©1973 Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.; (P)2005 Blackstone Audiobooks
"A brave work of electrifying intelligence and passion, optimistic and revolutionary, destined to endure." (New York Times Book Review)
"Ranks among the truly important books of the year. Professor Becker writes with power and brilliant insight." (Publishers Weekly)
The battle in my mind between my heritage of faith and my deep allegiance to the scientific method found some peace in the main hypothesis of The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker. He hypothesizes that man is driven by a deep fear of dying to build constructs of what happens after death. He suggests that the primal fear of death cause people to convert to religion, leave moments to their lives, and to spend their life in an Epicurean scramble to balance the nothingness of death.
The subject is the best, the performance by the reader is OK. Becker's book explains many of the symbols used in society and cultures to attach "meaning" to our lives. It's a fascinating study of human behavior and explains many of the polarizations in the world.
Becker was on his deathbed when his manuscript arrived at the publisher. The publisher rushed to his home to spend the last few hours with him. The poignancy of this moment is not lost on the publisher, nor the reader. As Becker faced his own death, his insights were enhanced and more clear.
Subtle. Slow. Unemotive.
That man is basically animal. And, as the knowledge of our differences to animal (thought, emotion, rationale thought, opposable thumbs, design and intention) we created symbols to attach meaning to our lives. As we denied our own mortality the creation of symbols, heros and God's became a necessary coping mechanism. However, those same symbols (religion, nationality, race, gender, sports teams, etc.) became our undoing as we reified them and gave them power. This power has been used and abused over the millennia to manipulate and control the masses.
Read this book. So many aspects of the human existence become more clear.
One of the deepest and yet very accessible books that I have ever heard. Since listening to it I have purchased the book and read it cover to cover. Superb.
Too many to mention. I believe each person who listens to this book will be moved and permanently changed.
He is very good. Reads quickly and clearly.
Loved the stories regarding Freud and Jung. Enlightening
A must read if you are interested in the core of our human being. This book absolutely deserved the Pulitzer Prize.
College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.
Based on the work of Freud's least credited successor, Otto Rank, The Denial Of Death weaves an irrefutable argument that human aggression stems from an overweening hubris based exactly in the daily repression of the inevitability of our own individual death. In this denial, we attack and metaphorically or actually kill others--this can range from talking about our neighbor behind his back to all-out assassination on the battlefield. There is no easy-breezy solution to this problem, as in many lesser popular works--Becker sees human nature remaining more or less the same--but he does urge the reader toward redirecting hateful energies away from human scapegoats and toward abstractions like human suffering itself. A penetrating and unflinching work completed just before Becker's own demise from cancer. A must read.
becker died about the time this book was published
that probably didn't bother him as much as you'd think
he saw himself as a prophet/high priest of modern culture
he was after life's deepest meanings and truth with a capital T
in a sense he saw himself as outside of time and fashion
almost in the role of a weary old testament truth teller
the jargon was dense and built to survive academic scrutiny
he busily refered to otto rank and quoted soren kierkegaard
footnotes were included in the text in excruciating detail
the 20th century was built on marx and darwin and freud
marx has been discredited by world events
darwin was right but not as dogmatic as people believe
freud alone was folded and molded to suit each passing fancy
becker sought to reinterpret freud at the deepest level
in a sense he wanted to set things right with the human mind
the book was not written with the intention of being read aloud
it was written to be studied and then withstand the attack of becker's rivals
in provides understanding and insight more than entertainment
I always felt when reading books trying to explain religion scientifically or functionally that they were missing something essential about religion. Then when I listened to Ernest Becker's The Denial of Death it all finally made sense. What is more, I also began to understand the source of my own constant drive to leave a mark on the world.
It was a relief to finally find a theory that explained the evolution of these two essential social phenomena, religion and immortality projects, in one book.
Although it is an all encompassing theory, and I am sure life is about more than just this; Becker's analysis of what is undeniably a shared human tendency -- to fear and deny death -- and its impact on our psychology as a species, is profound.
If you like listening to a text book (which I do), you are halfway there. The ideas are somewhat dated. Strong Freudian themes and explanations, but in audio format it is a long listen.
I don't know exactly what I was expecting, but this was not it, unfortunately. I was there with the author through his explanations of humanity's quest to live forever, but was less interested as he went on to delve into Freud's theories on love, sex, and fetishism. Finally, when the author gave credence to Freud's view that homosexuality is a character flaw and a disease, I lost all respect.
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