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Life Against Death: The Psychoanalytical…

Life Against Death: The Psychoanalytical Meaning of History (original 1959; edition 1985)

by Norman O. Brown (Author), Christopher Lasch (Contributor)

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404537,923 (4.11)7
Title:Life Against Death: The Psychoanalytical Meaning of History
Authors:Norman O. Brown (Author)
Other authors:Christopher Lasch (Contributor)
Info:Wesleyan (1985), Edition: 2nd, 387 pages
Collections:Wishlist, To read (inactive)
Tags:sociology, society, culture

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Life against Death by Norman O. Brown (1959)


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I have no idea why this book does not get more play. It is of course a bit dated and perhaps a bit misguided in its move towards 'polymorphous perversity' as the overcoming of repression. That being said I don't read too many books with the same forceful, clear, and original analysis and argumentation. With the resurgence of psychoanalysis in the last decade hopefully this book will be taken up again. ( )
  DavidCLDriedger | Apr 22, 2015 |
Brown's re-evaluation of Freud takes a chisel to the the stuffy political correctness of modern psychoanalysis to reveal its writhing, breathing Dionysian elements, in effort to construct a pathway out of neuroses. We are shown Freud's inheritance of Blake and Boehme, the civilized man's alchemy of turning shit into gold, and the necessity of the marriage of life and death. A dense and explosive cocktail of criticism, psychology, philosophy, and stray hairs of the poetic. Sigmund gone wide-eyed and frothing at the mouth, gnawing on the hydrogen bomb. ( )
2 vote poetontheone | Aug 24, 2011 |
I've only read the Swift chapter (a classic revisionist interpretation of Book IV of Gulliver's Travels) in earnest, but if that's any indication, this is a very interesting, if contrarian, book. ( )
  ehines | Nov 10, 2010 |
I read this book a couple years ago. It's a book that had been on my list of things to read for a long time – the result, I think of being infatuated with Pynchon, in particular Gravity's Rainbow, which uses this as a source. I'm not sure what impelled me to order a used copy off Amazon – does Sontag write about Norman O. Brown somewhere? Something reminded me of it, and I ordered a copy and it sat on the shelf and looked imposing for a long time until I packed it into my bag, along with Jan Potocki's Manuscript Found in Saragossa, on a trip to Tennessee where my little brother was graduating from tuba-college. Potocki's book is a delight to read, if slightly exhausting, and I tore through it on the plane out and during downtime at my brother's; finished, I gave it to my mother, thinking that she might like it. My brother successfully graduated, everyone left, and finally he drove me to the airport in Knoxville, where I was to fly to New York from. Alas, Tennessee is a very wide state, and Knoxville is in a different time zone than Cookeville is, and I missed me flight, in part because we decided to have lunch at the Waffle House on the way to the airport. It turned out there were no other flights leaving for New York until early the next morning; with nothing else to do, I checked into the airport hotel with my copy of Life Against Death for company.

The Knoxville airport is a small airport and there's nothing to do there; like most airports, it's outside the city. After exhausting the television, I set into Life Against Death; finally, it was time for dinner, and there was nothing to do but to wander down the highway on foot looking for a dining establishment. What was there near the Knoxville airpot? An Applebee's, one of those terrible Chinese restaurants that's been around long enough to still have a Polynesian decorating scheme, probably a Burger King. And some sort of homegrown version of Long John Silver's that was similarly past its prime. That looked the most interesting, though yes, Tennessee is a landlocked state and it really has no business with nautical restaurants, and I went in there and had some sort of fisherman's dinner and read Life Against Death, hoping that none of the other customers (families with large numbers of small children) would ask what I was reading and wonder why I was reading that.

Early the next morning I flew back to New York. I remember, I have to say, just about nothing from Life Against Death, and I don't remember much about what Brown argues in it: trying to put psychoanalysis against a reading of the classics? One of those books, maybe, that could have been important, though that importance is hard for me to gage now, and one is left with a feeling of ponderousness.
2 vote dbvisel | Aug 1, 2008 |
I still pick up this book for its bits and pieces. It shudders. It shakes. It smokes. Things come out of the woodwork. It's Freud on PCP, basically.
2 vote kencf0618 | Oct 18, 2005 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0819561444, Paperback)

A shocking and extreme interpretation of the father of psychoanalysis.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:02 -0400)

Product Description: A shocking and extreme interpretation of the father of psychoanalysis.

(summary from another edition)

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