PRINT September 1994


the Afterlife

HAVING DRAWN NEARLY his last breath, Pennsylvania native W. C. Fields looked the Grim Reaper in the eye and quipped the transcendent epitaph, “On the whole, I’d rather be in Philadelphia.” On the occasion of the recent opening of the Andy Warhol Museum in the artist’s hometown, we popped the question: given the option, would Andy rather be in Pittsburgh?

ARTHUR C. DANTO (philosopher/art critic): It was a witty thing that W. C. Fields wanted on his tombstone: Philadelphia as an alternative to death. It makes me think of the point in the Odyssey when Achilles met Odysseus in the underworld and said, “I would rather be a slave among the living than the king of spirits in the underworld.” I don’t think Philadelphia would rank as low in Fields’ scheme of things as slavery; that’s as low as you can get in the land of the living. So given the alternative, yes, I guess Andy would prefer Pittsburgh

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