At my parents house the poster for this record is on my bedroom wall image error The poster the added text that Some ideas are poisonous, they can fuck up your life, change you and scar you This poster came to mind pretty often while reading The Denial of Death.I hope this isn t going to come as a shock to anyone, but you are going to die But you aren t just going to die, in the big picture there is nothing you will ever do, nothing you will ever be or effect matters one bit In the long vi At my parents house the poster for this record is on my bedroom wall image error The poster the added text that Some ideas are poisonous, they can fuck up your life, change you and scar you This poster came to mind pretty often while reading The Denial of Death.I hope this isn t going to come as a shock to anyone, but you are going to die But you aren t just going to die, in the big picture there is nothing you will ever do, nothing you will ever be or effect matters one bit In the long view we die, in the even longer view we don t matter at all We will not be remembered, our entire stay on this planet will over time be totally forgotten Poof, just like any of my ancestors prior to my great grand parents are nothing but abstractions of people who had to have existed to give birth to people who gave birth to people who I knew in my life Or as Morrissey sings So we go inside and we gravely read the stonesAll those people, all those livesWhere are they now With loves, and hatesAnd passions just like mineThey were bornAnd then they livedAnd then they diedIt seems so unfairI want to cryIn a psychoanalytical view of development which I don t think I fully agree with, but which I think is muchaccurate that some other cognitive theories of childhood development that would say that a child can t really comprehend death till they are closer to adolescence maybe I m an anomaly but I can remember brooding over my eventual death at five or six and realizing that it meant that I would no longer be here, but everything else still would be that Becker presents the child goes from a God like state where every need is met just by willing crying it into existence, to the realization that it s body shits, that expels waste and that it is just a mere creature and not god like this is kind of heady stuff for whatever age your supposed to go through the anal stage of development According to Becker no one navigates this primal dilemma successfully Once the awareness comes that a one is not immortal and b that one is just a disgusting creature that has to eat and shit and eventually die then one just builds in repressions and neuroses to cope with that knowledge Besides the fact that we all die, we all can t really deal with that fact The dualism of having a mind that can think beyond the mere instinctual and transcend the body along with at the physical level being merely just another collection of substances heading towards decay is a conflict that will drive us through out our lives Well according to Becker The problem is that we all want to be somethingthan a shitting and fucking creature that dies We want to bethan a vessel for our DNA Our minds work in such a way that we believe there has to be some purpose to our existence, there has to bethan just staying alive It s this part of our cognitive make up that at a symbolic, or meaning driven level, that governs the way that we deal with the world Even if one doesn t subscribe to the psychoanalytical premises of his argument I have a bit of a problem with the high level of symbolic abstraction going on in an infants mind that can draw these complex almost Derrida like deconstructions of shit and sex organs and lead it to ones own mortality, but whatever I think one would find it really difficult to argue against the idea that we are all driven to be something thanthan just a mere creature Or to put it as Becker does, to be driven by the heroic or that which is greater than ourselves our physical selves that would be The details of all the different ways that people can attempt to strive for the personal heroism in the modern age I m not going to go into, but basically there are two types the unreflective type that takes society s norms as it s own and covers up the fear of death and the need to give meaning to ones life through a career, a family, materialism, being a good provider, a pillar of the community, a sports fan, etc and someone who at some point has thrown off some of these cultural repressions and realized that there has to beto life than just doing these things and just surviving One of the interesting things about this book is that it doesn t romanticize the latter Becker doesn t seem to want to go out in the streets and tell everyone what an inauthentic life they are leading, how repressed they are because there is no unrepressed answer It s kind of like you can take one of the predefined answers to life and that is one thing, but if you reject those you either have to a go find your own answer and can support your own personal repressions and feelings of transference which is why