China simulated death markets in everything

Beijing’s biggest funeral parlor held an open day last Thursday that featured a virtual reality simulation of death, reported The Beijing News — though it left some wondering why you would want to experience death prematurely.

Visitors could don VR glasses and earphones to experience having a seizure at work, a failed paramedic rescue, and entrance into the afterlife. Funeral parlor employee Dong Ziyi told The Beijing News that the immersive experience “enables people to better cherish the beauty of life.”

In addition to the death experience, visitors can use VR to explore funeral services with a five-minute session that goes through corpse delivery and storage, mortuary preparations, the memorial service, and cremation — a tour that would take an hour in real life.

Here is more by Liang Chenyu from Sixth Tone, one of my favorite media outlets.


How comparable to a pedestrian fictional account might the VR "death experience narrative" be? (I suspect the VR narrative would face temporal limitations much sooner than any typical fictional account.)

Sixth Tone is valuable but should still be viewed as subtle state propaganda.

Do tell more! I had no idea. I also thought the site was great after TC recommended it but had assumed it was independent.

According to the "About Us" page, it belongs to Shanghai United Media Group, which is state-owned.

Below are a few links and excerpts:

"The government is trying to extend its reach online, too. Last year a government-affiliated media group spent 30m yuan ($4.35m) to launch a free, English-language website called Sixth Tone. It tries to sell China’s message by being more sassy, and sometimes more critical, than other state media. "

FP discusses the balancing act:

A Blog on omissions are more powerful than what they write on:

Who said the Chinese weren't innovative?

Joe Biden.

Not me! But I do note that this seems very similar to earlier offers in South Korea.

Death markets? How about allowing physicians to prescribe off-label drugs to their patients. Life imitating art.

For the afterlife aspect, they should randomly subject individuals to a VR version of Joyce's description of Hell from "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man"

"I wouldn't have thought my position in the afterlife would have depended so much on whether I bought the deluxe funeral package or not."

People's position in the hereafter doesn't depend on the opulence of the coffin/funeral you may, or may not, be able to afford. More likely it's your voting record. I'm pretty sure you won't be going to Heaven if you voted democrat.

I think Dante would place them in Circle Eight, Bolgia Six - The Hypocrites.

The colors coordinate better the other way ; wonder why fires are always Red in paintings.

I'd be more keen to bet on the idea that those who make efforts to categorize people around them as hell bound have a way prepared for them by King Minos.

I'm old enough to remember the great (damned) NY Yankee teams of the 1950's and 1960's. Among the few players that didn't need to work at Sears in the off-season were Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford. They invested in small business with such bad luck that the joke was, "If Ford and Mantle bought a funeral parlor, people would stop dying."

If they had just gotten good at this just a bit earlier David Carradine might be with us today.

Of course people do seek out experiences that they think like dying, from the “little death” to the sorts of ego-dissolution provided by certain mystical practices, meditation, powerful hallucinogens, and prolonged inquiry into whether or not Strauss’s teachings contain an abnegatory esotericism.

I’m not sure the seekers would seek out an experience actually like dying, especially more than once. I’ve only had a really front-row seat for one death, but it looked extremely unpleasant, despite the fact that the person involved had been unconscious for hours before she woke just to die, and had come to peace with her coming death. The spirit is willing, but the flesh does not easily give up.

TLDR; Dying might turn out to be the worst thing you ever experience, but things people think like dying, without much evidence, can be among your most significant experiences. So you should seek out experiences described as like dying. With, perhaps, the exceptions of current Chinese VR simulations of death and excessive meditations on Strauss’s own esotericism, because both are probably just going to give you a headache.

And I should add that I’d also avoid experiences described as “like dying” that describe the experience of people actually close to death. No one enjoys those experiences, even if there is no very good way of knowing if they are like actually dying.

For instance, I remember that some older fellow climbed K2 a while back (in remembrance of his mother, I guess) and posted while coming down “I’m dying” or such, because apparently you can post to social media while dying on K2. And he was right- he was dying, and his companions barely got him down, but he lived. I admire him in many ways- put me where he was and I’d be dead, even with his companions.

But, first I’m not sure that he found out what dying is really like, and second other metaphors and similes for death seem to be more fun, so i’m inclined to recommend reading the Tibetan Book of the Dead while candy-flipping in a strip-mall over climbing K2.

Well said, Severian, I think you have understood the phenomenon in question well and your comment was very amusing (I really need to reread my favorite passages in the book I think you borrowed your name from - the conversations with Dorcas, to start with, and those days in that city with the cliffs full of buildings towering over that river - Severian had the most interesting friends of any character in any novel I remember).

The Christian view of dying is often misrepresented. The doctors of the Church have expressed the view that it is good to fear death because "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" and death is not exactly an event that has an escape clause for people who do not want to confront the Lord; but the doctors of the Church have also made clear that it is good to (humbly, and only if it is God's will) welcome death (if one is not in a state of mortal sin) because of the promises of eternal life from the only Person who cared about us and about those we love with real unmistaken powerful love, i.e. God.

Some saints have wanted to put off death because with death comes an end to earthly suffering and without earthly suffering we have less to give for those we care about. The last years of many saints on earth are, in this sense, indistinguishable from their first years in heaven. They were, we are told, of course blessed when they spent their first moments in heaven but they were equally blessed suffering on earth, because God takes on our sufferings for us, and God cares. None of this has anything to do with stained glass windows, except very indirectly, and many non-christian religions have taught similar truths.

To be a little more cheerful about all this, there is an awful lot of happiness in this world. There is an unimaginable amount of suffering, too. But nobody has to personally take on all the suffering, which is no solace to people who suffer an extreme amount, of course, but those people are not going to be consoled by words on an internet comment thread anyway, only God can make their hearts whole again. I can recommend good cigars, I can recommend good California wines that cost less than the minimum hourly wage per bottle, I can recommend ways to become more appreciative of art (well, not so much Neanderthal cave art, but pretty much anything from Mycenean tailoring to Art Deco motorcycles and West Coast jazz), a good local post-Jungian analyst, I can recommend the best spiritual adviser in town, I can recommend all sorts of things, and most people reading this can also recommend a long list of useful and wonderful things, but only God can make whole a heart that has suffered too much for any heart to bear. (Like mine, for example, but prayerful silence is the best thing I or anyone I know in real life can say about that here in 2018). Feliz Miercoles.

This sort of marketing stunt has been flying around East Asia for a couple decades. It is probably a part of modernization and getting past the ghost fear stage. Japan, HK, S’pore Korea, Thailand... it seems to run in a pattern. Somebody could probably get a good dissertation out of this without having to actually spend time in any place that is actually too awful. My tip is to skip the Philippines, too much data and not exotic enough to impress.

I doubt many hiring committees were reading the Asian Wall Street Journal in the 90s, so it might even help in the job market.

I'm getting a bit impatient with the progress of VR. I've not invested in any equipment of my own yet, but I have tried it a couple of times. It is amazing and the potential is there. Just not enough people have tried it yet to know what is out there. (Google Cardboard doesn't count.)

While this death example seems silly, it is this possibility of having a different experience or seeing something that I'd never be able to do myself that I'm looking forward to: Tour a factory, ride in a blimp, sit in various sports stadiums around the world, walk the streets of Hong Kong, visit the Taj Mahal ....

Wonderful idea!

If done properly then one could check out who was and was not crying at your funeral, and then adjust your Last Will accordingly ;)

Comments for this post are closed