Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Heaven - Nothing to write home about?

Stories are a way of re-membering people.
According to the late great anthropologist Barbara Myerhoff, re-membering is distinct from
mere recollection. It is an intentional act, which is embodied in cultural practices such as storytelling.

Telling stories
about the dead is a way of restoring their membership to the present.
As we begin preparing the storytelling space for our upcoming performances of Two Men Talking, I am reminded of the power of story to conjure the presences of people who have died or are far away. My grandparents, their families, my beloved nanny Paula Modisane. My father and mother who are still alive but geographically distant.

The preparation for Two Men Talking always affects my dream life too.

Last night I dreamed that I was visited by my friend Anneliese who died two years ago at the age of 95.
She was visiting from heaven.
Her hand was cold when I reached out to shake it.
And she looked pretty blue.
I asked how it was to be dead.
"Not very pleasant", she told me.
"How about heaven?", I wanted to know.
"There's nothing to do", she complained. "In fact there is nothing at all. Absolutely nothing.
"Basically", she said: "Its nothing to write home about".

Anyone got an alternative description of heaven?
Something to write home about?


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