in this day. How about that Dr. Miller? All right. Well, go ahead. All right. Thank you, Professor Fairchild. All you stalwart souls who are out tonight like this, I think you deserve an anecdote. I spent the summer in Ireland this year and the folks in Ireland are very big on death. One of their national songs concerned the lad who had a smile on his face as he was going off to the gallows.
And as you know, one of the more popular kinds of humor is gallows humor. So it seems this lad was due to be executed as they are want to do in Ireland. We're from 20 years ago. And he was talking to his guard as the sun came up. He says, guard, he says, I haven't had my breakfast. The guy says, really, I can't do a thing about it lad. He says, my job is to see that you're down to skate. So about that time the chaplain came down very solemn, carrying his missile. And so the lad says to the chaplain says, I didn't have my breakfast. And he says, I'm here to look after you're a Marshall soul lad. I can't do anything about that.
He finally got out to the gallows and he says to the hangry, he says, you can't hang me. I haven't had my breakfast. He says, lad, I'm just here to see you don't get dinner. So that's why we're here to see you don't get dinner tonight. So let's talk about death a little bit, shall we? And I think if you're going to talk about death, you can't just think about people. We're kind of egocentric and we like to think about ourselves dying since we're such magnificent specimens. Why it's really a tragedy. But if you think about it, why there's a whole big world out there. And there are plants and there are animals and there's flora and fauna. And death is a very integral part of that scene as well. Now I'm an organic gardener. And so I like to see death as being the flip side of life.
And life may be a little more noisy and a little more of a folk rock number. But death is always on the flip side. So as an organic gardener, I have an excellent opportunity to see the necessity for both hands. I have some 20,000 earthworms. I didn't count them but that's what the man said who sold them to me. And they helped me with the death side of the cycle. And I feed these worms all the dead material I can scrape together. They'll take leaves or they'll take manure or they'll take grass clippings and they love meat. And it says, we're meat. Why this is a, they find us particularly attractive. And they do a magnificent job of cleaning the bones. They leave them pearly white. When they finish with the bone there is nothing left on them. Now after they finish with this dead material, they make what is called castings. And these castings are the plant food. And this has all the soluble nutrients in them for the tomato plants next year.
Now that's the summer side. That's the life side of the cycle. So if it's any comfort to you why death is an indispensable part in the continuum. And if there is no compost heap this winter, why there's not going to be any garden next summer. So life may be more acceptable to us but it's only half the picture. I was thinking as I was walking down park avenue this morning, how neat and orderly death is. I started tiptoeing and stepping around the dog manure as I was walking down the avenue. And you know when you think about it, life is pretty messy. Life is smelly. Life is unpredictable and life is sometimes painful. But my compost heap is nice and orderless and it stays right where I put it. And it's warm and cozy under the snow. And a complimentary view on this thing is echoed in the old expression that God is frivolous and unpredictable.
It's the devil who is solemn. So I mean life is on the flip side of death. No, I think poets and playwrights and humorous frequently discuss matters much more profoundly and much more extensively than psychologists and psychiatrists do. And I always turn to the poets to try to get a little illumination from the murky stuff that I come across. And I came across some stuff from John Dryden. He's an old timer. And he wrote a play called edifice. We usually think of the Greek play edifice. I didn't even know that Dryden wrote a play called edifice, but he was talking in there about an old fella. And he says, of no distemper and of no blast he died, but felt like autumn fruit that mellowed long. Even wonder that because he dropped no sooner. Fates seem to wind him up for four score years.
Yet freshly ran he on. Ten winners more. Till like a clock worn out with eating time. The wheels of weary life at last stood still. Which I think is a kind of a poetic way of seeing death. And since we need some ways of looking at it, I think the poets now bring some more as we go along. Now, I noticed when I got the brochure that the topic is, what is death? Well, I think that's kind of tough to work with. And I'd prefer to turn around and say, what is dying? I think dying is more of a process kind of thing. Death is a static phenomenon. So dying is more workable. Now, if we view life as an oxidation process, look at the physical side of it first. Physical side of dying. Now, if life is a complex oxidation process, then we can view physical dying as the final stage of the process.
