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I couldn't be more excited to bring you this episode with death expert, bestselling author, and mortician, Caitlin Doughty!
Caitlin is the author of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory as well as her new book about death rites, From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death.
She's also the host of the wildly popular youtube series, Ask A Mortician which is one of the foundation stones of the death positive movement, which is seeking to change our relationship to death in our culture.
In this ep:
- Taking death rites out of the “News of the Weird” category: 5:30
- If we can’t think it’s okay for someone to interact with the mummy of their mother, how will we work on our politics? 11:20
- Conner Sees His Dead Mother, or But can we really respect people’s experiences or is it just lip service? 13:25
- Resisting creating a metaphysic around death…or forcing yours on someone else: 19:15
- The potential of the strange psychological, spiritual event of death: 21:40
- How death is our life’s project: 23.50.
- What’s Your Death Fantasy? (And why?): 27:50
- Lacan, Bataille, and how thinking about what the dead want tells us about the living: 34:55
- Grieving is a physical process: 39:05
- The boundary reveals itself as the connection: 40:25
- How death makes us available to others in a new way: 42:20
- Death is the engine that moves life forward: 48:00
- The origins of sex: 49:00
- And here’s where we get irritated about the singularity. And go on about it for quite a bit: 52:30
Caitlin and I have collaborated a few times before. Most notably on an episode of Ask the Mortician, where we discussed death & sex goals for 2017. Also on my blog when I was recording conversations to get myself ready to do a web series, and when we did an event together a few years ago (which is where we met!).
Ernest Becker comes up a few times. He's a death-focused philosopher who's been hugely influential for members the death positive movement, including Caitlin. The professor I mention in the episode, Kirby Farrell, is big into Becker. I love Kirby, by the way, even though I didn't love how he handled the situation I mentioned.
Adam Phillips is one of my very favorite writers, and my favorite book by him, which I mention, is Darwin’s Worms: On Life Stories and Death Stories. Here, also, is a little video interview with him which I like, as well as a lengthy and excellent interview with him in the Paris Review.
Here's my essay about my mother’s cancer, Susan Sontag’s cancer, and when I was told I had cancer, too: "When You're Sick You'll Wait for the Answer But None Will Come"
Jacques Lacan said, “There is no sexual relationship.” It's a statement that has been interpreted in several ways. Here are two books that get at the question. What Is Sex? by Alenka Zupančič, and There’s No Such Thing as a Sexual Relationship: Two Lessons on Lacan by Alain Badiou and Barbara Cassin. If Lacan is daunting to you, well, yeah. That's Lacan. Which is why I wrote an easy-to-read intro essay on him.
Last but not least is my essay on bacteria recreating themselves by inventing sex in the light of the Sun. It's the first in a series of very short essays I wrote on the origins of sex, so follow the thread through if you like that one.
Thanks for watching, reading, fucking, dying,