Western Attitudes Toward Death: From the Middle Ages to the Present Paperback – 31 Jan 1972
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"Ariès traces Western man's attitudes toward mortality from the early medieval conception of death as the familiar collective destiny of the human race to the modern tendency, so pronounced in industrial societies, to hide death as if it were an embarrassing family secret." -- Newsweek--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Philip Ariés was a social historian whose books Centuries of Childhood and At the Hour of our Death won great acclaim when first published in France, England and the United States.
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aries takes the reader on a morbid but a fascinating journey through western history of death. the conclusion is that death has become the "new pornography" (quoting gorer) in a modern/enlightenment based societies. death is the great scandal in the western culture where everything is, or at least hoped to be in the future, controlled by the development of science. but death lies beyond that hope. at least that's my take on it.
In American culture obsessed with youth, death has been shoved into the closet to be peeked at only when absolutely necessary. We deny our own mortality, hiding our advancing years with surgeries and fad diets and fashion and promiscuity. Effectively, we are completely un-equipped to handle death, whether someone else's or our own. We not only don't wish to think about it, we can't. It's hidden, and we are supposed to deny ourselves even the visible grief which a true loss of any kind merits. We are often expected to be more emotional about a damaged vehicle or a bad meal or a rude person in traffic than we are when dealing with the death of a loved one.
Read and learn. Read and re-evaluate the wisdom of such intentional ignorance, and what you might wish to do differently for yourself and for those around you whenever the time comes to shuffle off this mortal coil.
I might be inclined to read the author's larger work on the subject in order to get more in-depth and actually understand what he's trying to say. But I fear that at the end I would be left with the same unanswered questions which would just frustrate me.