We all think about death. But can death be an expression of Eros? This is one aspect of what Dr Andreas Weber explores in his work. Weber is a biophilosopher, writer, and marine biologist, whose work explores ecosystems as love stories; reclaiming love into all our interactions with the more-than-human world.
When we die, the common narrative is to believe we disappear, that our bodies dissolve into nothing, and life ceases to exist. Yet for Weber, death is an initiation, a form of transformation into something new, something equally alive. To transform is to surrender to Eros; to the constant shifts and changes which are woven into life on Earth — death being one of these transitions.
The welcoming of death as a means of giving new life, goes against the dominant individualistic understanding of how we currently interact with the world. However, Weber invites us to consider a more nuanced approach, to allow our individualism to be dissolved by our love and compassion for our more-than-human kin. When we tunnel vision into individualistic survival-mode, we lose sight of the inherent interconnectedness of what it means to live in co-collaboration with others. Our survival — and beyond that, our thriving and abundance — is reliant on this co-collaboration and sense of care.
I have been exploring this idea of creating a culture of care, whether that be through food, acts of service, the relationships we foster with others — where interdependency and care are celebrated. The Eros which I am drawn to is the one where our cultures are built on respect, reciprocity, and a more equitable future where the abundance of the natural world is shared, a two-way exchange, and not kept for the select few. Through Weber’s interpration of Eros, I believe this can be possible. Death becomes a gift; to give away parts of ourselves to nurture the life of another.
In their conversation, Sophie Strand and Weber discussed the relationship of self and body with other beings, as a means for welcoming in new life, as Strand states:
“I remember watching a deer’s body decompose and become not just one deer story, but bacterial, fungal, beetles—many different stories. So death is the moment when life overflows its cup and gets too big for one shape. But the problem I think, with the way we’re living right now is that we don’t know how to make ourselves food.”#
As Weber notes, death is a “biological necessity”. In order for life to exist, we need death to contribute to the life of another. Matter decomposes into nutrients and new life for other beings, feeding the web of life. In this sense, we all return to our natural state — becoming edible, becoming soil, becoming food. This notion of food as care is something I explore in my writing and newsletter; it’s fascinating to see and understand this with new eyes through Weber’s work. Ultimately, it’s not just about us, it’s about others and our relationship with the more-than-human world, as Weber adds:
Life is not about us first. And, that’s in my eyes, profoundly misguided. In betting only on individual survival, wellbeing, sheltering, of keeping yourself dry, at the expense of others, unfortunately, we lose, actually, what life is, after all… what life is about.#
If the self can only come about through continuous transformation, it needs to constantly shed its form and emerge anew. Therefore, transformation doesn’t have to be an ending; rather as we shift and morph into something new, we are also keeping the self alive in part through this transition into a new identity. This is the erotic process. Love is transformation. Love is death. Love is breathing. Love is decomposition. Love is making ourselves into something edible.