[ilds] Death as Reality

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at gmail.com
Mon Jan 4 14:57:26 PST 2016

I append Richard Pine’s comment below.  I agree with James Gifford that death is one of Durrell’s major concerns.  I would argue that death in Durrell takes the form of suicide, his own in particular.  Ian MacNiven at OMG in Vancouver had a telling anecdote about driving with him in Provence.  Durrell would point to a tree and say something to the effect, “Shall I drive into that one?”  As to Catholics dismissing death because of belief in the Hereafter, I don’t believe it.  I am a Catholic, and death’s reality is indisputable, unless you’re a child and think yourself immortal.  As Wordsworth wrote, “Nothing was more difficult for me in childhood than to admit the notion of death as a state applicable to my own being.”  He grew up and changed his mind, however much he tried to compensate.  Read the ode on “Intimations of Immortality.”  It’s not convincing.  In Durrell, death is omnipresent.


-----Original Message-----
From: mail at durrelllibrarycorfu.org <mailto:mail at durrelllibrarycorfu.org> [mailto:mail at durrelllibrarycorfu.org <mailto:mail at durrelllibrarycorfu.org>]
Sent: Sunday, January 3, 2016 10:04 AM
To: 'Rony Alfandary'
Subject: Re: [ilds] ILDS Digest, Vol 104, Issue 22

Roman Catholics,   of whom I am NOT one (and many other adherents of many other religions and faiths) would argue with you that death is not a reality, it is merely a membrane between one kind of idea and another, and therefore not real at all. I'm sure you will find Derrida'S posthumous "On Death" in your local library. (Only joking) Like others, I am so bored with these discussions and with the intransigence of the so-called intellectual community that I am devoting myself to more interesting and rewarding pursuits. This has been a waste of a fiction called "time!.

> On Jan 3, 2016, at 1:49 AM, Rony Alfandary <alfandary at gmail.com> wrote:
> fascinating stuff. I know of Becker but never read that book. I am more acquainted with Rank's attempt to introduce the death anxiety both as a theoretical issue and as a practical measure to limit the length of psychoanalytic treatments. I shall try to get my hands on 'denial of death'/
> thanks,
> rony
> Rony Alfandary, Ph.D.
> Clinical Social Worker
> Postgraduate Program of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy,  Bar-Ilan University 
> Head of the Center for Therapeutic Professions, Seminar Hakibbutzim, Tel Aviv 
> On 3 January 2016 at 08:04, James Gifford <james.d.gifford at gmail.com <mailto:james.d.gifford at gmail.com>> wrote:
> Hi Rony,
> On 2016-01-02 9:28 PM, Rony Alfandary wrote:
> there are some reality events, though, that can not be
> regarded as fiction - death for instance.
> Death is a persistent anxiety in Durrell's works from the get go.  The ankle bone sticking out of the funeral pyre in /Pied Piper of Lovers/ never, never goes away...  The fear of a knock to a wrist or ankle even comes back late in the Quintet, still marking the anxiety around mortality.  I've tried to deal with this a bit in my last book, /Personal Modernisms/, but I do think it's worth noting the meeting point between psychoanalytic thought (via Otto Rank) and modern cultural psychology (via the Terror Management Theory paradigm) -- I've seen this as a useful way of approaching Durrell for, well, quite a while now.
> For what it's worth, one of the professors under whom I read Freud was a colleague of Ernest Becker, and that's influenced me a good deal.  When I first read Durrell reading Rank, that was already on my mind.
> Whether we experience it ourselves or not, we all know we die, and that shapes the process of living.
> All best,
> James

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