in his view Kierkegaard with his leap of faith and Freud with his agnosticism can each be their own successful attempts at personally dealing with finding meaning in the world, but which from an outsider point of view both can be seen as still living in the prison of their own neuroses and prejudices I m realizing now that I have no real way of dealing with this topic in a review I can already see comments coming from MFSO that will be poking holes in some of the things I m saying and I m doing a piss poor job at giving the main ideas of this work a main idea that can possibly be stated as we are all sick inside, and once you come to this realization you can either stop fighting the sickness and try to create something that will give you the feelings of worth that you need not to put a gun in your mouth and pull the trigger, or you can let yourself be destroyed by your own fears and mind This is a simplistic way of summing up the book and misses a lot Sorry, I m terrible at describing why books are really awesome I d recommend reading this book, it s really eye mind opening in the ways we are trapped in our existence If your happy with your life then this might be a mere curiosity of an interesting scholarly study, but it can also be a really great anti self help book for people who can t buy into any of the answers out there because the answers are all lies I really only want to read this if it s going to give me concrete, practical, how to tips on denying death. This book is extremely important I can t emphasize this enough. If Ernest Becker can show that psychoanalysis is both a science and a mythic belief system, he will have found a way around man s anxiety over death Or maybe not This book is a card trick that conjures sham religion out of sham science, with death playing a supporting role Becker tells us that the idea that man can give his life meaning through self creation is wrong Only a mythico religious perspective will provide what s needed to face the terror of death That s an interesting idea, b If Ernest Becker can show that psychoanalysis is both a science and a mythic belief system, he will have found a way around man s anxiety over death Or maybe not This book is a card trick that conjures sham religion out of sham science, with death playing a supporting role Becker tells us that the idea that man can give his life meaning through self creation is wrong Only a mythico religious perspective will provide what s needed to face the terror of death That s an interesting idea, but Becker makes a steaming mess of it He uses pragmatic theory to show that science and religion make equivalent claims It also implies the mythico religious outlook is true if it works He runs a teeny tiny risk of nihilism here, but hey, when was the last time that ever got anyone into trouble So off he goes.First comes a hunt for human nature, an elusive quarry Anything man does is part of his nature, so from the concept we can deduce only trivialities But that doesn t stop Becker, who at every turn represents his own alchemy as scientifically proven From the empirical science of psychology, he proclaims, we know everything important about human nature that there is to know Oh, gosh Already I m getting nervous What he knows is that meaning cannot be self created because it amounts to a transparent act of transference Man cannot mask mortality with some vital lie Stronger medicine is needed, a belief system For if a man fails to repose his psyche within such a system, the result will be the annihilation of the ego, whatever that means Anyhow, it s a proven fact.This stronger medicine needs the survival instinct, Becker s terror of death To establish it he mortifies the sex instinct Several chapters document the dismal findings of psychoanalytic research Personality is ultimately destroyed by and through sex, he reports The sex act, or fornication as he calls it, is modern man s failed effort to replace the god ideal Males with sex drives are guilty of phallic narcissism Anything beyond missionary sex with the lights out is perversion Not even love and marriage help We might say theguilt free sex the better, he explains, but only up to a certain point In Hitlerism, we saw the misery that resulted when man confused two worlds Personal relationships carry the same danger Becker smears the lens through which we view sex with a thin ordure, counseling us, in effect, just to close our eyes and think of the British Empire This reductio of the sex drive thus exalts the survival instinct, and the author installs his psycho mythic add on to assuage the terror of death Yet he concedes at the end that there is really no way to overcome the real dilemma of existence , and baffled readers are left to wonder what the point of the book was That s the big picture The details are quite odd No biological basis is allowed for mental disorders all are amenable to psychotherapy, even schizophrenia, whose sufferers need only organize their jumbled symbolism into a mythic structure That no schizophrenic patient has ever been cured by psychoanalysis