The anonymity of death

4 min readNov 1, 2022

PD: What does it mean to be anonymous?

AK: Being anonymous might have a direct impact with death. How can one go into ‘being anonymous’? Is it about not leaving any trace of past movements? Does not being anonymous mean operating from a clean slate each time?

PD: I have played with being anonymous in the past by using a number of pseudonyms and I always found that there was fear behind it in some form or another. In justifying my right to anonymity, it feels that I was really protecting myself from all sorts of imagined difficulties in my relationship to the rest of society. But this fact that one protects oneself in a relationship is itself an anonymous fact — it doesn’t have a name to it, belonging to one person or another. So there seems to be a difference between the desire for anonymity and anonymity per se. There is the idea of anonymity as a cloak or a cover; and there is the fact of anonymity which is wide open to the world. Can we love one another anonymously? Does that work? Or it is only by coming out into the open that we discover together the anonymity of love.

In the same way, then, to discover together the anonymity of death and the anonymity of the clean slate. It is not my death or my clean slate. Is this the difference? When we artificially induce or make claim to a clean slate there is motive behind it, so it is no longer an anonymous clean slate. And when death is seen as my death or the death of one to whom I am deeply attached, then it becomes impossible to perceive the truth about it.

DS: Are you saying that to die, or to be a real nobody, totally anonymous — this necessarily entails being naked and visible to all?

PD: I have no idea. But I don’t think we’ll get at it that way. This is first of all a question of psychological anonymity, isn’t it? Is this any different from psychological death? What I mean is that we shall not learn anything about this by listening to the words of other people. The words, the explanations, the descriptions, the entreaties, the subtle arguments, the rational or the irrational statements, the stories, the manifestos and even the most carefully delineated yet passionate poetry — none of this is the way into death or love or anonymity. We can’t use that which is present in order to explain that which is absent.


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