“[T]he core of our humanity lies in the belief that the essence of the soul is its mockery of death.” Stark Young, “Not in Memoriam, But in Defense,” I’ll Take My Stand: The South and the Agrarian Tradition.
I’ll Take My Stand is one of the greatest collection of essays of all time, and that quote is one of the best quotes from that collection.
I even think it’s accurate. The soul is the essence of our being, and the essence of the soul is immortality. Hence, it is a mockery of death. Because it mocks death, it gives dignity to our existence. It gives us our humanity.
Young’s essay proceeds to touch on a lot of truths that emanate from that core truth: the importance of leisure, the goodness of local attachment, the need to detach oneself from conventional opinion and money. I don’t think he talked about the goodness of ale and wine, but he easily could’ve slipped it in. It would’ve been a natural off-shoot of the things he writes about.