Chapter

Preliminary Expectoration

John Limon

in Death's Following

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780823242795
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780823242832 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5422/fordham/9780823242795.003.0003
Preliminary Expectoration

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Heidegger defines the “They” as humanity in its commonplace attitude towards death: death is always inferred (rather than directly faced), always deferred. But Limon's reading of Heller's Catch-22 demonstrates that conceiving of death immediately and immanently is actually the easier exercise: if it is always here, it can always be confronted and withstood; it is deferred, always awaiting, anti-heroic death that is terrifying. The central paradigm of anti-heroic death appears in Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling: death is imagined at the end of an inexplicable journey to Moriah. When (as Kierkegaard revises the story) God fails to save Isaac, he offers him eternal life but fails to offer him a return to childhood (since the one impossible reward for knowledge of death is innocence of it): thus adulthood becomes the key concept for conceiving the deferred death of the “They.”

Keywords: Adulthood; Being-towards-death; Heidegger; Joseph Heller; Fear and Trembling; Abraham and Isaac; Gift of death; Kierkegaard; Derrida

Chapter.  10468 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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