Charles 7 Comments

Bill Jordan is on a  quest to have (when the time comes) his corpse laid out on the surface where it will be able to give most back to the ecosystem. He wants “to know I’ll be going back into the air, the soil, the rain, the mist, the snow–back to the ecstasy I feel while walking–these experiences are so comforting that I almost look forward to being laid out on the festive table of a Sierra Nevada meadow, or the large rocks in the Australian Alice, or the sagebrush scrub of the Great Basin.”


Bill has featured before on this blog. If you missed his extended rationale, read this and this.

Here is Bill’s latest update of his pursuit of his goal. He has been working with down-t0-earth idealist and natural burier Cynthia Beal. Bill says:

Cynthia and I are agreed to proceed, in principle as well as spirit, on the assumption that it’s always later than you think. The strategy includes several plans, based on practical reality, and one of these involves planting on Bernd Heinrich’s property in Maine. Bernd is an old friend–I met him while in graduate school at UC Berkeley in the late ’60s and early 70s–and we have discussed permanent parking on his mountain. He is, by the way, publishing a new book on decomposition in nature and I am mentioned in it–also mentioned in Summer World. Slowly, insidiously, we are infiltrating the modern mind.

Bill also sent me more photos of his duck, Jacqui. He says: Note the red caruncle around her eye in the last picture–let your mind flip and suddenly you see it as a small, red creature–some primitive, amphibious ancestor, pointing backwards”.



  1. Charles

    I feel your wife may be being overly cautious, Rupert, even if that’s something I would never dare put to my own, who frankly terrifies me. I think that to witness the vibrant, joyous, useful recycling of Bill would lead to clamour. Everybody would want it.

  2. Charles

    Flippancy aside, the Romans were fascinated by decay, keeping bowls of rotting fruit displayed prominently. Buddhist monks often meditate on corpses gently dissolving. My first encounter with a corpse in extremis provoked a deep sense of entranced compassion, rather than disgust, and I am so much more Beavis and Butthead than Buddha so if it did that for me..

  3. Charles

    Joe ‘Touching the Void’ Simpson talks about this in his third book, ‘Dark Shadows falling’, with some anger, describing a successful attempt on the summit of Everest by two Japanese climbers who passed a dying Sherpa. There wasn’t much they could have done except offer some comfort, but they didn’t do that, much to the horror of the many teams camped out at base camp watching through binoculars. Shouty over the top actor Brian Blessed was amongst them, and was so outraged that he stormed over to the Japanese camp, ripped their flag off it’s pole and urinated on it. It is a fine, angry somewhat despairing meditation on risk and death, with some incredible prescient musings on what he felt might happen to Diana ex Princess of Wales, namely hounded to death in a car crash pursued by the press. Gives you goose bumps to read it.

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