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The Poetry of Everyday LifeStorytelling and the Art of Awareness$
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Steve Zeitlin

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781501702358

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501702358.001.0001

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Intimations of Immortality

Intimations of Immortality

The Artist’s Secular Sphere of Spirituality

(p.177) 17 Intimations of Immortality
The Poetry of Everyday Life

Steve Zeitlin

Cornell University Press

This chapter reflects on how memory provides “intimations of immortality” for loved ones still alive to remember and suggests that the artist's secular sphere of spirituality occurs at the intersection of time and timelessness. Henry Scott Holland (1847–1918), who was Regius Professor of Divinity at the University of Oxford, believes that the power of memory is so strong that friends and family, though separated by the wall of death, continue to communicate with one another unchanged. In The Broken Connection: On Death and the Continuity of Life, the psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton describes five ways in which we seek out continuity as mortal beings: through our children and family, cycles of nature, theology, ecstasy and transcendence, and creative works. Although many believe in heaven and hell as part of a divinely created universe, this chapter suggests that they are among those structures of meaning that humans themselves conceived: grand religious ideas with endless artistic elaborations that enable those who believe in God—and those who don't—to imagine eternity.

Keywords:   memory, intimations of immortality, art, spirituality, time, timelessness, death, Robert Jay Lifton, heaven and hell, eternity

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