is beside the point So much for if it works, it s true Nowhere does Becker mention women, either, except to leer four or five times over the fright of children upon seeing mommy s nudity the boys don t want to be castrated and not even little girls want to be the sex of their mothers An Original Guilt replaces Original Sin, and women are still on the hook for it.Then there s Freud, a man who is always unhappy, helpless, anxious, bitter, looking into nothingness with frightBecker dwells for pages on the fact that Freud fainted, proving it was caused by his inability to accept religion and even linking Freud s cancer to this I myself have problems with Freud so do many But by the time this writer gets through there s nothing left of Freud but litter Then still, explaining the minds of primitives, Becker notesMany of the older American Indians were relieved when the Big Chiefs in Ottawa and Washington took control and prevented them from warring and feuding It was a relief from the constant anxiety of death for their loved ones, if not for themselves In light of what actually happened to the Indians this comes as a cruelty that runs for cover under its analytic context The author s style, indeed, uses analysis as a shield for many of his little jabs The largely general nature of his claims would have worked better in a long essay format, but the psychoanalysis does appear to buttress thecaustic remarks Only psychiatry and religion can deal with the meaning of life, says Becker, who avoids philosophy But this is one book where even a whiff of critical thinking helps, and not just with the reductio Even assuming his premises, if truth really amounts to faith, then self created meanings cannot be mistaken so long as man has faith in them Most important, though, is a glaring lack of conceptual clarity What exactly does he mean by religion and myth There s a world s difference between a theological and an idealistic basis for belief The author never explains why he conflates those terms As a result he cannot meaningfully elucidate a subjective experience halfway between the temporal and the spiritual.This vagueness hurts because the endeavor to state facts about another person s mind isn t as farfetched as it seems Becker s pragmatic brew, on the other hand, fizzes into nihilism His claim to scientific proof of the psyche s functions is pseudoscience, and the pretense to authority has borne sour fruit The false memory hysteria fanned by psychoanalysts 20 years ago derailed lives and careers, and sent innocent people to prison And the author adds not one new insight on the subject of death, although I can t deny the entertainment value of Victorian clich s dressed in psychedelic drag.Unwilling to acknowledge either science or religion, The Denial of Death is neither fish nor fowl, but rather a foul and fishy fraud seasoned with petty barbs Cautious readers will want to step back and let the white suits decontaminate this metaphysical meth lab and its doubtful dregs The irony of man s condition is that the deepest need is to be free of the anxiety of death and annihilation but it is life itself which awakens it, and so we must shrink from being fully alive Ernest BeckerThe sloppy latticework of gnarled tree branches anchors the foreground while Devlin and Geoffrey puff upon thick, stolen cigars, steathily removed from a father s humidor, stashed in the closet of a house that was summarily purchased with blood, sweat and finely tuned n directed tears The irony of man s condition is that the deepest need is to be free of the anxiety of death and annihilation but it is life itself which awakens it, and so we must shrink from being fully alive Ernest BeckerThe sloppy latticework of gnarled tree branches anchors the foreground while Devlin and Geoffrey puff upon thick, stolen cigars, steathily removed from a father s humidor, stashed in the closet of a house that was summarily purchased with blood, sweat and finely tuned n directed tears Their lanky fuzz lined sillouettes bend and puff and laugh together within the sea of sundown hues that grant them visualization Geoffrey digs deep into his tanned corduroy pockets and his left hand removes the distant, quiet clink of coins upon coins A square jawed, stiff limbed snake of iron and steel flows by the two teenagers The word train materializes within the skulls of both boys as their sleeves and trousers are shaken to a fluttering life by its newfound wind The pair reacts to the new calm by a continued puffing and swaggering, smirks etched step by step upon their faces Let s do some penny dreadfuls, Devlin exhales along with a stacco waft of floating burnt tobacco.Geoffrey nods affirmatively and re digs into his corduroy for the fullest answer He hands Devlin a metallic rustle of currency and steps over the first track in order to hover over the second Geoffrey clinks his purchase down upon the iron and walks back towards Devlin doing the mirror same.They lie in wait for the next bulldozing carrier A great silence envelopes them as they inhale and exhale, stare and unstare at