What the American Funeral Says About the Australian Industry

    The concept of the American funeral comes from the Australian funeral industry, it is because of the industry that it has a presence.  Which I find amusingly ironic in a sense, how the American funeral is considered an ever-present threat to the Australian funeral, and yet it can only exist directly because of the Australian funeral; without the Australian industry there would be no American funeral.

    This might be a bit of a confusing or doubtful thought, so let me break down the reasoning behind this. A Hegelian style argument would be that one exists in opposition to another, that definition and understanding of one thing is drawn from not being another things.  For example; good is not evil, left is not right; or with identity, you are not me and thus you are you.  Furthermore, the things we are not are just as important as the things we are, such as I am not a baker, I am not female, I am not a child, etc.  These things we are not inform us as to what we are.

    Now, if we apply this to the funeral industry we can uncover something quite interesting and informative.  That the American funeral concept begins to say something about how Australian funerals are viewed, especially with regards to perceptions from the Australian funeral industry and those within it.  The American funeral says more about the Australian industry than anything American or foreign.

    The Australian industry sees the American funeral as a polar opposite to itself, that the American funeral is everything the Australian funeral is not.  Or more accurately, the American funeral is everything the Australian industry should not be, should never be.

    It gets a little 'abstract' here, so just let me explain.  As previously noted in this post the American funeral exists only as a concept in the minds of the Australian undertakers, it is not a real thing.  As such it can never exist; for it is contradictory to Australian society, and if it ever did our understanding of it would chance.  We would simply change the definition without realising, without meaning to, back to something which was not actually part of the Australian industry.

    So in essence the American funeral does not demonstrate what is directly.  It cannot be used to explore the Australian industry as it actually is simply through the concept of the American funeral alone.  But it still illustrates something about the current Australian industry (and society), and that is our desires.  The American funeral speaks directly about the desires and ideas of the Australian industry.

To the Australian industry the American funeral is everything it should not be, it encompasses all the potential negatives of the Australian industry.  How we do not want our funerals (and funeral industry) to be certain, very specific things.  By looking closely at the aspects which define the American funeral we can see exactly what we do not want in Australian funerals and the funeral industry.

    We do not want our funerals, and by extension industry, to be a modern profit driven and efficient yet cold system.  Which dishes out standard inauthentic and impersonal funerals that are deliberately kept simple.  The features used to define the American funeral are the same features seen as highly negative and that should be avoided.

    More interestingly, if we invert the definition of the American funeral we can see what is desirable of the Australian industry and funerals.  That the funeral industry should provide personal and individual funerals which are authentic and grounded not only in the deceased and mourner, but also in current social reality.  With a rich tradition based on a long and meaningful history.

    In essence we desire the UK funeral (or British funeral to some).  I have found some Australian undertakers who talk of the UK funeral as a very desirable thing, describing it as based on meaningful and almost artistic practices dating back to the Victorian era.  A quick example of this is with turning the coffin clockwise to symbolise the passage of time, the turning of clock hands.  Two different undertakers have said how they believe it comes from a "historic" and "British" tradition.  Even though neither had any evidence for this at all one way or the other.

    So by looking at what the American funeral is and how it is described by the Australian industry, we get a very clear understanding of what the industry does and does not want.  The American funeral is a window into the Australian industry.

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