Thursday, October 07, 2010


Cactus Ed's Funeral Instructions

Edward Abbey, Confessions of a Barbarian: Selections from the Journals, ed. David Petersen (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1994), p. 295 (October 1981):
My body to be transported in the bed of a pickup truck and buried as soon as possible after death, in a hole dug on our private property somewhere (along Green River, up in the LaSals, or at Cliff Dwellers). No undertakers wanted; no embalming (for godsake!); no coffin. Just a plain pine box hammered together by a friend; or an old sleeping bag or tarp will do. If the site selected is too rocky for burial, then pile on sand and a pile of stones sufficient to keep coyotes from dismembering and scattering my bones. Wrap my body in my anarch's flag. But bury my body if possible; I want my body to help fertilize the growth of a cactus, or cliffrose, or sagebrush, or tree, etc. Disregard all state laws regarding burials. Hang a windbell nearby.

Ceremony? GUNFIRE! And—a little music, please: Jack Loeffler and his trumpet. Maybe a few readings from Thoreau, Whitman, Twain (something funny), Jeffers and/or Abbey. That should be sufficient. No speeches desired, though the deceased will not interfere if someone feels the urge. But keep it all simple and brief.

Then—a Wake! More music, lots of gay and lively music—bagpipes! Drums and flutes! The Riverine String Band playing jigs, reels, country swing and polkas; I want dancing! And a flood of beer and booze! A bonfire! And lots of food—meat! Corn on the cob! Beans and chilies! Cake and pie and ice cream and soda pop for the kids! Gifts for all my friends and all who come—books, record albums, curios and keepsakes. Invite everyone (we like)! No formal mourning, please—lots of singing, dancing, hollering, laughing and love-making instead. I want my widow to take a new man as soon as she can find one good enough—for her.

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