By Alice Bennett
Afterlife and Narrative explores why existence after dying is this kind of effective cultural inspiration this day, and why it really is such an enticing prospect for contemporary fiction. The ebook mines a wealthy vein of imagined afterlives, from the temporal experiments of Martin Amis's Time's Arrow to narration from heaven in Alice Sebold's the beautiful Bones .
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Additional info for Afterlife and Narrative in Contemporary Fiction
His essay, ‘Memento Dead Endings 41 Mori’ (2001), approaches the title by way of its OED definition, and he comments on its uneasy pairing of two seemingly irreconcilable demands: ‘How is “memento mori” split, split in this way between warning and reminder? ’ (196). I concluded above that this is the same temporal split as occurs in the reading of narrative, which requires the anticipation of retrospection, a projection into the future that imagines the present as past. The doubled warning and reminder are also significant in terms of Brooks’s use of the analogy of the death drive as the desire for narrative endings: making them half-threat, halfpromise; that which is most desired but must also be avoided.
As I hope to demonstrate here, there are subtleties and ambiguities about the afterlife which involve all kinds of symbolic supplements to living, beyond a literal story about life after death. Conversely, the afterlife as a model for endings can take in lots of things that apocalypse (because of its scale and power, or because of its unrepeatability) cannot cover. More recent studies of apocalypse take their cue from Derrida’s expansion of the possibilities of the apocalyptic in his essay ‘Of an Apocalyptic Tone Recently Adopted in Philosophy’ (1984).
And are centuries of focusing attention on the promise of future eternal life partly responsible, providing practice in the depresentification of experience? 12 Richard Klein, in ‘The Future of Nuclear Criticism’ (1990), identifies a similar time-sense in contemporary thought, but links it to a concern with an apocalyptic future, bringing this discussion into another circle. Taking up Derrida’s point on the unsettling consequences of apocalypse for discourse Klein asks, like Derrida, what pleasure or profit, ‘what bonus of seduction or intimidation’ there is in the apocalyptic aesthetic.