nothing, anything and everything Don t you ever worry about dying Devlin mews with unnerving sincerity Of course But at this millisecond I m pretty much ready to go Really Really I keep thinking about an old friend who even when he was merely eight years old once told me and told me with great certitude and sincerity that he wouldn t care at all if his father hurled him off a cliff This was a week before he was going to visit the Grand Canyon on a family vacation Death only really frightens me if I have the time to really, really think about it When it s just an immediate thought, well, I usually just think about it as an either an inevitably or a blessing which is sad, I know, but that s just how I feel most of the time I mean, I don t want to die I really, really don t butoften than not, I just don t care enough either way Darkness forever doesn t always seem like Darkness Forever Sometimes I stupidly think of it as a vacation a vacation of blank peace rather than the traditionally, plausibly understood, deep dark destination the Big Sleep, the eternal dirt nap, etc you know Wow Yeah, I know what you mean But most the time it mostly scares the living shit out of me and seems like the worst thing in the whole wide world Well, it is Of course It s the worst The worst reality there can every possibly be, I guess But it s so inescapable that eventually I feel beaten into submission by the fact that it s so goddamn certain and ever present Devlin passes a pint of bourbon towards his closest friend who accepts it with a smile, a limp grip and then a simultaneously pleased and pained grimace There s no real comfort to be found here, my friend I m sorry to say I wish it was otherwise, but it just isn t Sure, there s some distant hope to be found within the deep, deep, unanswerable mystery of it all, but all that s really real is this This Here Right now Us standing together, having a deep thought or two, sharing our thoughts whatever those are, really ya know Yeah, I think so, too It s just so damn depressing no matter what, ya know It s so fucking hard for me to think about it all with any real seriousness Just imagining the death of my mother makes me feel like, like, likelike, I dunno, the whole world is coming to an end It s just the most awful feeling ever Believe me, I know exactly what you mean It s really the worst If there s supposed to be a silver lining that s better than all the ol clich silver linings which fail us left and right well, I don t know what that is We we human beings stuck in this predicament we re simply forced to deal with it It s horrific and unfair Period So let s just finish that bottle, smoke these cigars, and keep moving and talking and thinking until we can t The train announces its arrival in the distance Devlin s head hangs low Geoffrey s eyes well with fluid and his gaze cranes upward to the murky, bloody cloudiness of the slit vein of the sky, booming its melancholy echo around the world exclusively to those who can perceive it The distance collapses at a brisk pace The distance disappears and a single penny is ground down into a new shape for an audience of two Do you feel like your days fly by Or, that a month disappears into another month How does a lifetime get swallowed up Why do we live with regret Aren t we just living like all the other people Why do we take risks with our health and with our financial resources What is it all about After reading this book, the sheer madness of the 20th and 21st century seems apparent no longer mysterious If you think you are living on a rollercoaster hate how you ve been strapped onto the monster s b Do you feel like your days fly by Or, that a month disappears into another month How does a lifetime get swallowed up Why do we live with regret Aren t we just living like all the other people Why do we take risks with our health and with our financial resources What is it all about After reading this book, the sheer madness of the 20th and 21st century seems apparent no longer mysterious If you think you are living on a rollercoaster hate how you ve been strapped onto the monster s back this book will make sense of your secret fears We live in a world designed for speed, afraid of our own mortality, in a world where the dying get tucked away from our eyes If we understood that there is only one life to live that there are no promises as to the length of our lives would we squander time Would we make ourselves ill with petty jealousy Would we spend a lifetime trying to scramble to the top of the economic food chain Would we allow our real selves to be designated to weekends, or that one day a month vacation from the overwhelming pressures that demand a certain ideal for success Or would we cut the straps that tie us to the monster s back Would we learn to live in the moment, aware of our every exhalation, and begin to live for ourselves and for the ones we love Winner of the Pulitzer prize inand the culmination of a life s work, The Denial of Death is Ernest Becker s brilliant and impassioned answer to the why of human existence In bold contrast