Commentary: discourse on death and beyond
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Commentary: discourse on death and beyond book
Thus far in my interpretation of how Suga and Fumiko presented themselves in relation to death, I have commented only on some contextual issues. In order to make sense of the sense they made to those they were conversing with, however, an understanding of their respective discursive contexts is necessary. This first requires a consideration of the general 'discourse on death and beyond' in which they participated. In this chapter, therefore, my focus is on the more abstract discursive context: the religions, philosophies, ontologies that might have influenced Suga's and Fumiko's constructions of death. After some preliminary remarks on thanatology, particularly as it relates to Japan, Tenrikyo and Christianity will claim my attention. This will be followed by a discussion of Meiji and Taisho 'physics' and metaphysics, much of the latter part of which will concentrate on Fumiko's philosophical influences. Finally, five modes of symbolic 'immortality' said to be universat,1 will be utilized as a framework for interpreting further the ways in which, when facing death, Suga and Fumiko each expressed a sense of continuity with life. This interpretation of the more abstract, 'grey' areas of the subjects' engagements with death will also hinge upon of the centrality of the issue of power. Even the literal sense of 'immortality' implies that one lives on, that mortality is negated: death, in short, has lost its 'sting'. And when the context of such a symbolization of immortality is a courtroom or cell where one is being threatened with death, it can also be seen to be empowering not just in relation to the 'last enemy' of death, but also other opponents.