Present, Tense

Sorry for the silence. The truth is I’m tired. Managed to get myself all the way to Exeter and now on the farm. Shillingford is a 42 acre organic vegetable farm and pretty  busy. The starts are early, the work is physical and I’m really slow. I am enjoying it though and have learnt a lot already.


As the voluteers finish at 1 I’ve also had plenty of time to read and think. I’ve been reading a book on psychology by Ernest Becker called ‘The Denial of Death’. The basic premise is that man is governed by his anxiety about dying and his awareness of being finite. There are some really intesting concepts in the book and how this anxiety affects us.

One such concept that jumped out to me was in the analysis of fetishism and particular our sado-masochistic tendencies. Becker writes:

Masochism is thus a way of taking anxiety of life and death and the overwhelming terror of existence and congealing them into a small dosage.

Now my friend introduced me to the concept of ‘type 2 fun’ last year and Becker starts to unravel why we gain enjoyment in suffering. It neatly gives a nice solid basis for seeking ‘adventure’ as we put ourselves in percieved dangerous or arduous situations look death in the face and challenge our anxiety.

It also gives us a platform for another concept in the book that of personal ‘immortality projects’ where we try to transcend death through heroism. The heroic explorer is a mode of making sure we live on in the minds of others. These days we try to consolidate that through creative mediums such as writing. However it is hard to be heroic. The bar for heroism has shifted and you may also lack talent. Then in Becker’s analysis this self generated solution to solving the problem of death anxiety will fail.

I haven’t finished the last chapter so I can’t spoil the ending but I would highly recommend reading it. Although it is tough and I won’t pretend to have understood it all it has certaintly given me more food for thought.

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