The Obituarist

Jordan von Manalastas has left for the undiscovered country, and we are all the poorer for it.

Many are they today who say, for lack of better way to express their middling passions, that they are “about that life.” Of the Obituarist (as Jordan von Manalastas came to be called) and his singular morbidity, the same could not be said.

For years he graced our columns with the grandeur of gloom and joie de mort that were the hallmarks of his exquisite obituaries, emblazoning such deaths diverse as Princess Di, your grandmother, and numberless collateral of all the President’s drones.

“Jordan von Manalastas’ obituaries are painful, wistful and bleak,” blurbed author Gary Shteyngart. “This visionary writer teaches us The Way We Die Now.”

His bleakness was rivaled by none. Upon the premature publication of Osama bin Laden’s obit., the mass-murderous jihadist tweeted, “Jordan von Manalastas makes our ‘cult of death’ look like an infidel-brat’s temper tantrum. We can only hope to reach such depths of nihilism, insha’Allah (s.w.t.).”

In life, he was known as the Great Equalizer: for all who fell within the province of his pen existed not as human beings, but simply as the sum of our collective recollections.

Once the darling of the Christian right, who hailed his 2008 piece “R.I.P. Moral Decency,” the Obituarist estranged many would-be friends with the annual springtime publishing of “God Is Dead.” The Obituarist took great pains to insist on journalistic objectivity.

The opportunity arose in 2013 to prove his peerless integrity, when the Obituarist received news of his own death. To read one’s own obituary is a luxury few have known; to write it is another thing entirely, sources say.

Initially, the Obituarist despaired that he should die without having truly lived, and wrote a spirited Letter to the Editor expressing just as much.

“There is something brutal and sadistic in summing up a person’s life into a few short, A.P.-approved paragraphs,” the Obituarist wrote. “Do we exist only insofar as some obituary remembers?” The Editor in Chief was not available to comment.

With the deadline fast approaching, the Obituarist resolved perhaps the point of human life was merely to fill the margins of a dying print industry. Life, of course, was little more than a brief summary; in the cosmic scheme of things no one exists beyond what is thereof written, sources confirm.

Ever elegant and tasteful, Jordan von Manalastas, aged 23, spared the details of his death and passed quite unceremoniously.

No record remains of him, except for this obituary. The Obituarist is survived by none—or we are all his hapless inheritors.

For Zoie.
Ithaca, 2013.

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