to the predominant Freudian school of thought, Becker tackles the problem of the vital lie man s refusal to acknowledge his own mortality In doing so, he sheds new light on the nature of humanity and issues a call to life and its living that still resonates than twenty years after its writing This was transforming If I manage to live long enough to grow old despite my overwhelming urge to suicide now and then , I would look back on this book as my first lesson on human condition This book won Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction 1973 New York Times described it as One of the most challenging book of the decade And upon googling I came to know that this book is a seminal book iin psychology and one of the most influential books written on psychology in 20th century It can This was transforming If I manage to live long enough to grow old despite my overwhelming urge to suicide now and then , I would look back on this book as my first lesson on human condition This book won Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction 1973 New York Times described it as One of the most challenging book of the decade And upon googling I came to know that this book is a seminal book iin psychology and one of the most influential books written on psychology in 20th century It can be difficult to review of a book of such stature So I m going to review just a part of it The basic theme this book explores is this Man is an incongruous jumble of two identities One is his material body and the other is his symbolic inner self You can call this mind if you want to This makes man at the same time the most powerful and unfortunate member of the animal kingdom Why unfortunate , you ask Because only man has been made aware that his body is going to decay soon, he has come to know death and the absurdity that comes with it Man has eaten fruit from the Tree of Knowledge , so he been banished from the haven of nature, has to pay for his knowledge by his existential hangover This symbolic self of man leads todilemmas Man wants to stand out from the rest of nature, to curve out an unique self, to assert his individuality But at the same time, he wants to merge with the rest of the creation, to have a holistic unification with nature These two contradictory urges go in the face of each other If you want to be unique, you can t be one with the rest of the nature, and vice versa That s the price you pay for your dualistic nature The symbolic self has made you a virtual God, but it also made you aware of your creatureliness However much you love your beloved and bask in the ecstasy of her love, you also have to be aware that your beloved has to defecate now and then So man has to somehow distract himself from his realization of the horrific nature of the reality For this, he invented projects for heroism in manifold forms, to transcend his animal identity beyond death, to deny his death Even if your animal body dies, your symbolic self may live on forever through your immortality project All religions, cultures, societies lays out the framework for our collective heroism projects Here things are beginning to get a little shaky Religions aren t that sustainable heroism project now as they were in the middle ages And cultures and societies are beginning to loose their structure and don t function to secure the identity of man as they once used to do So the modern suffers from a lack of ideal illusion , which is vital to hide the terrors of his existence He knows , knows too well, and therefore cannot be deceived, which is not good for him Now, how do we deal with this extremely vulnerable, anxiety prone, suffering from meaninglessness, and as Becker puts it, the neurotic model of the modern man This question goes into the heart of psychotherapy Becker explored statures like Freud,Kierkegaard, Otto Rank, Carl Jung in search for an answer, and tries to extract a synthesis out of it Now, I do not agree with the conclusion he draws here at the end of the book Becker concludes by saying that there is really no way out of this dualistic conundrum in which man has found himself, and all we can aim at is some sort of mitigation of the absolute misery We need to set a personal heroism project for ourselves , settle somewhat wisely within the walls, though we would never be quite at home All aim for higher transcendence is delusional He scolds Jung and Fromm for entertaining the possibility of a free man , while praising Freud for hisrealistic somber pessimism And he also dismissed eastern mysticism , saying it s sort of an cowardly evasion of the reality and thereby doesn t fit brave western man I do not blame him though, as he had written those words nearly half a century ago And I understand that eastern schools like Zen or Taoism might be too much for a western mind to have a firm purchase on, as eastern schools have a fundamentally different understanding of the nature reality Nowhere this east west dichotomy is explainedlucidly than by Fritjof Capra in his book The Tao of Physics More recently, Sam Harri s book Waking up