Denial of Death through the eye of the artist

Academic Ernest Becker won the Pulitzer Prize in 1974 for his landmark non-fiction book “The Denial of Death.” Ironically he could not deny death as he died at age 49, two months before he won the Pulitzer. Becker was an anthropologist whose work influenced social psychology among other things. “Denial of Death” was also the book that Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) insisted Annie Hall (Diane Keaton) should read in the Oscar winner “Annie Hall.” Being a Woody Allen fan I had to buy the book.

I was thumbing through the book the other day, something I do with long ago read books, when I came across a passage about artists, and since writers are artists, I found something of great insight.

I quote from the book: “There is something in his life experience that makes him take in the world as a problem; as a result he has to make personal sense out of it. . . Existence becomes a problem that needs an ideal answer, but when you no longer accept the collective solution to the problem of existence, then you must fashion your own.”

As a writer and a card carrying INFJ (author) according to the Keirsey-Bates temperament sorter, I understand exactly what Becker is saying.  I have always tried to make sense of the world and existence. As a seeker (again an INFJ trait) I have explored religion, atheism, creationism, and the big bang theory (including the TV show) and everywhere I turned, everything I studied, I invariably ended up amused.

I do not see a true answer, so like the second part of the quote I have tried to fashion my own answer. Since I have been amused and bemused with observations on society, people, culture, religion, politics (the biggest joke) and everything in between, my two e-novels tend to show the looniness of what is going on. I have not done so with contempt, nor sarcasm, nor smugness, but a lovingly bemused look at life and people. I think it says something about myself that my favorite painting is Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.” I do not know if the screamer in the painting is making an existential scream of horror and despair, but my scream would be an existential laughing scream of a bedlam loony.

My characters are not loony, however, except for one, but he was a true life loony of some kind. The actions of my characters don’t always make sense, though they don’t know it at the time. But they continue to work things out, often muddling through, sometimes getting answers, sometimes not. They, like myself, are working on fashioning answers.

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Filed under dalies, e-book publishing, fiction, fiction writing, humor, Uncategorized, writers, writing

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