humour, music, life, sociology. friendly agnostic.

Funny Famous Last Words

Posted by spritzophrenia on November 5, 2010

I came across a very cool little book yesterday, of “fond farewells, deathbed diatribes and exclamations upon expiration”. Some are tragic, some are uplifting, some are plain ironic:

“I wish I had drunk more champagne”

John Maynard Keynes

The British Keynes was not your average economist. Keynes, whose eponymous theories influenced Roosevelt’s New Deal and the rise of the European welfare state, was also a member of the famously liberated Bloomsbury group. He was politically liberal and sexually liberated, sleeping with many of the bohemian men in his circle and, of course, drinking champagne. Of that, and government spending, Keynes thought there could never be enough.


“I’ve Never Felt Better”

Douglas Fairbanks

After suffering a heart attack in 1939 at the age of 57, “The King of Silent Hollywood” (Robin Hood, The Thief of Baghdad, The Mark of Zorro) reassured an attendant while resting at home, then went back to sleep and died that night. Fairbanks was an athletic movie star known for his charm, good looks, and— apparently— an inability to gauge his physical condition.

“The couldn’t hit an elephant at this dist— “

General John Sedgwick

General John Sedgwick was a corps commander of the Army of the Potomac who enjoyed a reputation among his men as a good-humored guy and relentless optimist. At the Battle of the Wilderness, while other men were diving for cover from Confederate sharpshooters, Sedgwick scoffed at the danger, stood up, and caught a bullet in his face.

Some “last words” in the book are official goodbyes, written before the author popped their clogs. Do you have any final words planned? I hope mine will be “Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz…”


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9 Responses to “Funny Famous Last Words”

  1. Iain said

    I took a stroll through the Australian war museum in Canberra while I was there and I read quite a few of the stories of the soldiers who had one medals for bravery and so forth. Some of the acts that they pulled off were so incredible and utterly amazing, and some resulted in many serious injuries – the Purple Hearts(?) were all awarded posthumously, in fact – that I could only imagine how many other people attempted similar acts of bravado/insanity and simply got shot in the face. I suppose in a war, when everyone is trying to be the hero, you get to tell a really neat story after the fact by pointing at the ones who made it rather than the ones just fade quietly into obscurity.

    As for my last words? Well, I’d rather be taken up into the Singularity or be the first successful Methuselah life-extension trial, but perhaps I’ll settle for a contented sigh after a day with loved ones. I think I care less about my last words and care more about my final thoughts (contentment?) knowing I did the best I could and that, possibly, I’ve left some kind of positive change on the world.

    • I’m not sure if I want to be in the Singularity OR live an incredibly long time. Sometimes I think death is a kind release. Would I get bored living for ages? Hmmm… those would be good topics for a discussion.

      • Iain said

        Yes, I think that would be worth blogging about.

        You could start by reading this and then see what thoughts arise; the story has impacted my thoughts greatly. Maybe also watch this. Basically, it’s a huge and extremely fascinating topic.

        I’m cynically inclined to assume the worst of people who say they don’t want to live forever. That is, I actually tend to think that the disinclination to want to live forever is some kind of Existential Stockholm Syndrome brought on by the presumed inevitability of death.

        Here’s an amusing anecdote: I was having dinner with predominantly Theists (or at least, I assume πŸ˜‰ you never know) and, when the conversation turned to immortality, a few of them said “oh no! I wouldn’t want to live forever! That would be boring!”. My immediate thought (which remained unspoken) was, “Wait a second, but you believe in eternal life already… in the afterlife.”

  2. β€œSee you in another life…”

  3. Mary McIntosh said

    On my FB page, one of my friends posted an obituary of a person unknown to my friend. The “headline” under the decedent’s name said, “I told you I was sick”.

  4. Mari said

    ROFL here. Lately all I want is comedy whether I am reading or watching film. Still laughing. Not quite a deathbed comment, but maybe this will give you a chuckle: When I was about ten years old, my parents took their first long vacation and my grandparents stayed with me. As my Papa was enjoying a delicious, garlicky kosher dill pickle, my Grandma cried out: “Harry! Stop eating those!” To which he replied: “Why? You’re not going to kiss me anyway.” (A family favorite!)

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