Detlev Six
Wednesday January 25th, 2012

Carpe Mortem, Play Tombstone Hold’em.

Rounded =Hearts.
Pointy =Spades.
Flat= Diamonds.

Statue on Top=Clubs.
Now the colours are clear. The value of a card is supplied by the last digit of the time of death. Consequently, 1935 is a Five,. 1931 a one for an Ace. If there are more than two names to a tombstone, then its a Jack. Three names are a Queen, four or more a King.
The game can commence.

You play it like Texas Hold’em, just reverted. First, you lay out five normal poker cards openly and let the players give their stake. Then the players look for the two cards lying on their faces in the form of a tombstone on the cemetary. Players always .come in pairs, because only two partners can manage the following stunt: they can select random tombstones as their cards if, well, if they can find a live, full bridge between the two tombstones. So if two tombstones are supposed to play together, the hand of one partner can, for instance, be on the tombstone, the foot can have contact with the foot of the partner, who then has to touch the second tombstone at least with his fingertip.

Should anybody be  allowed to play this sort of game? Aren’t we, again, dealing with a case of calculated taboo breaking? Is now even the dignity of a cemetary no longer a sacred thing?

Well, you could argue in favour of this opinion. But then, you could also argue totally differently. When I first read the report on Tombstone Hold’em, I was spontaneously reminded of how Steve Jobs treated the concept of death (see my post “Death as a Management Tool” – Der Tod als Management Tool), along with a comment that was ingrained in my brains like no other. Like with Jobs, it was about how someone knew he was suffering from cancer and therefore looked upon and appreciated life in a totally new way. The gist was that Carpe Diem should, in fact, read Carpe Mortem.

We keep death at a distance like children keep the world at a distance by putting their hands before their eyes. But our life is worthless without death. To be sure, philosophers such as Plato, Buddha and Epicur described it like this, but they never managed to reach the humans with their concept. It took the Americans with their famous pragmatic attitude. Instead of keeping death locked up in hard-core philosophical ideas, they opened it up to the game. Hundreds of persons played Tombstone Hold’em and thousands saw them doing it. The author of the game, McGonigal (the drawing is also by her) not only organized the game on cemetaries all over the world, but also questioned all the parties concerned afterwards. There was quite some criticism. Even hard criticism. But there was also something else: relief.

Well, death has no easy standing in life. We should therefore make it easier for him – for our own good.

(Translated by EG)

4 Kommentare zu “Carpe Mortem, Play Tombstone Hold’em.”

  1. Chris Wood (Wednesday January 25th, 2012)

    Can you explain why life without death is worth nothing? One could answer “because it does not exist”. A primitive being that reproduces by cloning, can be said to die only when the last copy dies. Anyway, it seems that everything will die in the end.
    Does this mean that a life suddenly acquires a value at the moment of death? How is this value calculated?
    Sorry, but I react allergically to silly sayings of ignorant old philosophers, when these are presented as wise.

  2. KH (Wednesday January 25th, 2012)

    Besonders der letzte Satz gefällt mir…

  3. six (Thursday January 26th, 2012)


    “Dabei ist unser Leben ohne den Tod nichts wert.”

    Der Satz ist von keinem Philosophen, er ist selbstverständlich, es gehört nur ein wenig Phantasie dazu, sich auszumalen, was ohne Tod wäre.

    Das Leben wäre endlos.
    Wir hätten unbegrenzt Zeit.
    Alles, was im Überfluss zur Verfügung steht, ist nichts wert.
    Erst der Mangel macht den Wert.
    Hätten wir alle Geld ohne Ende, würde niemand mehr etwas herstellen oder verkaufen.

    Aber zurück zum Leben ohne Tod.
    Nehmen wir an, ein Physiker gewinnt den Nobelpreis.
    Er ist sich ziemlich sicher, dass dies der Höhepunkt seines wissenschaftlichen Lebens ist.
    Er vermutet stark, dass er keinen zweiten Nobelpreis mehr gewinnen wird.
    Ohne Tod hätte er dazu eine gute Chance.
    Vielleicht nicht in den nächsten 100 Jahren.
    Aber vielleicht in den nächsten Tausend.
    Wenn er dann 10 Nobelpreise in seinem Trophäenschrank stehen hat, wird ihn der 11. nicht mehr vom Hocker hauen.
    Er könnte sich nach einem Tod sehnen, der ihn von der Langeweile erlöst.

    Heute kann ein Leben zwischen 80 und 90 Jahren und dem Wissen um unsere begrenzte Zeit, bei bewußter Einbeziehung des Todes in unser Leben, für sehr wertvolle Momente sorgen.

    Zuviel Phantasie?

    “Phantasie ist wichtiger als Wissen, denn Wissen ist begrenzt”

    Hat übrigens kein Philosoph gesagt, sondern Albert Einstein.

  4. Chris Wood (Thursday January 26th, 2012)

    Dear Six, it is very kind of you to take my comment so seriously.
    I thought you claimed that Plato, Buddha and Epicurus had written that about death. I agree that life could get boring if it lasted for ever, but I find that a curry or a beer still tastes good even if nothing about it is original. And I am anew happy when the birds start their spring singing each year.
    As far as I know, these three philosophers believed in immortal Gods. They would hardly have dared to describe the Gods’ lives as worthless.

    So Einstein made a mistake as a philosopher, and even as a scientist. If knowledge is limited, then so is fantasy. Both could only be unlimited in an infinite universe.
    Don’t take things on trust, even from Einstein. He rejected aspects of quantum theory that are now well established.

Kommentar verfassen