aesthetic/theories magazine
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Blog Posts for Content and Stories in aesthetic/theories

how to get respect, should you die in the public eye


words: musa okwonga

images: samine joudat

unknown girl / whitney museum, nyc

Don’t be Syrian,

Don’t be a working-class black teen;

Be a middle-class kid, preferably white,

from a two-parent home.

Don’t live within reach of a drone.

Don’t be pictured with a joint while alive,

Don’t let your fingers be seen anywhere near a gang sign.

Don’t date a man who hates you with all the breath in his breast

Since, when he eventually kills you, they’ll just say

‘You should have left’.

(On which note,

Don’t die at the hands of a male celebrity

- that never ends well.)

Don’t be Syrian –

you heard us the first time.

If you’re Syrian,

Your problem is that you may die in

a conflict too complex for people to


Or so monotonous in its gore

That they’ll merely throw up their hands.

man in front of mural / downtown, los angeles

man in front of mural / downtown, los angeles


Don’t die a dull Third World death,

Failed by healthcare,

In a land where diarrhea is lethal as


Don’t die a death that fascinates people,

Or your existence will be chopped up and


Fed back to us as pop culture.

Don’t die a death where we risk getting


By the fact your suspected killers

Are particularly attractive.

When you die,

Make sure we can relate to you.

Do some charity or some public service.

We’re busy. We need to know quickly

That you weren’t worthless.

If you don’t die how we like

Then you’ll be killed twice:

The first time, when you lose your life

And the second time, when the world

destroys your memory as well –

You see, our affections abandon nothing

more swiftly

Than a story that’s not easy to tell.

art by daniel joseph martinez / moca, los angeles

art by daniel joseph martinez / moca, los angeles