But death has become wild and obscene in this country. Its power threatens our national religion of control. To die in America is to fail. It is an act of weakness. The dead could have beaten it had they been tough enough. And suicide, of course, is even worse, whatever the unendurable torments or neurological malfunctions that might drive one to it. Believe me, he tried some truly medieval procedures to penetrate his horror.
Barlow says this in discussing the disappearance of his friend Spalding Gray, who is now an officially washed-up actor.
(No, I don't really think that. I liked Spalding Gray and I wish he were back and happy. But when a bad joke comes to you, a bad situational
joke, something that will not work anywhere else, you know you shouldn't tell it but you do. Jokes must be told. I remember after the first space shuttle explosion, a kid in a college class with me said he was worried about the space program--he really
like space stuff--and I said, don't worry Eugene, there's already another flight scheduled for July 4th. He hit me over the head with a heavy three-ring binder, probably a binder full of space clippings and Superman comics and the like, and people told me to hit him, but I couldn't even blame him. I just couldn't stop myself. But I don't think Spalding Gray would hit me over the head with a three-ring binder if he were here.)