What am I trying to do with Being & Death?
The answer to this question came into focus while working on the outline, which I’ve been writing behind the scenes for the past two months. Thanks to you, there has been a wonderful and inspiring feedback-loop between my ideas on this website, your responses in the comments section, and our discussions during The Open live events.
Only through our collaboration has this outline come to fruition. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting the outline for each chapter, one at a time. In the spirit of Live The Questions, please review these outlines, digest them, and then comment with any thoughts or feelings you may have.
To help guide your comments, here is what I’m looking for:
- Overall: what is your gestalt reaction from your first read-through? Include anything you think and feel. I want to know your fresh perspective!
- Storytelling: I don’t want this book to be a dry philosophical argument, but a narrative that mixes philosophy with emotional storytelling. Does this book feel like a story? Does it have a dramatic arc? Does the book have enough spaces for you to fill in with your own life experience?
- Logic / structure: can you think of any structural ways to better present this material? Do I make any logical errors? Are there gaping holes in the argument? Mind you, I’m trying to strike a balance between progressing a thesis, and creating a field of stories and analogies.
- Omissions: let me know of any ideas, authors, theories, or stories that you think would be an essential addition to this book.
- Goals: do I accomplish my stated goals? To aid you in knowing how to answer this question, I’ve provided you with “purpose statements” for the book as a whole, for each chapter, and for each section.
- Excess: given these purpose statements, are there any topics or entire sections you feel we could lose? My goal is for this book to be ~400 pages, so I’m hoping to cut out excess without killing the spirit of the book.
The Purpose of Being & Death
So, what am I trying to do with Being & Death?
Since the three months it’s been since the opening post, my purpose and my thesis have evolved quite a bit. To give you an overview, here is the new thesis and purpose statement for the book:
“The same way in which mental health for individuals comes from finding a balanced harmony between consciousness and the unconscious, so too will world health come from a balanced harmony between life and death.”
Give readers a new understanding of death by mapping the life/death binary to the consciousness/unconscious binary. This analogy gives the reader a rich body of inferential reasoning with which to understanding death, and therefore the role death plays for life. The most important of these mappings is the logic of individuation. The same way in which mental health for the individual comes from finding a balanced harmony between consciousness and the unconscious, so too will world health come from a balanced harmony between life and death. Understanding the interplay of these forces in harmony will allow the reader to grasp these dichotomies without difference, a state I call “both, and yet neither.” With this new vision, human individuals will be able to return to both themselves and to the world not as destroyers but as Caretakers of balance.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts over the next few weeks.
Featured image: art by Bill Dan. Visit his website and blog for more fantastic art and photography!
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