Ambition of Ghosts


Action is what takes place in front of the camera, with the lights turned on, to throw the rest of reality into darkness…Those for whom not to be seen is nonexistence are not alive; and the kind of existence they seek, the immortality they seek, is spectral; to be seen is the ambition of ghosts, and to be remembered the ambition of the dead. The public realm is the stage for heroic action, and heroes are specters of the living dead.


The passport which grants access to the public realm, which distinguishes master from slave, the essential political virtue, is the courage to die, to commit suicide, to make one’s life a living death. “One must pay dearly for immortality: one has to die several times while still alive” (Nietzsche).


— Norman O. Brown

Love’s Body, 1966

(via Google Books or download pdfs at Muse)


Originally published in 1966 and now recognized as a classic, Norman O. Brown’s meditation on the condition of humanity and its long fall from the grace of a natural, instinctual innocence is available once more for a new generation of readers. Love’s Body is a continuation of the explorations begun in Brown’s famous Life Against Death. Rounding out the trilogy is Brown’s brilliant Apocalypse and/or Metamorphosis.

Published by: University of California Press