The Millennium Cometh:
Apocalypse and Utopia in Bible, Sociology and Literature
Profs. John Coleman, S.J. (Sociology),  Felix Just, S.J. (Theology),  Holli Levitsky (English)
Loyola Marymount University - Spring 2000

Prof. Levitsky's Lecture Notes for Jan. 27, 2000
IMAGES from WHITE NOISE


1) "...I think it's a mistake to lose one's sense of death, even one's fear of death. Isn't death the boundary we need? Doesn't it give a precious texture to life, a sense of definition? You have to ask yourself whether anything you do in this life would have beauty and meaning without the knowledge you carry of a final line, a border or limit" (228-9).
 

 

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2) "He would be Death, or Death's errand-runner, a hollow-eyed technician from the plague era, from the era of inquisitions, endless wars, of bedlams and leprosariums. He would be an aphorist of last things, giving me the barest glance--civilized, ironic--as he spoke his deft and stylish line about my journey out...How does it feel to see Death in the flesh, come to gather you in? I was scared to the marrow. I was cold and hot, dry and wet, myself and someone else" (243).
3) "Picture yourself, Jack, a confirmed homebody, a sedentary fellow who finds himself walking in a deep wood. You spot something out of the corner of your eye. Before you know anything else, you know that this thing is very large and that it has no place in your ordinary frame of reference. A flaw in the world picture. Either it shouldn't be here or you shouldn't. Now the thing comes into full view. It is a grizzly bear, enormous, shiny brown, swaggering, dripping slime from its bared fangs. Jack, you have never seen a large animal in the wild. The sight of this grizzer is so electrifyingly strange that it gives you a renewed sense of yourself, a fresh awareness of the self--the self in terms of a unique and horrific situation. You see yourself in a new and intense way. You rediscover yourself. You are lit up for your own imminent dismemberment. The beast on hind legs has enabled you to see who you are as if for the first time, outside familiar surroundings, alone, distinct, whole. The name we give to this complicated process is fear." "Fear is self-awareness raised to a higher level...If death can be seen as less strange and unreferenced, your sense of self in relation to death will diminish, and so will your fear" (229).

 

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4)  "How can pretending to be injured or dead save a person's life?" "If she does it now, she might not have to do it later. The more you practice something, the less likely it is to actually happen" (207).

 

5) "Tibetans believe there is a transitional state between death and rebirth. Death is a waiting period...That's what I think of whenever I come in here. [The supermarket] recharges us spiritually, it prepares us, it's a gateway or pathway. Look how bright. It's full of psychic data...Everything is concealed in symbolism, hidden by veils of mystery and layers of cultural material. But it is psychic data, absolutely. The large doors slide open, they close unbidden. Energy waves, incident radiation. All the letters and numbers are here, all the colors of the spectrum, all the voices and sounds, all the code words and ceremonial phrases. It is just a question of deciphering, rearranging, peeling off the layers of unspeakability" (37-8).

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6) "We have these deep terrible lingering fears about ourselves and the people we love. Yet we walk around, talk to people, eat and drink. We manage to function. The feelings are deep and real. Shouldn't they paralyze us? How is it we can survive them, at least for a while? We drive a car, we teach a class. How is it no one sees how deeply afraid we were, last night, this morning? Is it something we all hide from each other, by mutual consent? Or do we share the same secret without knowing it? Wear the same disguise?" "What if death is nothing but sound?" "Electrical noise." "You hear it forever. Sound all around. How awful." "Uniform, white."

7) "No one knew what was wrong. Investigators said it could be the ventilating system, the paint or varnish, the foam insulation, the electrical insulation, the cafeteria food, the rays emitted by microcomputers, the asbestos fireproofing, the adhesive on shipping containers, the fumes from the chlorinated pool, or perhaps something deeper, finer-grained, more closely woven into the basic state of things" (35).

 

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8) "Baba, I am the one in this family who is obsessed by death. I have always been the one...You are the happy one. I am the doomed fool. That's what I can't forgive you for. Telling me you're not the woman I believed you were. I'm hurt, I'm devastated...I've been afraid for more than half my life." "What do you want me to say? Your fear is older and wiser than mine?" (197-8)


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