Dying and Death, argument
“Courage is just the beginning of the triumph!”
Plutarch (46-120 AD)
In any sense, the significance of this conference directs my thoughts to the idea of fight for very important thing: in this case, a real fight for an idea to develop the death studies in Romania and also an attempt to enlarge of new network between death scholars across the Europe.
But this image of a fight as the true engine of the third edition of Dying and Death in the 18th-21st Century Europe: Refiguring Death Rites in Europe must be explained more than it.
Firstly, I must confess that for me and all the people who worked for organizing this conference it was a fight to succeed to make this event come true.
The second explanation is more philosophical one. A Dutch philosopher Paul Ludwig Landsberg compared the relation between life and death with a corrida. In this situation humans are like the ox and death is the toreador, always trying to surprise and kill humans. So, this relation between life and death could be understood as a permanent fight between these two. On the other hand one of the classical images of life could be a battlefield where the livings fight all the time, with big or small enemies, dreaming and dreaming to be more than before.
Thirdly, looking at you the participants at the third edition of this conference I do know who you are: a special kind of people working on dying and death area. We are linked in this way due to our special scientific interest: to reflect, to explain, to write about this topic. I remember how scared and suspicious was some colleague of mine when I started this conference in 2008 saying about me I’m a little bit crazy organizing a scientific event on this topic. Maybe this was your case too but seeing here participants from 16 countries at this edition of our conference I know I was so right in 2008 in bringing this idea to life.
If I know who you are, a new question is raising up right here: What is death? I know there is a very hard but very simple answer to this question. Personally, I prefer a definition of a great Romanian poet upon it: Death is just a melting of ourselves into the universe. Also this poet considered Death as shadow which watches us every moment of our life trying again and again to absorb us…
So, our fight of all the people interested in death studies is a mission too: to try to understand and to explain the thousand possible sides of death. I think this is the most difficult fight for us because this fight is a fight with ourselves with our own fears, too. Under these circumstances, I consider any thanatologist to be a person having his or her nature of a real winner, a translator for others of death meanings.
So, my dear friends we are winners because we were able to win a part of our agonies, of our own deaths and after that to work scientifically on this topic. I love Pier Paolo Passolini this great Italian movie director and writer. Passolini once said: Death doesn’t mean not being able to communicate but not being able to make ourselves understood and having these words in our minds I believe that trying to decode and translate for other people may be our real calling at this conference and into our works, too.
These are the presented papers at Dying and Death in 18th-21st century Europe: Refiguring Death Rites in Europe, third edition, International Conference organized by “1 Decembrie 1918” University of Alba Iulia (Romania), National Museum of Unification, Alba Iulia (Romania), Radboud University of Nijmegen (The Netherlands), Ariodante Fabretti Foundation, University of Turin (Italy). The partners of this event were National Authority for Scientific Research (ANCS – Romania), Alba Iulia Council County, Amurg. Romanian Cremation Association (www.incinerareamurg.ro), Romanian Association for Death Studies (www.death-studies.ro), Direction for Culture, Cults and National Heritage of Alba County, Giovanni Morandi Visconti Italian Cultural Centre, Alba Iulia (Romania). At the conference attended about 70 participants from 16 European and non-European countries (United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Finland, Denmark, Republic of Moldova, Greece, Turkey, New Zeeland, Romania). The conference was organized in nine parallel sections. Unfortunately, not all the participants sent us their full papers to be published in the present proceedings. The next edition of our conference will be held in Alba Iulia at the end of September 2011. You are welcome to our conference!
Alba Iulia, September 3, 2010