Kinnebrew Writing Homepage



Artists Statement 1998

personal philosophy 2004



Joseph Kinnebrew



June 2009

I am a hell of a guy… first I send a dying friend my thoughts on hope and now this. 

Fight or no fight! 

First please read no further if this talk of death brings you the slightest discomfort.  There are no truths here only opinions.  Considered opinion yes and long hours thinking and sometimes accompanied by tears that I am glad others did not see.  This death talk is life’s toughest stuff and its most essential questions.  For some the fact that there are no answers is devastating, as they cannot reconcile the notion that they and they alone will mitigate these matters and then of course deal with the consequences.  At this time I presume we will do this alone.

It maybe makes it somewhat more credible knowing I walked through fire on this subject and still stand in dying embers.  For years I have been curious, least I say fascinated, by end of life issues and the endless debate of our immortality.  I have painted it, written about it and even sculpted it. I have dreamt about it, day dreamed about it and talked to those who would listen to the meandering uncertainties of an ever seeking wanderer. Sometimes my queries have been obscured just as I have done with other matters in my life.  But death came as close as it could to me without inviting me in.  The slap in the face became more than speculation and debate.  Now some of my thoughts have evoked actions and other thoughts deeper and more emotional if such a thing were possible and it was and it is.

My mentor and dearest friend who died a few years ago patiently shared my inquiries. We talked about it often.  He knew his time of change was coming near and his position was that even through the discomfort and potential indignities of it he still remained curious, filled with awe and wanted to be his own witness until the end of this, his life.  He was a well-known and highly regarded theologian so some ideas we did not agree upon.  But medical science we agreed could not save us as we are presently constituted but technology might.

It is ingrained in us that the hero’s option is always to fight and continue the effort to prevail and conquer death.  This is long time stuff and Joseph Campbell described it eloquently as “the hero’s journey".  How you define “hero” and for whom is your choice intended?  Some will say that if you don’t fight then you should.  Others will say it is your decision.  I am in the latter camp.  This of all decisions is ours and ours alone.

Deciding what we are fighting for is the essence of it all.  I have decided I will not fight I think!  I have a deep respect for what science and technology has done for me/us but when it comes to the spirit… my spirit... that is a different matter… thus I wrote about hope to help define my position.  I have decided to respect the cosmic process and join with it.  I have recalled that the cosmos looses nothing but that other dimensions, time and effects change the forms.  If it were otherwise and the cosmos looses stuff then where does it go?  I have decided right now... this moment I am immortal but changeable.  When we fight we roll over in the confluence of our existence and swim.  I have tried to live reminding myself not to swim for floating in the current is enough… it is the great gift that brings peace and enlightenment. There we are one with the universe for it really can't be any other way. This is conscilience or perhaps as close to it as we will ever get.

If others choose to fight I respect and honor that.  The simple essence of this is it theirs, just not my personal and spiritual choice.

I will be the ultimate witness to my own transition for that is the only thing I think it can be… a transition… the cosmos looses nothing.

What does this do for me?   Something enormous.  I do not fear death.  I will, if I am blessed with peaceful consciousness be my own witness.  The miracles of medicine I hope will facilitate my peace so I can focus on what matters.  Science will not make me young again but only prolong my process here.  I will not ask it to save my life.

So I said to my friend where are you… I do not know but in the days that unfold I hope the fear will subside.  As I struggled for the words I said look around and try to store images, perhaps they can be recalled in another way in another place… this is the message I have for those of us who live and those of us who will change… we will change that is all… we will change.

The biggest heartache is what of the love(s) of our life… where will they be and what will they feel?  And here too I suggest floating in the stream… the current that is life, death the cosmic inevitability.  We think knowing death of another we will surely sink under the burden of sadness and loneliness… I most certainly thought I would and at times still feel that way.   Our loves become life vests.  But we will not sink with our loves no longer here.  I believe this and thus I do not fear death… I fear only the sadness of others whose great sense of loss I cannot control anymore that I can the birth of a new star.

Sometimes I open my clinched fist expecting to see the departed, transitioned… dead people of my passion standing there in miniature.  But each time what I see is a vision of the cosmos for we are indeed all made of the material of the stars and we are immortal.

I will outlast the sun

Ad Sum

So here is a “conceit" I wrote in my sketch book many years ago maybe 30 years ago.  Yes there are things I would now change but I leave them here, as they are evidence of what I have learned, where I have been and just the slightest glimpse of who or what I will be:


I will outlast the sun.  I will outlast all the suns and all the stars, all the nights and all the days of earth.  My infinite spirit is in infinite particles and blown through infinite space with a presence mortal men can never know.  I will race through time into the finiteness of infinity where there is no known measure.

Being is an earthling’s concern.  It is important to us who by living know, but not when, we will die in human terms.  Human beings we define as special because we have decided they are in a state of intelligent conscious being.

We are deluded by a preposterous and outrageous presumption.  Human life, we believe, is unique in the cosmos.  Although we acknowledge the possible existence of others and perhaps their greater or lesser intelligence it is our beginning notion of so called intelligent life that initiates this thought and brings it forward to a state of reality as we define it.

Consider this:

Human life is a cosmic accident – a slippage that is corrected by death.

Death is a cosmic fix – a return to normal. Steady state where steady means constantly changing.

In the cosmos there is no life or death and in order to set things back to the cosmic state of status quo, death, to end the accident of life, is a necessary correction.  Life is disorder, a disunity, and an incomplete idea that cannot complete itself.  It bonds with nothing and thus cannot make something greater than the sum of its parts.  Life can only destroy or be destroyed.

Our vain search for consilience while in this state of error (life) is futile.  This futility is expressed in man’s self-aggrandizing performance and pursuit of perception and perfection.

Death is a return to normality.  It is infinite finiteness, sum zero, and is perfection in the cosmos.  Man’s positional error is aggravated by his need for an explanation of, or belief in, “the order of things” that in their actual state, (a relative term), simply do not function within the defined term of “the order of things”.

Then what to do?  There must be a channel of awareness or compatibility with such concepts of non-human, non-ordered nature.  If “human” being doesn’t get us there then is there any point in trying.  Maybe hedonism isn’t so bad after all because that’s all we really have to choose from at the end of the day.

But I think not.

I believe there is a potential to flow with this “life as accident, death as correction”, awareness.  I suspect that the key is in movement.  Cerebral time traveling.  It is our ability to creatively imagine or, what a friend of mine calls, spiritual awareness.

So when it’s time to unpack your life and pack your particles to again sail on the cosmic winds all will be good again.  No more, “Angels we have heard on high.  Instead it’s, “The answer my friend is blowin’ the wind”.