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Religion & Spirituality

Field Notes from Elsewhere: Reflections on Dying and Living - Mark Taylor

Field Notes from Elsewhere: Reflections on Dying and Living

Author: Mark Taylor
Book title: Field Notes from Elsewhere: Reflections on Dying and Living
ISBN: 0231147805
ISBN13: 978-0231147804
Publisher: Columbia University Press; 1st Edition edition (October 1, 2009)
Language: English
Category: Religious Studies
Rating: 4.5/5
Votes: 815
Pages: 288 pages
More formats: azw rtf lrf txt

In the fall of 2005, Mark C. Taylor, the controversial public intellectual and widely respected scholar, suddenly fell critically ill. For two days a team of forty doctors, many of whom thought he would not live, fought to save him. Taylor would eventually recover, but only to face a new threat: surgery for cancer. "These experiences have changed me in ways I am still struggling to understand," Taylor writes in this absorbing memoir. "After the past year, I am persuaded that I have done enough fieldwork to write a book that combines philosophical and theological reflection with autobiographical narrative. Writing is not only possible but actually seems necessary."Field Notes from Elsewhere is Taylor's unforgettable, inverted journey from death to life. Each of his memoir's fifty-two chapters and accompanying photographs recounts a morning-to-evening experience with sickness and convalescence, mingling humor and hope with a deep exploration of human frailty and, conversely, resilience. When we confront the end of life, Taylor explains, the axis of the lived world shifts, and everything must be reevaluated. As Taylor sorts through his remembrances, much that once seemed familiar becomes strange, paradoxical, and contradictory. He reads his experience with and against ghosts from his past, recasting the meaning of mortality, sacrifice, solitude, and abandonment, along with a host of other issues, in light of modern ways of dying. "You never come back from elsewhere," Taylor concludes, "because elsewhere always comes back with you."
Reviews: (4)
Taylor is a true philosopher that reflectes on what genuinely matters. This is a powerful and personal, outspoken, touching and uncompromising book by a leading American philosopher. Mark Taylor who has demonstrated his scholarly brilliance and literary genius in s series of highly original books, lives out to the grand promise of philosophy with these accessible, nontechnically written "field notes". Examine life, create better life through thinking: such is the original call of philosophy, the torch that Taylor carries. This is content philosophy at its best. Taylor demonstrates reflective courage on the great themes of life with full force and integrity. This is Taylor, a tremendeously productive and creative thinker of an astonishingly wide range and imagination, investigating the fundamentals of what makes us human.

Reading the book, you cry, and celebrate life more.
Phallozs Dwarfs
I think I am not the ideal reader for this book - I am more on the ethical, less on the metaphysical/existential end of the continuum of readership around this sort of topic - but it is a truly striking and engaging piece of work - strongly recommended. (Full disclosure: Mark Taylor is my Columbia colleague, so I am perhaps predisposed in favor; but the book is truly well worth your while...)
"Field Notes from Elsewhere" is on the ROROTOKO list of cutting-edge intellectual nonfiction. Professor Taylor's book interview ran here as cover feature on October 30, 2009.
The author's near-death experience appears to have made him exceptionally self-absorbed and smug (assuming he wasn't that way before). There are many pictures of himself, boring accounts of his youth and family, and many expressions of how he has found a superior way of life and a superior attitude which he expects us to admire. Along the way, he offers an occasional wise aphorism.
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