Oh Wow. Oh Wow. Oh Wow.

Final words have had what Karl Rahner refers to as an axiological presence in literature, biographies, and scientific research since Julian of Norwich recognized them as expressions of “preparation of the soul for death and afterlife”. Ontological articulations on the nature of death prompted Leo Tolstoy’s character Ivan Ilych to ask, “So where shall I be when I am no more?”Ivan Ilych answered his own question when he saw the light beyond death and said, “So that’s what it is. What Joy! Death is finished. It is no more!” Elizabeth Barrett Browning sighed, “Beautiful,” to her husband who was by her side at her final hour, and James Joyce questioned, “Does nobody understand?” No, Mr. Joyce; yet, we desperately seek understanding for as Walt Whitman observed, final words of passage are “valuable beyond measure to confirm and endorse the varied train, facts, theories, and faith of the whole preceding life”. Hence, it is no wonder why people are fascinated with Steve Jobs’s last words to his sister Mona Simpson: “Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow”. Upon hearing (reading) Steve Jobs’s final words, we are naturally curious as to whether these final two words, symbolically repeated three times, can grant us any insight about our human experience and what happens at the moments preceding death.

Mary Cappelli

Full text (PDF): “Oh Wow. Oh Wow. Oh Wow” Ontological Contexts and Transconceptual Interpretations of Death and Dying, Mary Cappelli

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