The Point on death

Death, as Hamlet tells us, is endless silence. But it is also noise: the sounds of mourning, of a casket lowered into the ground, or—if the dead happened to be famous—of constant keyboard clatter. An actor dies and within hours eulogies fly in from all corners of the country, from Twitter effusions to highly wrought magazine elegies. Depending on your sensibilities, this media spectacle is either heartening or grimly predictable. “The words of a dead man,” Auden wrote upon the death of Yeats, “are modified in the guts of the living.” Death’s disarming vacancies are filled by the doings of the survivors. But, in the recent case of Robin Williams, the frenzied reaction seems oddly appropriate. After all, was there ever a comedian who tried harder to outstrip and outshout despair by sheer volubility?