Fear of Mortality

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Useful quote from review of Joan Didion's Year of Magical Thinking

From the guardian: "You may say the story of The Year of Magical Thinking is of a woman who has to do what is, for her, the hardest thing in life: to admit her own helplessness. The distinctive power of the play comes from the fact that it is written by a non-believer. Unlike previous popular works on the subject, it offers no comfort. In facing death, Joan tells us we are facing meaninglessness. And yet, in spite of the classical seriousness of the theme and the disturbing closeness of the events - Quintana had died at New York Cornell only six months before we began working - I made a conscious decision to behave as if this were a play like any other. Nothing, I thought, could be worse than to go into this project aiming to wrap the author in cotton wool. If she could face down the horror, then so could we. Indeed, I suspected the very reason Joan was doing the play was to return herself to a version of normality. The most unhelpful thing I could do would be to go round with a long face."


“Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick,” Susan Sontag famously wrote in “Illness as Metaphor.” But she doesn’t talk about this no man’s land that exists between the two kingdoms, inhabited by people like me who are neither sick nor well. It is a different kind of deportation than the one the surgeon was referring to: It’s a journey into the wilderness of survivorship. This time I’m finding that there are no protocols or discharge instructions, no roadmaps or 12-step plans to guide me back to the kingdom of the well. The road back is going to be my own.


her expression as it cracks



I was utterly exhausted, my energy drained from me. Then it hit me - this is what people experience when they are very old. When I go I will feel like this. And do you know what? I didn't give a damn - I would have been content to slip away gently.