The Denial of Death

In a piece entitled “Why I Had to Lie to My Dying Mother,” Susan Sontag’s son David Rieff relates the painful process and effect of abetting his mother’s delusion that she was not actually dying of Leukemia. What is alarming to me about his tragic and articulate account is the depth with which his mother yearned for immortality, even when she had rejected all claims to it.

Rieff writes, “I suppose, as was once said of Samuel Beckett, that her quarrel too was with the Book of Genesis.” As Ernst Becker carefully documents in his book The Denial of Death, such quarreling with Genesis is a natural human endeavor.

Read it all here.

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