Death's following : mediocrity, dirtiness, adulthood, by John Limon

By John Limon

"Almost all twentieth-century philosophy stresses the immanence of loss of life in human life-as force (Freud), because the context of Being (Heidegger), because the essence of our defining ethics (Levinas), or as language (de guy, Blanchot). In Death's Following, John Limon uses literary research (of Sebald, Bernhard, and Stoppard), cultural research, and autobiography to argue that demise is healthier conceived as always Read more...

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Argues that demise is healthier conceived as continually transcendentally past ourselves, neither immanent nor imminent Read more...

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Even when we feel the truth of it, we cannot feel the thing itself. Since the death simulator in Denver serves no practical purpose— simulation of anything but death might be beneficial to a pilot—the point must be that those in death’s way crave foreknowledge of it, as in Eliot; and perhaps the simulator fails by only providing hallucinatory images that leave pilots thirsting. The most sensational literary death simulator is the doppelgänger story. ” If the shared idea is that the dreaded rejected death vengefully 34 Text and Doctrine: Adulthood and Dirtiness returns to be seen, nevertheless we can produce an inverse theory: that the doppelgänger story produces the face of one’s own death so that its eyes can be stared into.

Because they are children on the cusp. How can they learn it? By looking at two guards, two tormentors, two home invaders. What do the two others deliver to inform them? An unappreciated birthday surprise; a dirty trick. What is the birthday surprise? One is born into filth. Of what does the dirtiness of the dirty trick consist? Of a universal logic (one is not exempt) reduced to a singular corruption (one is excluded). What keeps the trick from transforming into a joke? The lack of an elder, a magister mortis, to lead each one (by way of leading each one on) to the universal logic of their singular corruption.

Time is rationalized; it has an arrow, but the arrow leads not toward disorder (and crime and dirt) but toward transparent, negentropic communication (and cleansing). This would seem to be the case of logicians who are deathless because they are logic itself, themselves. The scene is remarkable for its orderly, suburban, old WASP delicacy. Graduate students work without pay (the contrary of burglars); they work in a garden (even their dirt is garden dirt—no question of soot here); they drink lemonade; each is too polite to mention to the others that they are dirty; their thinking is perfectly untainted by distractions, as if it went on in silent, protected, perfect (the professor’s kids are away at summer camp) domestic space.

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