You recall they play a thousand clowns. They made it into a movie, Jason Robards. You know where he says everybody on stage for the Hawaiian number? I mean, this is what death is. Death is the finale. Death is the reprieve. Death is when you get everything together and you make it tie it all together. Now, again, the physical fact of dying. Dying is the fact is the finale to life, the finale gets to a fire going out. And if we recognize that there are three requirements for a fire, say combustible material, and a kingling temperature, an oxygen, then we can see the physical death as equivalent to a fire being extinguished. And consequently, the question of what happens to a person after death is just as pertinent and susceptible to answered as the question, where does a fire go when it's out? Well, that's physical death. Now let's leave that. That's easily dealt with. But dying as a symbol, that's a much more complicated matter.
And death can symbolize multitude of things. If we went around and asked every person here what death is, we'd get as many answers as there are people. And since we live in this culture, why most of the answers would be scary? Now, death has been called a blessing. It's been called the Old Man's Friend. It's also been called a curse. It's been seen as a cop-out, particularly if somebody we don't like. And let's say, like Gary, who takes the capsule of strictness. Well, that's a cop-out. He didn't stay around for the bitter end. And it's also been seen as the moment of truth. And death has been alluded to as the great problem-solver. And it's also been regarded as the beginning of eternal life. And I can assure you that Dr. Schwartz and myself are believers in life before death.
I don't think you'll pin us down on life after death, but we're firm believers in life before death. So, I told you about being the subject of Gallo's humor. And another little story comes to mind here that I might tell you about Spull of Harry was an eternal optimist. And so, the boys at the club decided they were going to fix it. They were going to really take care of it once and for all. They were going to concoct such a grim story that Harry would always say it could have been worse whenever you tell him anything. He always said it could have been worse. So, they decided they could concoct such a terrible story that he just would be unable to say this. And he saw that, naturally, they chose death as being the ultimate subject. I mean, this is the worst thing that can happen.
So, Harry came in and he says, Harry, did you hear what happened to George? He says, no, what? Well, George came home. He found his wife in bed with another man. He shot her. He shot him. And then he turned the gun and killed himself. Harry thought for a minute. He says, well, it could have been worse. He says, how, in God's name, could it have been worse? He says, well, if it had happened the night before last, I'd be dead. Thank you, Jenny. Now, novelists frequently deal with the topic of death, too. And the old novels, before they got up to sex machines and things like that, love machines, they used to have a philosophical player to them. And my favorite novel, I think one of the few novels I ever read, as a matter of fact, is Tom Jones.
And there's a, in addition to the body passages, there's also a classic approach to death in there. If you recall, Mr. Allworthy. He was the hero of the piece. He was desperately ill. And Tom came to his bedside. He was destroyed. And about that time, Mr. Allworthy roused out of his coma and pointed out to Tom. He says, Tom, we all have to leave the party at six o'clock. I'm just leaving a little early. So why are you so upset? You know, this consoled Tom and made him see dying in a new perspective. And as you'll recall, after that, Mr. Allworthy then recovered and returned to enjoy the party for a while longer. Hemingway is another writer who once said that death is the end of life. And any author who keeps you from that is not worth his soul. Now, many authors are not so flat-footed in their approach to the subject. And it is well known that plays that deal with death are seldom, seldom do well on Broadway.
So I work with people, I see a lot of people, I've seen over the years, who has the most trouble with dying? Well, in my opinion, in my experience, it seems to the people, to be the people who have never been ready for any life transition. In other words, these people weren't ready to be born. They were overdue. When they were born, they weren't ready to nurse. They had to be stimulated to get them to nurse. And after they got them nursing they weren't ready to go on solid foods. And after they got them on solid foods they weren't ready to be wean. And after they finally got them wean they weren't ready to be toilet trained. And after they finally got them toilet trained they weren't ready to be left with the babysitter.
And they weren't ready to have a haircut. They weren't ready to go to school. When they got to school, they weren't ready to read. And when they learned to read, they weren't ready to take an examination. And socially, they weren't ready to go to birthday parties. They weren't ready to be in a school play. They weren't ready to go to high school. They weren't ready to date. They weren't ready to get a driver's license. They weren't ready to go to work. They weren't ready to get married. They weren't ready to have children if they did get married. They weren't ready to retire when that came around. And true to form, they weren't ready to die. Okay, so who has the easiest time with dying?
Well, it seems to me that the person who has met every other life epoch in a capable, resourceful, imaginative, wholehearted way. One of my colleagues used to compare life to a football game. And he maintained that if you've played all four quarters and you've been a vigorous, enthusiastic participant and you've gotten knocked around, you're not sorry to see the game come to an end, even if you didn't win. However, if you were sitting on the bench the whole time, then the conclusion of the game means that you're not going to get in. And this is what they call existential guilt. This is what the philosophers talk about. It's the summed up in the expression, I can't forgive myself because I didn't even try. That's what's tough to die with. Now, how much time do we have? A lot of time.
