Natasha Lushetich


In autumn 2005, I was invited to an unusual party in Amsterdam – a dying party, organised by a friend and former colleague of mine in honour of his terminally ill partner. The partner, who had been suffering from cancer for over two years and had spent the previous ten months either in unbearable pain or unconscious due to the large doses of morphine he was taking to alleviate the pain, had decided to celebrate the end of a long but nevertheless victorious battle against the medical and bureaucratic apparatus in the Peter Sellars style. Contrary to common belief, the request for active euthanasia, which differs from its passive variant in that it requires the patient’s anaesthesiologist to perform the deed rather than simply to stop administering life-sustaining medication, is a long and emotionally exhausting process with no certain results. Focusing on the erosion of the symbolic within the (lingering) Calvinist tradition, the Baudrillardian floating signifier and the failure of performance efficacy, this chapter traces the problematics of meaning-production in self-styed dying ritual.

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