A guide to spiritually without religion also does a quite fair job With the advent of modern noninvasive neuroimaging techniques, the scientific community has only recently been gaining an understanding of the potential for the radical transformation of human psyche that lies at the heart of the eastern mysticism There is empirical evidence that mindfulness meditation can literally change your neurochemistry and change the way how you perceive the world, and make your existenceat home Watch the TED YouTube video How meditation can reshape your brain And every year many scientific papers are being published on the effect of mindfulness meditation on human psyche To be frank, todaywesterns practice yoga and meditation than easterners do, they are slowly absorbing the essence But it seems to me as far as psychology of well being goes, east will always have the upper hand But we also need theanalytical western science to look at what is really going on here It s nice that we live in an era where we are seeing the merger of east and west I have mixed thoughts and feelings while reading this book, because I intend to immerse myself through it, and there were instances that some parts of it really bored me, for example, the constant references to Nietzsche Ernest Becker brilliantly synthesized Freud s psychoanalysis with the ideas of writers most notably, Otto Rank, Soren Kierkegaard, Carl Jung, Medard Boss, among others and poignantly illustrated their insights on the individual s attempts and striving against death, which entai I have mixed thoughts and feelings while reading this book, because I intend to immerse myself through it, and there were instances that some parts of it really bored me, for example, the constant references to Nietzsche Ernest Becker brilliantly synthesized Freud s psychoanalysis with the ideas of writers most notably, Otto Rank, Soren Kierkegaard, Carl Jung, Medard Boss, among others and poignantly illustrated their insights on the individual s attempts and striving against death, which entails projecting the self through expansion, cultural identification, or transcendence towards something greater.I especially liked how he was able to point out this certain Causa Sui Project, which is what most individuals are striving for the need for self reliance and self determination to establish something beyond the self, i.e., he cites the example of Freud s erecting of psychoanalysis which was his life long dream of responding to established religion or cultural traditions It might be, according to Ernest Becker, that this Causa Sui Project, though he writes of his analysis as mostly assumptions based on Ernest Jones biography of Freud, was a lie that this project is the individual s attempt to overcome his smallness and limitations because he is still in many ways bound to the laws of something that transcends him, and denying it would be tantamount to neurosis Perhaps that portion of the book was the most poignant of all, because it was self evident that to renounce the causa sui project would be to admit that any person s attempt for self determination is bound to fail if it does not recognize that there is something that istranscendent compared to the individual s will.Ernest Becker also wrote on this book, the attempts and psychology of creativity, of creating personal fictions, of the ideal of mental health and illness all of which are the person s attempts of making meaning, finding a center, remaining sane in an otherwise chaotic world I highly recommend this book, it is enlightening and through it, and it is a reflection and a deep analysis on man s condition who is constantly asking questions and grapples on the inevitability of finitude and faith Literally, this is one book that brought me back to my senses The Denial of Death straddles the line between astounding intellectual ambition and crackpot theorizing it is a compendium of brilliant intellectual exercises that aresatisfying poetically than scientifically it is a desperately self oblivious and quasi futile attempt to resurrect the ruins of Freudian psychoanalysis by re defining certain parameters and ostensibly de Freudianizing them there is an unhealthy mixture of jaw dropping recognition and eye rolling recognition.It is important The Denial of Death straddles the line between astounding intellectual ambition and crackpot theorizing it is a compendium of brilliant intellectual exercises that aresatisfying poetically than scientifically it is a desperately self oblivious and quasi futile attempt to resurrect the ruins of Freudian psychoanalysis by re defining certain parameters and ostensibly de Freudianizing them there is an unhealthy mixture of jaw dropping recognition and eye rolling recognition.It is important to note, however, that it is grossly unfair to discredit the ingenuity of a vintage intellectual by holding discoveries and findings found post mortem against him or her A psychology professor who claims Freud is an idiot is, at best, simply being arrogant on a chronological technicality Freud did not take into account