Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Michael Jackson's Curious Coffin

We received this e-mail on the 4th of July from Jessica M., who was clearly avoiding getting a sunburn. We were amused by her rant and are reproducing her comments in their entirety because Michael Jackson is being laid to rest today and it seemed as inappropriate as everything else related to his untimely death:

Soooo, it appears information about Jackson's casket have been released. Alas, the attention to detail in the coffin was not used on the reporting. It appears that this is a "custom casket" and that "This is the same casket used to bury James Brown."

Now I know I'm a word nerd, but this leaves me with two impressions: (I'll get to my issues with the name of the casket in a moment)

A) this is not really a custom casket in the normal usage of the phrase, since this "Promethean" model is made for others who can afford it...but, I'll leave them alone on that one since they didn't say "one of a kind."


B) "THE SAME CASKET USED TO BURY JAMES BROWN!?!?!" .....ummmmm, OK, that's a little unusual, No?
Did they dig him up so they could use the same casket again? Sorry reporters, this one I can't let slide. Perhaps "the same model of casket" or "a similar casket" would have been more accurate reporting.
Then again, they do say the casket is "extremely rare" and I suppose if Jackson is getting to use the exact same casket that James Brown is/was in then that would, really and truly - be very, very, very rare. It's also just the sort of weird thing Jackson might have wanted. Therefore, when dealing with someone as strange as Michael Jackson, it really seems best to be very specific.

Michael Jackson's $25,000 Custom Casket
Jul 2nd 2009 6:22PM
A $25,000, solid bronze, 14-karat gold plated, custom
casket has been ordered for Michael Jackson.The casket -- ordered last night from Batesville Casket Company -- is called a Promethean and will feature a flame blue velvet interior and a hand-polished, mirror finish.This is the same casket used to bury James Brown... and is extremely rare.

The rest of this e-mail has nothing to do with picking on the news. Now I'd like to pick on casket makers:

I have to question the Batesville Casket Company's wisdom on naming the casket the "Promethean." I don't know about you, but for me this brings to mind the titan of the same name chained to a rock, having his liver eaten daily by a huge bird as punishment by Zeus for giving humans fire. "Promethean" seems like a better name for a model of urn because of the whole fire thing...maybe...but nobody asked me.

There is also the small trouble of a Promethean usually being a soulless shell, either made from clay or other "parts." Clearly this was what Marry Shelley took away from the name Promethean - her famous book is actually titled "Frankenstein: a The Modern Prometheus" but most current publications have dropped the subtitle. Perhaps it's just me, but I don't want my loved ones and Promethean to be linked together in my mind.

In other awesomeness, "Promethean: The Created" is a video game that has this description:
A Promethean is created from the corpse of a human by a creator; in certain cases, desired components from more than one corpse are combined into a single end-product. Very rarely, otherwise inanimate matter may be used, making a sort of magical android similar to a
Golem but with considerably greater variation in form and composition. The Promethean is not human, in either the physiological or cognitive sense. It is a corpse that walks, its autonomic functions and soul replaced by the power of the Divine Fire. While the Divine Fire allows him to pass as a human from a distance, it does not make up for the lack of a soul. When a Promethean spends enough time around humans, the humans begin to fall prey to Disquiet, the feeling that there is something not just fundamentally different, but utterly wrong about the Promethean. Disquiet initially manifests itself as distrust or avoidance of the Promethean; at its worst, it can blossom into mindless rage that can only be abated by the death of the Promethean. Different Promethean Lineages generate different manifestations of Disquiet, each with their own enervating effect on the local environment and population. Disquiet affects more than just mortals; a Promethean who spends too long in one place will find the landscape and environment itself becoming tainted by his Disquiet, eventually turning into a Wasteland. Leaving the tainted zone far behind allows the land to eventually heal, but it does require the Promethean to keep on the move.

Since the video game was made back in 2006, they clearly weren't talking about Michael Jackson, but still...

Thanks for joining me on my random proofreading and Promethean coffin name tangent!

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