Life forever holds within itself, coiled at the very centre of its unfolding, the fearful promise of death. That death, emerging from the shadows of the living, from the darkness that forever follows the living, brings about an absolute end-of-life, brings down its sickle upon the vitality of the existent in order to return it to nonexistence. Death then, the absolute, final end-of-life, is that nothingness, that emptiness, that hollow darkness, which is forever stalking the living, anticipating that twilight upon which it may exercise its right to return ashes to ashes and dust to dust, restoring that which is living to the barren desolation of the non-living. This is the terror that has plagued the thought of the Western episteme since at least the conception of episteme as such.
Such a conception of death, as that which brings an absolute end-of-life, has been persistent, and for all good sense, and indeed philosophy, it appears as though it could be no other way. How can it be possible for one to speak of death other than as an absolute end-of-life? Is it not precisely a complete and absolute lack of life that is characteristic of death? It would appear foolish to attempt to think otherwise, to think death as something other than the final, absolute and total end-of-life. Nevertheless, in spite of its apparent stupidity, its total lack of good sense, its absurdity, and indeed as some might say, its impossibility, that is precisely the task to now be placed at hand, that of thinking life and death tendentially; that is to say what is here sought is an interrogation of the tendential relationship between the living and the non-living. The failure of the Western episteme to think death in a manner other than what I shall be calling the finalist conception does it great disservice (and let me be clear early on that on the one hand there is indeed a episteme, the episteme—that is the episteme of ontology, metaphysics and logos—for in no other way and at no other time has episteme been thought as such, that is as episteme and as Western; whereas, on the other hand, there is indeed a heterogeneity of epistemes that is irreducible to an episteme, a difference that is not internal but rather demonstrates unavoidably the open and connective nature of episteme itself, that allows episteme to form from that which is other than episteme and forever prevents its closure). Such a conception, that of absolute death, paralyses thought under the stifling force of fear and sorrow, and leaves us unable to even approach questions regarding the living. Our minds, moulded as they are by the episteme of finalist death, reel in horror at anything that is not static, clear and oppositional, anything that approaches the fluidity of life and indeed its relationship with the non-living.