THE AFFIRMATION OF DEATH

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Abstract

Finitude as an affirmative moment is what stands at the center of this paper. While death cannot be represented or conceptualized, it is present in events of death in the life of an individual and of a society. Here we look at formations split between the presencing of death and death’s denial or deferral as ways of symbolizing death as imminently present and certain for those who live. Death is affirmed as what cannot be known, represented, or imagined. Based on the Freudian death drive and its interpretation, I look into poetic and philosophical instances of this idea of affirmation: from Freud’s dreams of dead people who return to the scene of the living, through inventive modes of recounting death in its singular occurrence, to modes of presencing death in war, mourning, melancholia, and tragedy as well as in philosophical ideas regarding the necessary, irreducible presence of death in language or culture. All these work as symbolic formations that enact the presence of death in the form of denial. The disruptive presence of death in the life of a culture and of singular life, the presence of what is necessary yet cannot be known or represented, attests to the irreducible inclination of the human psyche toward its ownmost death.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-59
Number of pages13
JournalAngelaki - Journal of the Theoretical Humanities
Volume27
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2022

Keywords

  • Agamben
  • Derrida
  • Heidegger
  • Lacan
  • death drive
  • denial
  • life/death

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