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The End of the World and Other Teachable MomentsJacques Derrida's Final Seminar$
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Michael Naas

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780823263288

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823263288.001.0001

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To Die a Living Death

To Die a Living Death

Phantasms of Burial and Cremation

(p.62) 3 To Die a Living Death
The End of the World and Other Teachable Moments

Michael Naas

Fordham University Press

This chapter discusses how Derrida personally deals with the ideas found in Robinson Crusoe. It reflects on the tradition that humans can choose the manner of burial, intertwining with the Heideggerian claim to the relationship of human to death, while the animal simply wastes away. Derrida reflects on Robinson Crusoe's obsession that the might be buried alive, or eaten by wild beasts. He asks: what is the meaning for a large segment of the population to be given a choice on the matter of burial or cremation? Derrida goes on to surmise about death: imagining one's own death, of imagining oneself as dead-alive, imagining what happens to one after death, the phantasm of surviving one's own death, therefore, of living one's death or dying a living death. Thinking about his own death is like a phantasm. His analysis of burial and cremation becomes the theme of his last seminars. By reading “The Beast and The Sovereign” in relation to his health conditions, one begins to understand his words on being buried alive, a living death, where the condition itself becomes containing.

Keywords:   Heidegger, Robinson Crusoe, cremation, dead-alive, living death

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