Mort & Anthropologie.

Soins palliatifs, Ritualité, Mémoire, Deuil, Suicide assisté, Ethique, Esthétique, Technologie, Corps, Fin de vie, Croyance, Pratique professionnelle, Crémation, Catastrophe,

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Thinking the Obvious

This article (forthcoming in Terrain) describes and analyzes the negotiations for and arrangements of an assisted voluntary death in Switzerland for a particular person, Peter. His approach to an assisted voluntary death is observed in two moments, making visible two interconnected concerns: The first is to take up one moment in the process of evaluation, the clinical examination, and its relation to the “obviousness” of a language of choice, concerning the request for assistance with suicide. The multiple significations within the situation of evaluation and discussion are grasped with the help of Roland Barthes’ term le Neutre, or “the desire for the Neutral”: a search for a mode of semiotic engagement that eludes, or ruffles, signifying oppositions. The second major stake of the article is to make visible an ethical and aesthetic question pertaining to the gestures of assisted suicide: a question of how to grasp the semiotic determinations and indeterminations in this manner of dying. The article takes up the motion in gestures, and their significations, in order to grasp their ethical stakes, relative to a double iconographic tradition, that of compassion and lamentation, through attention to the actual form given to Peter’s death.