Denial of Death
I am re-reading Ernest Becker's 1973 Pulitzer Prize Winning non-fiction book "Denial of Death", though I'm not sure exactly why, frankly. As I finished the first three chapters, that old familiar anxiety began returning as I felt my breathing getting more shallow, the hair on my neck and arms standing up and in a state of absolute terror. H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe are light comedy compared to this existential nuclear bomb. After reading it about six or seven years ago now, I was in a state of complete panic for weeks. I was absolutely unprepared for what it had to say, and found myself completely revealed, stripped bare by all the energy I had put into necessary repression of the fear of dying. Real horror to me always seems to have something to do with the impending and unrelenting nature of death. I could not begin to sumarize his theories, except to say that I fully agree that man's entire edifice of society and culture are built on the rocky foundation of immortality, which is nothing more than our biological and organismic denial of our tragic fate and inevitable oblivion. He maintains that the position that man has to endure is nothing more than the journey of the heroic as he recognizes his end and yet is incapable of accepting it. Our entire culture has created small monuments to disarming this truth and in that falsity perpetuates our existential crisis of life on this planet.
I can't remember if he has a solution to the problem. Oh yeah...more repression, I think.
Remember, this was written in 1973, when the author was dying and just a blink of an eye after Watergate. The Sixties had just ended with it's radical shift in conciousness fueled by LSD and Speed (not given enough coverage), Marijuana was really getting going and there was incredible disillusionment with this culture. I don't know the man personally, his references to Frued, Rank and others is substantial. But all I'm saying is you can't remove an individual from the society he is in at the time.
Yet the book is still unbearably creepy and gets under my skin, heating it up with nightmare stuff.
I like being scared sometimes I think.