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Death's FollowingMediocrity, Dirtiness, Adulthood, Literature$
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John Limon

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780823242795

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823242795.001.0001

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Alas a Dirty Third: The Logic of Death

Alas a Dirty Third: The Logic of Death

Chapter:
(p.32) Chapter Two Alas a Dirty Third: The Logic of Death
Source:
Death's Following
Author(s):

John Limon

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823242795.003.0004

This chapter takes up a Jewish joke about dirt on the forehead of house-breakers, a logical exemplum about dirt on the foreheads of logic students, and T.S. Eliot's “Ash Wednesday.” In each case, the unseen mark of death must be inferred from the dirty foreheads of others. The structure of inference-one person must read death from the dirtiness of two others-is also manifest in Kafka's The Trial, which makes adult commonness the essence of death, and Pinter's The Birthday Party, which make dirtiness visible as the inferred sign of adulthood.

Keywords:   Dirtiness, Jewish jokes, Ash Wednesday, Logic, T.S. Eliot, Kafka, Harold Pinter

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