Death makes people horny

As you get older, you suddenly wonder what younger people actually think - about life, love or even death. And right away you have the book on the table: Chuck Klosterman was given a rental car by the New York pop magazine Spin Magazine so that he could drive for a good two weeks on a zigzag course from the east coast to the west coast of the USA. The young music journalist wanted and should visit as many places as possible where a famous pop musician died an early death.

Is that a good idea? Or just an obvious crazy idea? Klosterman says of his “death project”: “Dying is the most interesting thing that all people do, without exception. This is especially true for celebrities. '' Then he brags about the fact that he puts 600 of his 2233 CDs in the back seat of his rental Ford and also takes plenty of marijuana with him. But let's get in, even a young show-off who is smoking weed can have good thoughts. And maybe it will even help an elderly person to clarify one or the other question about death or life a little more clearly.

First question: Who does death actually belong to?

Hardly escaping childhood, our boys are obsessed with death, and they usually make no secret of it. "I don't want to die, but I love the idea of ​​being dead." This is the confession that Chuck Klosterman gives his readers after he told them how he went jogging from behind a hotel. While running, he imagined he was going to have a heart attack, Spin Magazine dedicated an entire issue of the magazine to him and two of the music editors wrote a moving obituary from their hearts.

This fantasy is undoubtedly universal in character. Around the globe, boys and girls plagued by Weltschmerz like to imagine watching their loved ones mourn. The undead dead man who can do this makes a curious figure. It is true that he has escaped all duties of being alive and has ignored all chances of existence.

But he can by no means let go of his former environment. Like an otherworldly television junkie, he remains addicted to the film of his afterlife, to the repentant tears of his girlfriend, to the guilty conscience of the elderly, to the reverent memory of his buddies.

We older people see such a tendency with discomfort, especially when we are the parents of the morbid maiden or the death-lusting youth. One cannot put up with the nasty death videos that are circulating on the PCs and cell phones of the youthful cliques. The half-skeletonized corpses on their posters and T-shirts were accepted with acidic overcoming, because unfortunately you can still remember the cover of some of your own favorite records. But secretly you wish you could take away this whole thing of death from the adolescents like an educationally inferior toy.

Chuck Klosterman also uses his journey from death place to death place to visit his old parents in North Dakota. He tries to get there on time for dinner so that his mother doesn't think he's had an accident. The boys suspect it: they alone own the pleasurable game with death.

For us, the older ones, it sits like a painless, like a quietly growing lump on the neck. We no longer amuse ourselves with the images of death. And in the competition for the strongest black feelings, at best we are left with the fear of our precious children dying too early.

Death is kind of cool, isn't it?

Second question: what does music have to do with death?

Chuck Klosterman loves to talk about songs and the albums they can be found on. In his book, he doesn't just do this by addressing the reader directly. No, he loves it even more to reconstruct in a scenic way what he once said to someone about a band or a song. This tic is more than just the occupational disease of the pop journalist.

For Klosterman, talking about pop songs is simply the only way to get into a wholesome relationship with the past. This also applies to events of general significance such as September 11, 2001.

Everything that is related to the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and that can be meaningfully said about it is included for Klosterman in the album "Kid A" by the British pop group Radio Head. As soon as he connects the songs on the CD with the events through his reasoning, his contemporary speech loses the arbitrary banality from which it is always threatened.

When Klosterman flippantly remarks "that 'Kid A' is the official soundtrack of September 11, 2001," he means something deadly serious that goes beyond the horror of the attack. Only the pop song lets him endure the fact that the past he has experienced himself exists at all. The tormenting "nostalgic longing for the immediate past" has become magically acceptable for three, four or five minutes in the song. As long as the melancholy enjoys itself.

But not longer. Because with the end of the song the desperate search for the beginning of a new one begins immediately. And until you have found the saving song on the FM buttons of the car radio or in the CD pile on the back seat, you stay afloat with pop discourse.

The manic chattering Chuck Klosterman resembles a swimmer who stretches his talking head convulsively into the present, while his past, what he has experienced so far, sloshes dangerously around his chin as an uncontrollable body of water. It's sad and funny at the same time in the best places.

Death is kind of cool, isn't it?

Third question: what does love have to do with death?

Chuck Klosterman writes about his love affairs about as much and obviously as much as about pop songs. These affairs have names, at least first names, and they're all in a mess. Either they have already broken in pain, or they are just breaking during the tour, or at least they are ailing, threatened by a bad outcome.

You don't die of a broken heart these days. But it's still a nice habit to think of the course of a relationship as a kind of path in life. In falling in love one is born to one's true being, the final decline of feelings is analogous to death. That is the romantic model.

Chuck Klosterman's thinking and feeling cannot get out of this dying. "We die all the time," he says with melancholy pathos when he talked about his first college relationship, and then he compares the end of some selected love affairs with death from a stroke, with the painful waning of bone cancer , with a plane crash and a shot in the back of the head.

It reads lewdly, in the weakest parts it even looks flirtatious. But it is not a lie. At some point in the prehistoric times of bourgeois emotional culture, brand new romantic love stocked up on metaphors when the body died. Now that the general love affair is making its senile rounds in silly television series, the mortal body demands something in return.

Now the carnal desire that has long been romantically transfigured should kindly pretend it was just another disease leading to death and at the same time the most beautiful flower of a general love for life. Does Chuck Klosterman love life? "I am not qualified for life here," is the first sentence of his travelogue, and this laconic truth is believed to the end of his book.

Death is kind of cool, isn't it?

Last question: can we miss death?

In the places that Klosterman visits, he experiences next to nothing. He stands lost at the edge of the wood, in the top of which Lynyrd Skynrd's plane fell. The intersection where Duane Allman of the Allman Brothers raced to his death on his motorcycle speaks to him just as little as the Graceland grounds, where Elvis Presley's heart failed in one of the toilets.

How silly to have expected something else! The soil of the civilized world is saturated with the last sighs of the dying. Where thousands seek to live, thousands also die. Why should the death rattle of some drug-addicted musician have left an audible mark on this hopelessly scratched record?

But Chuck Klosterman has one last trump card up his sleeve. The final stop on his journey is Seattle. And the fame of the pop dead, whom he is tracking down there, is still so fresh that he only needs to name the prematurely deceased by the initials of his name "C.B.".

Kurt Cobain, the head of the grunge band Nirvana, is still an incredibly rich corpse. And Chuck Klosterman makes an honest effort to spark one or the other intellectual spark from the circumstances of Cobain's suicide. The book becomes smart, almost precocious.

For Klosterman, Cobain chose the right moment to die. Just as the nimbus began to drift its figure into hopelessly negative, when it became clear that his band had to leave the crown of grunge to their competitor Pearl Jam, Cobain set the decisive sign with the shotgun.

Klosterman doesn't tell us that Cobain was 27 years old at the time. But halfway through the journey, he casually disclosed to us what the brief biography of the envelope deliberately concealed: Chuck Klosterman, the young squadronur, was already 31 years old at the time of his trip, in 2003.

When does a man's youthfulness pass? Where does the adolescent period, from which all pop culture feeds and to which it constantly supplies new nutrients, inevitably come to an end nowadays? And how does it feel when it gradually dawns on you that - over all the songs - you have missed this death of your youth?

© SZ supplement from October 4th, 2006