Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ashok Karra invites us to rethink the fear of death. Is constant expectation of the exhaustion of time even compatible with a good life, let alone the basis of one? The site of this rethinking is Emily Dickinson's "Each Second is the last:"

Each second is the last
Perhaps, recalls the Man
Just measuring unconsciousness
The Sea and Spar between.

To fail within a Chance -
How terribler a thing
Than perish from the Chance's list
Before the Perishing!

About the opening line Ashok observes, "But something is dubious about the proposition in merely articulating it: it was recalled after a second had passed." In the time it takes to summon up a generalization that can tell us about the present moment, the moment passes. Perhaps instead of "merely articulating" the proposition as such the Man should have gone further--and this is not to say that he should have also applied the generalization to the new present moment (since this, too, makes the moment disappear), but rather that the difference between generalization and application should have been surmounted.

Doesn't one fear what can be present? But the fearful perhaps is already past when the proposition reaches it.