A minute. A minute. What do you want? You want so much? I've got about a six or eight courage. All right, then come back to it, right? We have come back. I hope you're back. Talk about the way he's got to be. Are you trying to get him to die? I have a lot more material here, but let's just tie it up for the moment before we hear Dr. Schwartz. And I'm sure we'll have some rebuttal here. He and I are noted for making the blood flow and we tangle in our encounters, least on the podium, right? So what's the role of the psychiatrist in dying? Well, my feeling is that I'm a shrink. And most of the people I see have some very grandiose estimates of themselves. And these grandiose estimates are very disabling. And as I see it, my job as a psychiatrist
is to be an enabler. To provide the people I see with some enabling concepts so they can get on with the business of living and the finale of living, which is dying. So it's my job to provide my patients with some enabling concepts to replace the disabling ones that they acquired the first time around them. And in our day and age, almost the whole culture is phobic about death. And as the job of the therapist then to work through this phobia, just as he would work through any other inhibition that interferes with the process of living. And the ultimate job then is to create a total impression that death is not a tragedy, but simply an intrinsic part of the complex process of living. Thank you. Thank you. Well, all right. And now here we have our brilliant and wonderful doctor Manuel King Sports.
Greetings, ladies and gentlemen. I had some other thoughts before I came here, but listening to the presentations and make jokes, I want to change my approach a little bit. There is a novel. It isn't a great novel, but it reads fast and furiously. And I'm sure some of you have read it. It's a long one. I always resent long-winded novels. I resent it because I always feel that you know, they're taking your time and time is related and time is related to life. And it's very important. This novel is called The Godfather by Pozo. Now, if you haven't read The Godfather, you might read it for fun. It'll keep you awake at night if you intend to want to go to sleep or you want to stay awake
because it's exciting. And it's the story of The Godfather who is the done of a mafia group. He's the head of a mafia family back in the 30s in New York when there were mafia wars and gang wars in the 20s and 30s in New York. And I must say that I think that there must be some factual basis to this story, although it's highly fictionalized. And the done is the head of probably the most powerful clan, real mafia, so, and he's called The Godfather because he's the man you come to for help whenever you need it. He's the man that gives you favors and hopes to win your friendship because ultimately he will ask favors of you. Well, Don Corleone miscalculated one of the guys who tried to muscle in on his territory. And what happened was that he got shot
and almost got killed. He was a fast pepper and he died to the bullets and he almost got killed. Now, the done had an interesting idea. He saved his conscience. Anytime he killed somebody who muscleed in, he would say, it's nothing personal. It's only business. It's nothing personal in it. Anytime somebody in his family or his outfit or is one of his copillary GMAs got shot at, it's nothing personal. It's only business. There's nothing personal. But there was one son that the done had who never wanted to get mixed up with the mafia. He wanted to play it straight. He was going to become a mathematician. He went into the World War II. And he never wanted to have anything to do with the family gangsterism. And he never touched the gun since he left the army. He was a decent guy and all the rest. And although everybody said,
it was nothing personal by that shooting the done and putting five bullets in him. He was now at that store. Michael says, what do you mean by this crap? Nothing personal. It's only business. If somebody shoots my father, that's personal. If somebody shoots me, that's personal. Now I heard, Claude say earlier, that death is not a tragedy. It depends upon to whom death comes. If it happens to you, it's not a tragedy. But believe me, if it happens to me, it's a tragedy. I'm concerned about our kidding ourselves into believing that we can talk about death in general. I think we've got to talk about death in terms of about whom are we talking as dying. Now it may be perfectly true
that we've got to become reconciled to death because it's part of life. It's a part of the experience of living. Although that's not the way I see it. I'll get back to it. But I want you to know that as far as I am concerned, as far as I am concerned, it is always a tragedy to have to die. Younger old, always a tragedy. Because I have a feeling that the purpose of life is not to die. The purpose of life is to stave off time as long as possible. That the function of living every day is to stave off time. It's to stave off death as long as possible. And if we don't turn our shoulders the wheel to that end, I think we're not going to live. We live because we want to live, not that we want to prepare to die. Some people don't live because they're always preparing for death. They cut a finger.
