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    • October 2014
    • 9780231147811
  • 288 Pages
  • 113 illus

  • Paperback
  • $20.00
  • / £14.00

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    • October 2009
    • 9780231147804
  • 288 Pages
  • 113 illus

  • Hardcover
  • $26.95
  • / £18.95

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    • October 2009
    • 9780231520034
  • 288 Pages
  • 113 illus

  • E-book
  • $19.99
  • / £14.00

Field Notes from Elsewhere

Reflections on Dying and Living

Mark C. Taylor

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."

About the Author

Mark C. Taylor is professor of religion and chair of the Department of Religion at Columbia University. His most recent books are Recovering Place: Reflections on Stone Hill; Refiguring the Spiritual: Beuys, Barney, Turrell, Goldsworthy; Rewiring the Real: In Conversation with William Gaddis, Richard Powers, Mark Danielewski, and Don DeLillo; After God; Mystic Bones; and Confidence Games: Money and Markets in a World Without Redemption.

"Mark Taylor's Field Notes from Elsewhere is an intoxicating whirl of a book, an engine of thought and feeling that touches on everything that counts most to us: living and dying, families, faith, friendship, and the quest to ground oneself in the real. To the best of my knowledge, it is a work without precedent." — Paul Auster, author of The New York Trilogy, among other novels

"Mark Taylor is without peer as the most important postmodern secular theologian working today. This new work is beautiful and brilliant, moving and powerful in the extreme, always smart, and often deeply insightful. I found that I could not put it down." — David Miller, Syracuse University

"In olden days it was not all that rare for a person to die and miraculously return to tell what they experienced in that journey to the Other world. Unlike Dante's Divine Comedy, which represents a journey predictably and orderly, Mark Taylor's personal version of the space of death is anything but. Shocked witless but playing it cool with family and Kierkegaard as his spirit-allies, the past and all that makes life is treasured, measured, realigned, demolished, and above all seen anew, thanks to the terrible closeness of the grim reaper from whom Taylor broke free so as to liberate philosophy and divinity itself." — Michael Taussig, Columbia University

"Mark Taylor has been a magisterial but impersonal presence in his pathbreaking work on art, religion, and the ebbing of modernity. In Field Notes from Elsewhere, he takes us out of the library and into his life in a series of death-haunted meditations. Neither a summation nor a memoir, Field Notes from Elsewhere is an epilogue offered, provocatively, as the prologue to a sequel that someone other than Taylor must write." — Jack Miles, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for God: A Biography

About the Author

Mark C. Taylor is professor of religion and chair of the Department of Religion at Columbia University. His most recent books are Recovering Place: Reflections on Stone Hill; Refiguring the Spiritual: Beuys, Barney, Turrell, Goldsworthy; Rewiring the Real: In Conversation with William Gaddis, Richard Powers, Mark Danielewski, and Don DeLillo; After God; Mystic Bones; and Confidence Games: Money and Markets in a World Without Redemption.

Day / Night
Beginning / Origin
Elsewhere / Silence
Reflections / Reticence
Premonitions / Postcards
Home / Afterlife
Stealth / Sacrifice
Killing / Elemental
Abandonment / Mortality
Displacement / Place
Creativity / Thinking
E/Mergence / Emptiness
Walls / Garden
Painting / Play
Perhaps / Numbers
Pleasure / Money
Vocation / Teaching
Last / Burial
Solitude / Loneliness
Things / Ghosts
Levity / Grief
Humor / Monsters
Faction / Dishonesty
Inheritance / Withholding
Letting Go / Dinnertime
Compassion / Suffering
Clouds / Waiting
Freedom / Terror
Forgiveness / Cruelty
Daughters / Obsession
Failure / Success
Balance / Simplicity
Face / Aging
Stigma / Autoimmunity
Patience / Chronicity
Technology / Addiction
Pain / Intimacy
Blindness / Aura
Cancer / Surviving
Trust / Bitterness
Hands / Will
Secrets / Tripping
Strangers / Tips
Sharing / Fatigue
Idleness / Guilt
Driving / Accident
Imperfection / Vulnerability
Friendship / Doubt
Love / Fidelity
Hope / Despair
Happiness / Melancholy
Ordinary / Extraordinary
Notes
Acknowledgments

About the Author

Mark C. Taylor is professor of religion and chair of the Department of Religion at Columbia University. His most recent books are Recovering Place: Reflections on Stone Hill; Refiguring the Spiritual: Beuys, Barney, Turrell, Goldsworthy; Rewiring the Real: In Conversation with William Gaddis, Richard Powers, Mark Danielewski, and Don DeLillo; After God; Mystic Bones; and Confidence Games: Money and Markets in a World Without Redemption.

About the Author

Mark C. Taylor is professor of religion and chair of the Department of Religion at Columbia University. His most recent books are Recovering Place: Reflections on Stone Hill; Refiguring the Spiritual: Beuys, Barney, Turrell, Goldsworthy; Rewiring the Real: In Conversation with William Gaddis, Richard Powers, Mark Danielewski, and Don DeLillo; After God; Mystic Bones; and Confidence Games: Money and Markets in a World Without Redemption.

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About the Author

Mark C. Taylor is professor of religion and chair of the Department of Religion at Columbia University. His most recent books are Recovering Place: Reflections on Stone Hill; Refiguring the Spiritual: Beuys, Barney, Turrell, Goldsworthy; Rewiring the Real: In Conversation with William Gaddis, Richard Powers, Mark Danielewski, and Don DeLillo; After God; Mystic Bones; and Confidence Games: Money and Markets in a World Without Redemption.

About the Author

Mark C. Taylor is professor of religion and chair of the Department of Religion at Columbia University. His most recent books are Recovering Place: Reflections on Stone Hill; Refiguring the Spiritual: Beuys, Barney, Turrell, Goldsworthy; Rewiring the Real: In Conversation with William Gaddis, Richard Powers, Mark Danielewski, and Don DeLillo; After God; Mystic Bones; and Confidence Games: Money and Markets in a World Without Redemption.