all of that which had debunked, and his findings are so flagrantly untrue of course, those debunkings occurred after Freud s death Something about the fact that geniuses have to be omnipotent and stand outside a life narrative is ridiculous, and at best arrogant At the end of the day Freud revolutionized thought and his myths has carried a heavy cultural resonance, and we can apologize for his after the fact falseness But it is completely unfair to say he had not taken into account all the factors that could have by no means been available to him contemporarily, and so it goes for every genius No one is a genius when taken out of context, and that s precisely the point of such masturbatory put downs Some assert superiority by tearing others down on balderdash presumptions others gain it through luck and the rare few gain it on demonstrable merit.Becker takes great pains to resurrect Freudian thought by moving the focus of sexual instinct and placing it under the broader terror of death It s mostly an attempt to keep the structural integrity of psychoanalysis intact by retrofitting a new cornerstone Becker and Freud are both susceptible to the same poetic fervor, bias, and penchant toward romanticizing certain ideas Whereas Freud took his transcendental principle and squeezed every thought through a prism of sexual instinct, Becker wants to do likewise with fear of mortality Everything down to sexual perversions like fetishism, sadomasochism, and this is where the book feels dated even for 1973 homosexuality are all put through the here s why these exist due to the innate terror of death schema It s an intellectual reduction we ve seen time and time again, where a certain mythos or belief system can be twisted and turned to accommodate just about everything because it s so rhetorically versatile While it looks pretty good and is amusing on paper, it should rouse suspicion The absence of scientific findings hear does likewise even if this is meant to be a reader friendly book, the lack of viable citations beyond summations of psychoanalytic theory seems methodically irresponsible.My other hesitation is in the relentless way by which Becker employs metaphor as transcendent, a priori interpretation He clearly believes that people think, in short hand, via grand, sweeping metaphors In other words, projecting his grandiose symbolism onto the thoughts of others Sometimes his dalliances with figuring out child psychology the terror of the penis less mother, or the first experience of total dependence being somewhat violated are expressed in a metaphorical language, where this gesture represents this or seems to instill a fear of castration, or that viewing one s parents engaging in a primal act strips them of their symbolic, enduring representations and places them in a lowly, carnal context The act subtly de idolizes them and traumatizes the child, if one allows for the fact that people sub consciously think in grandiose metaphors Breasts represent this, the body symbolizes decay, the mind symbolizes bodily transcendence, etc., etc But shouldn t these representations beintuitive and well ingrained if they just so happen to govern how childhood experience shapes us The other problem is Becker s penchant for dualisms the life is a war between the body and the mind, the failure of reconciliation between the body and the self, that sex is the war between the acceptance and subversion of the body, that love is an internalized and externalized transcendence, etc., etc Everything is balanced on linearly as a conflict between two disparate entities, or a war between dual things This form of thinking I don t find particularly viable because it just reeks of the constraints human reason has to place on itself to find a semblance of truth, not the truth itself The human mind even according to Becker has to reduce segments of the vastness of life into smaller, comprehensible fragments Some behavioral scientists have posited that beyond the number three, humans process numbers relatively We cannot process 1 million as a concrete number, but only as a contextual anchor against numbers greater or smaller It is hazily and less concretely defined beyond three, our brains become exhausted It is why jokes stop after a priest, a minister, and a rabbi I m surprised Becker didn t catch himself falling into this own tendency in his own work The human mind analyzing itself is a troublesome thing it just seems that his propensity toward surrogates and representation, in addition to his tendency to parse things down to two dependent variables, are less indicative of psychological truth in principle, andindicative of a psychological aphorism that can only be teased out once the brain takes its usual short cuts and acts of its own nature He didn t turn his evaluation on ideological reductiveness inward, and his argument stems from the same heuristics that he critiques in similarly broad terms.The bits on character traits as psychoses is just a marvelous section of the book, also, and even the over the top, rabid attempts to resuscicate Freudian