“Happy” Monday

This gives me joy in the same way that a missive from a someecard my friend once sent me did –– the card read, “When work sucks, just remember that some day you will die.”  So nice to remember there’s a light at the end of this tunnel.

Euthanasia Coaster by Julijonas Urbonas

The Euthanasia Coaster is a roller coaster designed to kill you.  From Urbonas’ website/mission statement:

“Euthanasia Coaster” is a hypothetic euthanasia machine in the form of a roller coaster, engineered to humanely – with elegance and euphoria – take the life of a human being. Riding the coaster’s track, the rider is subjected to a series of intensive motion elements that induce various unique experiences: from euphoria to thrill, and from tunnel vision to loss of consciousness, and, eventually, death. Thanks to the marriage of the advanced cross-disciplinary research in space medicine, mechanical engineering, material technologies and, of course, gravity, the fatal journey is made pleasing, elegant and meaningful. Celebrating the limits of the human body but also the liberation from the horizontal life, this ‘kinetic sculpture’ is in fact the ultimate roller coaster: John Allen, former president of the famed Philadelphia Toboggan Company, once sad that “the ultimate roller coaster is built when you send out twenty-four people and they all come back dead. This could be done, you know.”

On the website, it has a very interesting hypothetical play-by-play of what a rider would experience, along with a great interview with the inventor.


My favorite:

Question: Do you really believe it’s more humane, say, than a lethal injection? 

Answer: First of all, we need to clarify what do we mean by saying “humane” as there is quite a myriad ways of understanding it. Of course, the key description might be something which is painless, pleasant, basically referring to some kind or level of pleasure. But the human being is a cultural being and therefore, in my opinion, we have also refer this term to dignity, compassion, benevolence and meaningfulness. The latter is exactly what a lethal injection lacks. It is highly hospitalised and not much different from a mundane injection of medicine. There is no special ritual nor death is given special meaning except that of the legal procedures and psychological preparation. It is like death is divorced from our cultural life as much as the death rituals in our secular and postmodern Western society. But if it is already legal, why not to make it more meaningful, not in a way the aboriginals mourn the deceased by ecstatic singing and dancing around a bonfire, for example, but as a ritual adapted to the contemporary world where churches and shrines are being replaced by theme parks or at least achieving the equal power of producing spiritual effects (more and more people attend theme parks for self-meliorative purposes — relaxation, self-cultivation, socialisation). This is, of course, a food for thought.

It has been observed that the jumpers, people who commit suicide by falling to the ground, often demonstrate some sort of aesthetic preference for a nice place or structure to kill themselves, for example, by traveling long distances for that, but also performing some forms of rituals such as folding their clothes neatly before the jump or holding a hat on the head with both hands all the way down. What’s more, sometimes the jumpers fall undressed or perform some choreography — it seems that they care about how their bodies meet the air. All this testifies that self-murderers are not apathetic in relation to the ritual of killing themselves, and seek some sort of aesthetic meaning in it.

My coworker and I are going to get tattoos of this shape.

In fact, falling is a unique experience that sets itself apart from other types of death: while rushing towards the ground or, in the case of the Euthanasia Coaster, towards the loop, knowing and anticipating with the whole body the exact time of death, there is still a fraction of time for reflection. Its real-time interface and inherent dramatic structure — the leap, the fall, the impact — a three act tragedy, are not present in lethal injection, shooting yourself or in overdosing on drugs, for example. Pull the trigger and you receive the shot — there is no gap between the act and its result, while with lethal injection or overdose there is an unknown time interval. In the Euthanasia Coaster the ritualistic drama is exaggerated even more: there is a lift up the tower, the drop, the serpentine fall, the vertiginous and euphoric entry to a series of the loops, and, eventually the fatal ride within the loop. Moreover, another unique thing is that this dramatic spectacle is open to the public, be it the relatives of the rider or the victims of the sentenced to capital punishment, revealing the full drama of their demise. Given all that, the coaster incorporates the private and public aesthetics of a humane and meaningful death: for the faller it is a painless, whole-body engaging and ritualised death machine, for the observers — a monumental mourning machine.


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