A Selection From Elias Canetti’s ‘The Book Against Death’

Elias Canetti at Salmagundi:

Today I decided that I will record thoughts against death as they happen to occur to me, without any kind of structure and without submitting them to any tyrannical plan. I cannot let this war pass without hammering out a weapon within my heart that will conquer death. It will be tortuous and insidious, perfectly suited to it. In better times I would wield it as a joke or a brazen threat. I think of the act of slaying death as a masquerade. Employing fifty disguises and numerous plots is how I’d do it. But now death has switched masks yet again. No longer content with its ongoing daily victory, death grabs whatever it can. It riddles the air and the seas; whether the smallest or the largest, it doesn’t matter, for it wants it all, and it has no time for anything else. Nor do I have any time. I have to nab it wherever I can, nail it here and there in first-rate sentences. At the moment I cannot house it in any coffins, much less embalm it, much less lay the embalmed to rest in a gated mausoleum.
Pascal was 39 years old when he died, I will soon be 37. That means I have barely two years left, which isn’t much time! He left behind his scattered defense of Christianity. I want to gather my thoughts on the defense of the human in the face of death.

more here.