They're worried about it. They bleed a little bit here, there. I think one of the most important aspects of the problem of living and dying is the whole question of, for whom does the bell tell? This is the Hemingway story. This was the question that Claude Melis suggests that we think about for whom does the bell tell? It's very important for us to understand that we are much more put out by somebody dying. We're angry if somebody dies and nobody escapes somebody dying in his lifetime. Nobody escapes it. Death comes very close to us and we're all frightened of it. There is probably no more threatening experience than the experience of death. First because nobody can experience it if you tell us about it. Once it happens to us, we're no longer there to report back.
There's no feedback. And is this great unknown quality about it so that we're all frightened because we all want to live. I think survival necessity is the primary drive in life, the wish to survive. And since we all somehow know that survival is not forever, we do all kinds of tricks in order to avoid knowing, avoid facing, that is for me too. The wish for immortality in my estimation, the wish for immortality, not the wish to die, but the wish to be forever. And the live forever is probably one of the primary motivations for living and experiencing and doing the kinds of things we do. In other words, I have a feeling, Claude, maybe I'm wrong and I'd like to argue this out with you. I have a feeling that a piece of omnipotence is necessary in order for us to live into a joy life. Now we need to believe somehow I can transcend it.
It's going to happen to you and you and you, but not to me. In fact, I have a hunch that we wouldn't go to war, none of us if we thought it could happen us. I think the reason why we go to wars because we're convinced the other guy is going to get it, not me. Now I'm not suggesting, therefore, that we've got to be only omnipotent. I said a little piece of it because I think it has to be tempered with reality. The reality is, of course, that death is going to come a call into all of us. But I think we need ways and means for coping with this threat, with this great anxiety. For example, Freud's castration anxiety might very well be translated into the fear of death. That's the ultimate castration is to die, the ultimate end of life. So that what I'm suggesting is
that all of us find ways and means are trying to deny that it will happen to us. We join churches and organizations which guarantee us a place in heaven. That's what we do. We join a church that says, if you will be a believer, I promise you, you will live just the way you are except for a slightly younger version. Or you know there are Orthodox Jews for example in Israel who still believe you must not perform an autopsy on a dead person on the cause. Why? Because you keep it intact. It goes one day the Messiah is going to come along and say, stand up. Can you make a bit of a form and autopsy or a piece of fall apart? I mean, I'll be missing organs and so on. This is the idea that even immortality is going to happen, very primitive, very magical, that immortality will come to us in the form that we are now. Just as I am now,
again, no change as you pointed out. We don't believe in change. We resist change, except that I will be younger, not as old as I am by dying out because I'm going to go back to heaven and see sit here and go on forever. Now there are other ways that we try to prove that we are immortal. Not only by joining churches, there are those of us who go and see mediums. We go see psychics who put us in touch with those who have gone. Because if we can get in touch with those who are gone and dead, then we can believe that they survive some place. And if they can survive some place open eye, the whole parasite ecology movement is based upon the idea that if you can prove that it is possible to communicate with somebody at a distance and transcend the limits of time, space in the material universe, then we know that the soul exists and therefore there is something immaterial, something immortal in man.
There's another way in which we try to transcend death. There are some people who are monument builders. They spend their lives building monuments. They put a monument up in the corner of the house of building a library. This is the Cooper Union. There was a man named Cooper, it wasn't there. And this is a monument to Cooper so he lived forever in this building. So he built monuments. But Duke University. Like Duke University. Like all other kinds of things. Like Lincoln Memorial, or like Grants too. We build monuments to keep them alive. Sometimes we build it for ourselves. Sometimes you get our friends to build it for us. Sometimes these are not buildings. Sometimes these are our productions, our paintings, our writings, our books. These are monuments to preserve our image forever before the world. We make important contributions
so we will be remembered. And sometimes we not only have these material and dead monuments. We create living monuments. Living memorials to ourselves in the form of children. In the form of children. We say we go on forever if not in ourselves in our children. Therefore what? We kill the children and then we'll end it all. How does a person kill his own child? Badad children. The badad child sin. The whole effort to want to survive is close against the brain. You should want to kill this child. Because it is a piece of you that is going to survive. Now then there are those who believe that you survive through your children by means of your fortune, by means of your name, by means of your genes, your blood. You know, that was the whole idea of heredity in nobility.
The king had some children of a born in the blue room. They had his blood and they were a royal stock. But if you were born in the green room, you didn't have his blood. So you were not royal blood. I mean, it depends upon the color of the blood and the room. But others say, others say you continue in in mortality through your children. By virtue of the personality, by virtue of the influence you have, by virtue of the values that teach you, the memories that they will carry on for you. Now I think that there are many other ways that you can think of ways that you yourself have tried to survive. People plan trees, people mass fortunes, people found foundations, all kinds of things. You do all kinds of tricks yourself. All of these are dedicated to perpetuate the notion that you will go on, that you will be immortal. The fact is that you as you will not go on forever.
