Pull red lever and push window out for emergency exit

Warning labels and signs are such an embedded part of our world that we don't even notice them. Plastered over and on top of everything, whispering to us about disasters that might never happen. Death and the ways it might come or be averted. How much closer can you get the heart of the human experience?

If you are seated in an exit row and feel you cannot carryout the duties expected of you...

It's all bullshit, of course. We're all gonna die someday, maybe sooner and maybe later. Our whole civilization, our medical tradition and our ideologies, are constructed in denial of this, I think. Our bodies are our perfect machines that we put so much work into building up, and if we work hard enough and live right and don't smoke and pay our taxes on time and have a physical once a year, our machines will never break down.


When we see car crashes and air wrecks and disasters on TV, they strike right to the core of this ideology. By God, somebody should do something! There oughta be a law! We can't regulate death out of existence, but we can try and do our damndest. We can make everything child-safe and triple-checked, know the risks. And pray to God we don't step out in front of a bus or drop dead of an aneurysm tommorow.

How's my driving? Call 1-800...

So long as we can keep death on TV and in the movies, where they have context by being part of a narrative, we're safe. When it bleeds over into our lives, though, that's when it starts to get scary. I love Hong Kong action movies, but I can't stand to look at a dead possum on the side of the road.

Surgeon General's Warning: Quitting smoking now greatly reduces risks to your health

Our warnings have become our totems, our way of marking out the territory of the known and unknown. Instead of invoking our gods or ancestor spirits, we call on knowledge and science to save us. The net effect is the same of course; science can do a lot for us, but it can't stop us from dying. But so long as we see our warnings, know that everything's been taken care of and a higher power's made everything safe, we know that we'll be alright.

Remain Calm

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