Today, August 5th, is the 50th anniversary of Marilyn Monroe's death. What follows is a post from 13 June 2009.
Thomas Merton, Journal (IV, 240), writing about Marilyn Monroe around the time of her death in 1962:
. . .the death was as much a symbol as the bomb – symbol of uselessness and of tragedy, of misused humanity.
He’s right of course: Monroe’s was a life wasted on glamour, sexiness, and frivolity. She serves as a lovely
warning: Make good use of your human incarnation! Be in the flesh, but not of the flesh.
The fascination with empty celebrity, a fascination as inane as its object, says something about what we have become in the West. We in some measure merit the revulsion of the Islamic world. We value liberty, and rightly, but we fail to make good use of it as Marilyn and Anna Nicole Smith failed to make good use of their time in the body. Curiously enough, a failure to make good use of one's time in the body often leads to its early destruction, and with it, perhaps, the possibility of spiritual improvement.
Curiously, Merton and Carradine both died in Bangkok, the first of accidental electrocution on 10 December 1968, the second a few days ago apparently of autoerotic asphyxiation. The extremity and perversity of the latter practice is a clear proof of the tremendous power of the sex drive to corrupt and derange the human spirit if it is allowed unfettered expression. One with any spiritual sensitivity and depth ought to shudder at the thought of ending his life in the manner of Carradine, in the heteronomy and diremption of the flesh, utterly enslaved to one's lusts, one's soul emptied out into the dust. To risk one's very life in pursuit of intensity of orgasm shows a mind unhinged. Thinking of Carradine's frightful example, one ought to pray, as Merton did thousands of times: Ora pro nobis peccatoribus. Nunc et in hora mortis.