d. (funnytimeofyear) wrote,

Southbank Centre's Death Festival

Yesterday I attended the Southbank Centre's Death Festival. I mostly wanted to go to see the debate with Jon Snow about assisted dying, but there were also some other talks that resonated with me. There were some great short talks in the Death Bites series. In particular one by Brian Parsons who gave us a visual whistlestop tour of London's most impressive cemeteries (including some of my favourites from The Magnificent Seven). I was also very interested in Stacey Pitsillides short but sweet talk about digital death - what happens to our data after we die, and how the Internet has changed the way in which we can mourn or collect belongings (including digital data) from those that die.

We also saw a very interesting talk from Brighton University graduate and documentary photographer Murray Ballard about his project, 'The Prospect of Immortality', an investigation into the world of cryonics. It's very odd to think that people are actually having their bodies (and animals) frozen in the hopes that science will one day be able to bring them back to life. An interesting insight into a world that seems so far removed from reality.

My favourite part of the day was the debate on assisted dying, something that I thought I understood and felt strongly about, but it helped to raise some important (and confusing) issues that surround the legalities of assisted dying. The debate focused solely on physical disabilities and terminal illness - involving mental health issues around this subject is a whole different debate in itself. Personally I'm pro assisted dying and sympathised with the views of Debbie Purdy who has been campaigning to change the law on assisted dying. The debate threw up some interesting issues about how to create a law that protects people from being coerced into dying, whilst also being open to individual cases. Interestingly it didn't cover assisted suicide which I'm also pro, but I assume that was due not only to time but also it being a whole extra topic to digest. Jon Snow chaired the debate extremely well. It was definitely food for thought. If you're interested in these issues you might like:

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