You as you, so far as we know, will not go on forever. I better be careful. I better be careful. I may wind up in hell, boy, and that would be tough. You know what they tell the story about? They tell the story about a guy who went to heaven and said, or died, they went to heaven and the St. Peter said, which you want to go to heaven and hell? And he said, I don't know. I'd like to take a look. You mind if I visit the places and decide? So St. Peter said, why not? So he took him to heaven and opened the door and he looked in and there were a bunch of old fogies sitting around singing hymns, sitting around in the most dull, dreary, moral, unfun place in the world. And he closed the doors. Well, let me see the other place. Took him down a hell and he opened the door and there was everybody jumping and jiving and there was all kinds of sex going on, all kinds of music and fun.
Now, having big feasts. No, I don't want to have a ball. And he said, St. Peter, that's the place for me. He said, come on up and we'll write you in. He said, we'll register again. Back to the desk and he registered in and he says, I want to go to that place called hell. He's fine and registered and gave his pass and gone. He went back to the door to go in. He opened the door. When he opened the door and looked in, there was everybody screaming in anguish and pain. It was a purgatory hell. It was inferno with fire. And everybody was in great, great struggle with pain and he closed the door and he ran back. He said, hey, that's not the place. He says, yes, that's the same place. Well, that's not what I saw before. He said, that's right. The last time you came as a visitor. Now you come for permanent residence. Other words, watch out. We're all tourists here. So I better be careful. We're all tourists here. Now, what I'm trying to say to you is
that I don't care how you put it in very simple terms, layman's terms. I find it easier to live my day-by-day life no matter how bad it is if I affirm the value of living. If I am convinced that this is the only game in town, there is the choice of affirming life or affirming death. What did I aim for? We have to make a choice. We have to make a commitment. I once attended a psychoanalytic meeting in which one of these existential analysts said, you know the primary motivation in life is death. And he elaborated this and then he sat down and there was an old Freudian, a classical Freudian who got up and said, you know the Freudians used to say that the primary motivation in life is sex. If I had my choice between death and sex, I'd take sex
and sat down. Now what I want to say to you is, you don't have choice about death in my opinion, but you have choice about life. I suggest that you commit yourself to life that you try to make it as big, as much, as full, as rich as you can because no matter how you try to trick them, old man death is going to catch up to you sooner or later. And you're not going to be able to fool them no matter what kind of magic they use. But in the meantime, you might as well enjoy being a tourist here. And that was the point of you that I would like to leave with you this evening. Please, thank you. Thank you. You know, that I don't ask you all that, right? Dr. Schwarz, I was very delightful and as usual,
you're a very appealing and wonderful about it. OK. So what do you think, Lord? About Dr. Meller, of course. I'd like to say back here. I'm going to tell you that. Wow, you're going to cover that. Not forever. Not forever? Yeah, I've got a while. I've got a while. I've got a while. Yeah, I'm up here with that. Let's go ahead. Uh, I think I'd like to pick up Dr. Schwarz on his omnipotence. I think I can make it on potency. Yes, maybe. Yes. I think I can make it on potency. And I can tell you how to handle me when I'm dying. They've been doing some studies on people who are dying out in Chicago. You may have seen it in Life Magazine, Dr. Ross. And they've delineated the stages that people go through. Healthy people who have a terminal illness.
And they've sorted out these stages. The first stage being a stage of denial. When it first begins, they're able to push it aside. They're able to convince themselves. It's not so. And the second stage, after that, when they can no longer do that because of weight loss, they become enraged. They're enraged at the nurses. They're enraged at the doctors. They're enraged at their family. They insist on having continuous care. And following this stage, they go into a stage of bargaining. And they're trying to bargain for more time. This is the omnipotence. Basically, they join the church or they return to the church. Or they make a promise that they dedicate their life to God, or that they'll donate their body or parts to science. And when the bargaining doesn't work, they go on to the next stage, which is a stage of depression and they grieve for themselves. And the last stage is a sort of stage of resignation
when the individual still has a small glimmer of hope, but really, they're ready to go. Now, I anticipate that I will go through these stages. And I anticipate that when I do, I want you there holding my hand. That's what I want. That's what I want. I'll go through it, but I want somebody there. I want somebody with me, and I want somebody to be there the way I was when I had my tonsils out. When I woke up from the anesthesia, my aunt was there. And she was holding my hand. I knew where it was. I could go back into sleep. And I think that's the way dying is. I think it's that you want somebody there. I want somebody there when I'm living, too. Right. I don't want to just be sitting at your side holding your hand when you're dying. If you want me to hold your hand when you're dying, you better let me hold your hand when you're living. Fair enough. Fair enough.
