"In birth, two people go into a room and three come out. In death, one person goes in and none come out. This is a cosmic joke told by Martin Amis. I like the metaphysical absurdity it draws out of the death event, the sense that death doesn’t happen at all—that it is, in fact, the opposite of a happening. There are philosophers who take this joke seriously. To their way of thinking, the only option in the face of death—in facing death’s absurd non-face—is to laugh. This is not the bold, humorless laugh of the triumphant atheist, who conquers what he calls death and his own fear of it. No: this is more unhinged. It comes from the powerless, despairing realization that death cannot be conquered, defied, contemplated, or even approached, because it’s not there; it’s only a word, signifying nothing. It’s a truly funny laugh, of the laughor-you’ll-cry variety. There is “plenty of hope, an infinite amount of hope—but not for us!” This is a cosmic joke told by Franz Kafka, a wisecrack projected into a void."