Wednesday, March 20, 2013

I'm About to Pass Mozart on the Mr. Brame Mortality Index

I'm about to turn 36, at which point I will have spent more time on this earth than Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart did.  If you find that a morbid way to celebrate a birthday, then come on in--we're just getting started.

Please don't get me wrong.  I have a wonderful, happy, fulfilling life. But the day in 2010 that I turned 33 and realized that I had outlived Alexander the Great, I got to thinking about what I had accomplished as a human being, and how I compared to others who had come before me.  Then I started thinking about how a person's existence is nothing but the sum of the life he has shaped for himself, and how death is the inevitable end of every choice we make. And the Mr. Brame Mortality Index was born!

So, here is a look at some memorable historical figures that I have already passed on this Mortality Index, and some others who are looming.  For your entertainment, I have created baseball cards for each of these dead white males.  Can you find where you belong on this list?  

Mr. Brame's Mortality Index #32

Alexander the Great

Born: Macedonia, 356 B.C.E.
Died: Babylon, 323 B.C.E.
Age at death: 32
Cause of death: wounds, illness, alcohol

  • Student of Aristotle
  • King of Macedon
  • Conquerer of the entire known world
  • Founder of 20 cities
  • Main force behind a 200-year period of Hellenization in the Western world

Year I passed him on Mr. Brame's Mortality Index: 2010
When I was 32, I was: married, father to a newborn son, teaching high school, and participant in the Superbowl championship of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Mr. Brame's Mortality Index #33

Jesus Christ

Born: Judea, 3 B.C.E. (I know!  That's crazy, right?  You try explaining that to a room full of eighth graders)
Died: Golgotha, outside Jerusalem, 30 C.E.
Age at death: 33
Cause of death: Romans

      • Gave "Sermon on the Mount"
      • Created Christianity
      • Conquered death (disputed)
Year I passed him on Mr. Brame's Mortality Index: 2011
When I was 33, I was: studying The Canterbury Tales at Yale University

Mr. Brame's Mortality Index #35
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Born: Salzburg, 1756
Died: Vienna, 1791
Age at death: 35
Cause of death: unknown fever or illness (but probably not murder at the hands of Salieri, thanks)

Year I passed him on the mortality index: 2013
When I was 35, I was: part of a family that had grown to four, teaching at the Hebrew academy, writing this blog.

Mr. Brame's Mortality Index #39 
Frederick Chopin

Born: Poland, 1810
Died: Paris, 1849
Age at death: 39
Cause of death: illnesss

Child prodigy
Virtuoso pianist
21 nocturnes, including my favorite, Opus 48
Polonaise Heroic

I will pass Chopin on this index on: March 23, 2016

Mr. Brame's Mortality Index # 40
Edgar Allan Poe

Born: Boston, 1809
Died: Baltimore, 1849
Age at death: 40
Cause of death: Unknown.  Theories include epilepsy, syphilis, alcoholism, rabies infection, and murder


  • Poet
  • Author of dozens of "tales," which served as an exemplar for the modern short story
  • father of the detective story
  • critic
  • "The Tell-Tale Heart"
  • "The Masque of the Red Death"
  • "The Raven"
  • "To Helen"

I will pass Poe on this list on: March 23, 2017

I hope you have enjoyed this mortality index.  To see the baseball cards I used to create these images, click here.

1 comment:

  1. Clemente and Gershwin were both 38. You still have time to become a composition/baseball all-star!