What surprised me the little anecdote, which is how much should we put off by death? I certainly can per there's some areas of agreement. We may not agree on our grandiosity. We have different areas of that. But Harry again, our old buddy Harry. He came home to his wife about nine o'clock at night, and she was furious. She says, I'm leaving. I'm going back to mother. I'm sick and tired of you. You said you'd be home before noon, and here it is nine o'clock at night. And you're just getting back from playing golf. He says, look, I can explain it to you. It wasn't intentional. I didn't do it on purpose. I can explain it. I just listened one minute. She's all right. What happened? He says, well, I went over to pick up Fred. When we were driving to the club, we got a flat tire. When I got out to change the tire, the spare was flat. So I had to roll the tire back half a mile to the garage, get it fixed, bring it back, put it on the car,
and take off to the club. He says, we know sooner or got started. We've gone about half a mile, and the car was out of gas. So I had to get out of the car, walk back to the gas station, get a can of gas, put it in the car, and then we took off to the club. He says, and Fred and I started out on the first tee. It was getting late when we started. And we know sooner or got to the second tee, and Fred has a heart attack and collapses. He says, so I have to go back to the clubhouse, try to find the doctor, but I can't. So I go back to the tee, and there's Fred. He's dead. He says, if you can imagine, because the whole next 16 holes after that, it was hitting the ball, dragging Fred, hitting the ball, dragging Fred. Ah! Ah! Ah! Oh, dear. You see, I think that's the best story. I think that's the best story of the evening. Because I think it's absolutely true. We're all dragging some corpse, some potential corpse around.
You were telling me that in your new book on dieting and eating and food, which is part of living, and God Miller has a new book, which will be out this spring on this, that one of the myths is that in every fat man is a little man trying to get out. And every pin man is a fat man trying to get in. Oh, that's a great story. Now, I wouldn't like to suggest on the basis of your story that obviously in every one of this is a course. And we're all dragging corpse around. But by God, I'm going to play those 17, 18, how many holes do we play? 19 holes. That's the 19 hole. We're going to play those whole 19 holes of God, regardless of whether or not we're dragging that old corpse around. I think that's the important point that we've got to affirm life, regardless of the fact that ultimately we all die, and everybody do so far as we know. That doesn't mean we cannot prolong life. It is my wish, a piece of my omnipotence, that all of us are going to live to be 120. And that the time is coming when most people will live.
Those who live will live to be 120 or 150 or 200. And not get old and be sorry because everybody else has died and only the rare in the few. I have a hunch that maybe out of studies of metabolism, of correction of the potions, of stopping the wars, of making life easier and more fulfill for all of us, there's no telling how far we can push that off. But you see my fantasy, my omnipotence, runs that way because I want to assert life, the sanctity, the beauty, the importance, the value, the gratification in it. And I say again to you, it's the only game in town, can you? Hey, you're awesome. And I can't say anybody does realize it. I like life myself. And I think that with love and with science and with gentlemen like these, we can push it off
to hundred years or so. My mother is attempting to prove it to me. And I feel that we just might be able to do it with a little care and little science and a little bit. And I think the philosophical bits and the psychological sides which these gentlemen have been presenting to us are so important in the understanding of our life through the fact of death. I think that through the fact of death, we learn a great deal more perhaps about ourselves and how to live and how to enjoy life and how perhaps to get it in the most out of it.
You've heard Dr. Claude Miller and Dr. Emanuel Schwartz speaking on the topic What Is Death. This was one of the 1970 series of lectures recorded at the Great Hall of the Cooper Union in New York City by station WNYC. The chairman for the Cooper Union was Johnson E. Fairchild. This program was distributed by the National Educational Radio Network.
Cooper Union forum
Episode Number
Fall 1970
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 70-SUPPL (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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Chicago: “Cooper Union forum; 12; Fall 1970,” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 29, 2024,
MLA: “Cooper Union forum; 12; Fall 1970.” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 29, 2024. <>.
APA: Cooper Union forum; 12; Fall 1970. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from