thinking e.g anality as a desperate fear of the acknowledgment of the creatureliness of man and the awful horror that we turn life into excrement are amusing even if they seem rabidly desperate or intellectually impoverished The book ought to balled The Denial of Freud s Death It so desperately tries to keep the spirit of him alive, with varying degrees of success.Even in its datedness, its contradictions, and its often unsatisfying or sensational resolutions, The Denial of Death is an excellent demonstration of intellectual heroics of a man trying, as best he can, to grasp beyond the very limits of the human mind to get to a greater place The tragedy is that he never quite transcends the unduly habits of an analytical mind, which is hardly to be expected But it s always marvelous to read something that gives such an impression.The book is amazing rhetoric, but when it says something like man needs to disown the fortress of the body, throw off the cultural constraints, assassinate his character psychoses, and come face to face with the full on majesty and chaos of nature in order to transcend, what says this is rhetorically eloquent, but what does it mean to fully take on the majesty of nature Are we supposed to move back into the trees Are we to run around naked in the woods and constantly think about our own passing He never quite plans out an agenda for what the eschewing of cultural trappings for full immersion in cosmic oneness would look like The book has its internal logic and it is good enough to have the opportunity to bear witness to it, but I am doubtful of much of its credibility A lot of The Denial of Death is saturated in the abstracts of problem solving none of its resolutions, conclusions, or even symptoms seem actionable.Sometimes I don t think it s the denial of death so much as the incomprehensibility of it Our brains can t even process two people talking simultaneously because it is an over ride of information intake Is it really tenable to say that death has taken in and repressed all the majesty and terror of a despairing and lonely, temporary existence This probably gives the mind too much credit Or is itrealistic to say that such a wide, cosmic void is perhaps greater than Freudian schematics Maybe since we can t really look beyond three, stop mistaking metaphor for fundamental truth, or can t stop thinking in dualisms or can t hearthan two people once, we can t find the transcendence because of our own machine based limitations Much of what we are meant to be able to take on fully to confront death and thrive in life is beyond our cognitive capacities I believe there is repression, but psychology also tells us that the brain must and does filter its input We can t pay attention to a whole scene, or focus onthan one thing, or hearthan such and such thing I don t believe this is a sub conscious device meant to save us from the throes of death I just believe that evolution is stingy enough to grant humans the necessities to function and at the very least genetically propagate It hardly seems necessary to give humans the omniscience to take on the full reality of its predicament Instead it s given enough to simply go on, erm, living So, at the end of the day, I m not sure The Denial of Death is muchthan a grandiose attempt at fitting the grand scheme of things into adigestible scheme of, yes, it all comes from a fear of dying But for anyone who can acknowledge the distortions in one s own thinking and the limits of input processing with a brain, such a statement seems reductive, and well, too convenient and un complicated This is why it is often backed up with inconvenient and complicated scraps While I do believe The Denial of Death is valuable because some people may be living under this schematic, it s best to read this as a possibility for some thinking, not as a blanket humanity statement It s a good guidepost to do some back of the envelope psycho calculation, but it s just not committed enough to its own purported vastness to be worth much beyond that.Anxiety, it says, is the dissonance some people feel because their confidence in their invincibility the delusion given to some with self esteem is shaky It s a natural response to the predicament of self aware mortality This is too metaphorical Anxiety stems from imagined fantasies that have not coalesced into existence does the brain s penchant for supposition and that subsequent worry really come from that Given how much self spun fiction creates worry and sadnessI m not sure It s not that I can wholly discredit Becker I just feel that any categorical imperative is probably not able to grasp the full spectrum of complicating factors The spidey sense is triggered at any point objectivity declares carte blanche privileges over subjectivity The Denial of Death is a fantastic, provocative, and possibly life changing read, but just so as an ambitious attempt a pleasurable intellectual food for thought exercise A valiant attempt, but again, some people kill themselves, and some people fetishize excrement What of them, Becker What of them