the West does not have a death-wish exactly

Artificially dated - this blog did not exist back then.
This has been copied here in revised form.

Three days ago, Frank Rich in the NYTimes made the case that the USA has a death-wish.

What Western society has is a breath death-wish. They have this because they are both a settler culture, and also a (repressed) warrior culture. Something of a contradiction.

The breath-death-wish is the West's answer to the question: 'what is the relation between two of us?' It is the urge that no-one breathe in a way to produce a third-eye (or that no-one breathe in conflict with their born primate status).

The West accomplishes this partly with ... the birthday party.
[It has done so since the maturity of the Industrial Revolution].

The defining moment is when the individual blows out his own candles.

The unconscious knows of the breath's contingent relation to memory. It understands that the animal literally can choose which of its own memories to send more of the body's resources to.

Only when the child extinguishes these symbols of his own potential enlightenment does he get a) his true, secret wish and b) the sweet cake and ice cream.

the affinity for black

The unconscious breath-death-wish is so significant it appears on the surface of society in many ways. It often appears as an affinity for blackness or death-symbols.

The black in these cases means multiple things:

  • The person is mourning the childhood death of their own enlightenment (and their participation in it)
  • the person wants no-one else to be enlightened, so unerringly they wish to 'kill' a certain type breathing by other people (this is the breath-death-wish)
This (primate) contradiction makes it confusing, makes it difficult to parse the symbols. Not seeing deeply enough, some conclude that Western culture has a death-wish, even though it is something else.

[Frank Rich's column arguing the USA culture as a death-wish discussed the Terri Schiavo phenomenon and the death of the Pope]

Ultimately some people who have profoundly internalized this ceremony and crippled their own memories accordingly see on TV a woman they never met in a coma (but blinking her eyes), or they see a passed-on religious figure in white (who they normally could figure out was an ass****), and project their own loss onto that person, and mourn.