LIVING YOUR DYING by Stanley Keleman


Email this review


In spite of some puerile reductions, this is a surprisingly provocative view of the possibilities that the new death consciousness offer us. Keleman writes that one's manner of dying -- as ""hero"" (violently or flamboyantly), ""wise man"" (submissively), ""fool"" (death as a ""cosmic joke""), ""martyr"" (crucified for a noble cause), or ""morbid victim"" (death as a bizarre, painful, fearful experience) -- reflects one's manner of living. We all wish to die at one psychic level or another (it is ""a healthy passion, a natural passion""), and our lives are permeated by ""little dyings"" before the ""big one:"" social disruption, loss, change, grief, surrender, orgasm, falling asleep, facing the unknown, submissions to body processes. Our style of dying, like our style of living, is a matter of choice: death can be approached as an enemy or evil, or it can be ""exciting if you value moving toward the unknown,"" if you value solitude (death as ultimate unattachment), if you require a final ""expansion"" (death as self-completion). Our culture esteems the hero's death (for women, the martyr's), but Keleman argues that we need not adopt such a prescribed pattern -- we can find a deeper, personal way, a continuation, an extension of ourselves, not a disruption. Those who cannot face death (or their ""little deaths"") may find ways to die passively, unknowingly, avoiding responsibility for their choice (for example, by creating dangerous situations); those who can, will choose to die when they feel they can no longer expand in life -- ""a perfectly valid response to a certain situation."" It is unfortunate that Keleman mars this fascinating thesis with a simplistic section on ""self-dialogue"" -- getting in touch with our wish to die and our lifestyles; personal growth is much more complex. But he wisely and pointedly opens doors, and his book may prove an impetus to more complete studies and therapies.

Pub Date: Jan. 6th, 1974
ISBN: 0934320098
Publisher: Random House/Bookworks