Thoughts on “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman: Issue 09

In this issue, Shadow finishes his work at the funeral home of Jacquel and Ibis, who are representations of the Egyptian gods Anubis and Thoth, respectively. The installment contains some brilliant reflections on death that are worth contemplating.

Shadow drove carefully down the street. It seemed right to go slow in a hearse, although he could barely remember the last time he had seen a hearse on the street. Death had vanished from the streets of America, thought Shadow. Now it happened in hospital rooms and ambulances.

People in modern society are terrified of their mortality, so the tendency is to shield the public from what is a natural part of every life. The terminally ill are usually sent off to hospital rooms to die, or if they are lucky, spend their last days in hospice. To face a dying person is to stare into the mirror of your own mortality, and I sense that a lot of people don’t want to do that. They want to stumble or charge through life, oblivious of what is coming nearer with each passing moment. Personally, I feel that there is something very spiritual about reflecting on your own death. It makes you realize just how precious each moment is. In fact, I recently read about some Eastern traditions where monks spend time meditating while gazing upon the body of a dead person. I can only imagine the profound impact that must have on an individual.

The issue concludes with another great passage describing Shadow’s exit from the house of the dead.

Shadow realized it had only been a temporary reprieve, his time in the house of the dead; and already it was beginning to feel like something that happened to somebody else, a long time ago.

What I like about this short passage is that it succinctly expresses that death is only a very brief moment, essentially a portal into another level of being. Our consciousness does not linger in the house of the dead. It is quickly prepared and then sent on its way, and all that is left is the vague impression of that fleeting moment in the long journey of the soul.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing in my musings. Have an inspired day.


Filed under Literature

6 responses to “Thoughts on “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman: Issue 09

  1. I think you’re right, Jeff. Thanks for sharing this – the artwork on this issue is really nice!

  2. For those with reason to believe in an afterlife, it really just becomes one, big long – possibly everlasting – journey. I personally think the next life is so much more than this, we can only get inklings now. Having said that, I’m sure my humanity will be sad when it’s time to check out. So many things I didn’t do…

    • Well, it’s easy to focus on what you didn’t do, but if we pause and reflect on what we DID do, I think many of us will realize we have lived full lives. The problem is we exist in a society of lack, where the focus of advertising and culture is to make you painfully aware of the things you do not have or have not done, to keep you striving.

      Sorry, you get me off on a tangent. 🙂

      • No, it’s a good point. Not a tangent. One of the most influential philosophers, maybe Kant, never veered too from from his home town. That is, he didn’t travel. Was his life lacking? Media starts playing with our minds at a young age. Last night I saw a very interesting CNN piece about Late Night presenters’ treatment of Trump. So it was TV talking about TV! – how’s that for a tangent! 🙂

      • LOL – yeah, that’s why I ditched TV and only stream movies and shows (Netflix, Amazon, etc). I just can’t stand the constant stream of mindless prattle that passes for news commentary. And thanks for reminding me I need to read more Kant. My list keeps growing. 🙂