Writing and death, a la John Updike



Not only are selves conditional but they die. Each day, we wake slightly altered, and the person we were yesterday is dead. So why, one could say, be afraid of death, when death comes all the time? It is even possible to dislike our old selves, those disposable ancestors of ours. For instance, my high-school self — skinny, scabby, giggly, gabby, frantic to be noticed, tormented enough to be a tormentor, relentlessly pushing his cartoons and posters and noisy jokes and pseudo-sophisticated poems upon the helpless high school — strikes me now as considerably obnoxious, though I owe him a lot: without his frantic ambition and insecurity I would not be sitting on (as my present home was named by others) Haven Hill. – John Updike, as quoted from his 1996 memoir, Self-Consciousness.

Note: John Updike (1932-2009) was a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author, novelist, and essayist, who was best known for his Rabbit Angstrom novel series, one that depicts a pathetic life of an American middle-class individual entrapped in a visceral midlife crisis, starting from his youth, to his heyday, to his death. He passed away in 2009 for lung cancer, partially thanks to his chain-smoking habit.

Look up for more Updike’s quotes about correlating writing and death in Brain Pickings.


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