At the entrance to The Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital there are several quotes inscribed in Latin on the ceiling, among them are two that have been translated onto plaques on the wall below…
Mortality gives meaning to life. It is the immortal gods of our fables who are cursed. Never knowing death, they never experience life.
Death is a gift. One that should not be confined to hospice wards and mortuaries. Yet, we live our days stripped of its awareness. It is only when we become beset by disease or impending doom that we feel its everyday approach.
It is a subject that has no experts, though there are those who through their art have captured some piece of it, and in doing so, truth. For only through the touch of death can we experience reality.
“Man enters the world with closed hands, as if to say, “The world is mine”; he leaves with open hands, as if to say, “I take nothing with me.””
– Midrash Ecclesiastes R. 5:14
“If I cannot give consent to my own death, whose body is this? Who owns my life?”
– Sue Rodriguez
“This is what I find so strange: we are not necessarily kind to animals. We use them, we eat them. But we don’t like them to suffer. Yet humans must. They have to wait for the great Vet himself to decide how long their anguish must last and how deep it must reach. And He has, as far as I can see, a habit of waiting a long, long time before deciding to end their misery.”
― Beverly Rycroft, A Slim Green Silence
“It is sometimes an appropriate response to reality to go insane.”
― Philip K. Dick, VALIS
“The Edge… There is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.”
― Hunter S. Thompson, Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga
“Thin, I think, that fabric between realities. Maybe minds aren’t lost. Maybe they just slip through and find a different place to wander.”
― C.J. Tudor, The Chalk Man
“I’m not afraid of being dead. I’m just afraid of what you might have to go through to get there.”
― Pamela Bone
“Her mind kept fading in the growing mist.
She still could speak. She paused, and groped, and found
What seemed at first a serviceable sound,
But from adjacent cells impostors took
The place of words she needed, and her look
Spelt imploration as she fought in vain
To reason with the monsters in her brain.”
― Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire
“We see, too, how Christopher is at a stage in his disease where he can’t remember the word for moon, but it doesn’t matter, he knows it’s something beautiful in the sky, isn’t that enough?”
― Wendy Mitchell, Somebody I Used to Know: A Memoir
“Indeed, the line between perceiving and hallucinating is not as crisp as we like to think. In a sense, when we look at the world, we are hallucinating all the time. One could almost regard perception as the act of choosing the one hallucination that best fits the incoming data.”
― V.S. Ramachandran, The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Quest for What Makes Us Human
“There never can be a man so lost as one who is lost in the vast and intricate corridors of his own lonely mind, where none may reach and none may save.”
― Isaac Asimov, Pebble in the Sky
“To sleep, perchance to dream—ay, there’s the rub, for in that sleep of death what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, must give us pause.”