Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I'm writing an essay about Don DiLillo's novel White Noise, and would like to explore Murray Jay Siskand's fascination with death. The particular word I'm looking for means "death-centric", to fit in the topic sentence

"Furthermore, the consumerist society that envelops Siskind results in his <word goes here> viewpoint of his surroundings."

Failing that, is there a way to rework this sentence as to allow for an elegant focus on his death-centric viewpoint?

share|improve this question
8  
Death-centric is perfectly indicative of what you want to convey,however, the popular philosophical term is thanatocentric/thanatocentricism. –  moonstar2001 Aug 19 '13 at 3:28
1  
I'd rather rework the sentence to "Furthermore, the consumerist society that envelops Siskind causes him to take a view of his surroundings that is entirely centred on death." Or something. I don't think it's a good idea to use an obscure philosophical term that your readers might not know when you can rephrase the sentence so it's all in plain English, even if the English sentence is longer. –  Donkey_2009 Aug 19 '13 at 11:58
1  
Shouldn't it be ...results in the viewpoint of his surroundings being <word> or ...results in his <word> view of his surroundings? –  Benubird Aug 19 '13 at 13:24
1  
Is "White Noise" the book the same as "White Noise" the movie. It is an excellent movie. –  Blessed Geek Aug 20 '13 at 1:39
    
@BlessedGeek definitely not the same thing. The book is by Don Delillo –  Snakes and Coffee Aug 20 '13 at 6:57
add comment

9 Answers

up vote 14 down vote accepted

The combining form thanat- (or thanato-), meaning death, with the combining form -centric, gives you thanatocentric -- literally, centered on death.

share|improve this answer
15  
Honestly, I find death-centered preferable to thanatocentric, if for not other reason that even if I can stem it, most people can't. Not that forming fancy words based on classical roots is some moribund art or anything: I just like the English one in this case. –  tchrist Aug 19 '13 at 4:47
13  
Why on Earth would you want to say exactly the same thing expressed in another language?? –  matcheek Aug 19 '13 at 7:23
36  
thanatocentric is unlikely to be understood by a general reader. Morbid and macabre are much better words. –  Jack Aidley Aug 19 '13 at 7:31
2  
Both morbid and macabre have strong connotations that might not match what the OP is going for, in which case a more "academic" word might work better. Without knowing anything about the background material it's hard to judge. –  starwed Aug 19 '13 at 14:56
3  
Isn't it a sin to mix Latin with Greek like this? –  Michael Hardy Aug 19 '13 at 17:46
show 4 more comments

The word morbid might work

Characterized by or appealing to an abnormal and unhealthy interest in disturbing and unpleasant subjects, esp. death and disease.

Or macabre

having death as a subject : comprising or including a personalized representation of death

Although the dictionary definitions might suggest that macabre is a better fit, I would be more likely to use morbid in the example sentence. Macabre often implies some connection to the more horrific aspects of death, while morbid suggests an unhealthy/depressed world view. It's hard to truly judge the best fit without knowing more context!

share|improve this answer
1  
+1 for "macabre" –  tobyodavies Aug 19 '13 at 6:31
1  
My first thought was Morbid as well. Like the accepted answer, morbid is derived from an ancient language (Latin) word for death (mors). And litterally means focused on death. –  Mike Brown Aug 19 '13 at 17:44
add comment

The term you're looking for is

Morbid Obsession

You will find this term has deep usage, including in professional literature.

In the case of your fill-in-the-blank, you would say "morbidly obsessive"

share|improve this answer
    
"Anne is morbidly obsessive about her fears of being shot by a sniper on the street." In such a case, Anne is not at all obsessive about dead people or death in general. Rather, she is scared to death about being shot. –  Blessed Geek Aug 20 '13 at 1:30
    
She is still morbidly obsessed. The fact that it involves her own death is a secondary issue, but it doesn't change that she has an obsession with something related to death, and that this is a common usage. We would be far less likely to call her fear-of-being-killed as being "macabre" –  New Alexandria Aug 20 '13 at 12:26
    
But you are no longer providing an answer that would apply to the spectrum the question asked for. –  Blessed Geek Aug 21 '13 at 4:27
    
If you re-read the question, you'll see that your example to me is more off-topic than my answer. thx –  New Alexandria Aug 21 '13 at 12:37
    
Exactly - I agree with you totally. That is how the phrase "morbidly obsessed" is used. –  Blessed Geek Aug 22 '13 at 3:19
show 2 more comments

Necroxxx is exemplified by the following words:

Necrophilia, also called thanatophilia or necrolagnia, is the sexual attraction to corpses. It is classified as a paraphilia by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association. The word is derived from the Greek words: νεκρός (nekros; "dead") and φιλία (philia; "love").

The dictionaries have a more complete definition: nec·ro·phil·i·a (nkr-fl-) also nec·rophi·lism (n-krf-lzm, n-)

n.
1. Obsessive fascination with death and corpses.
2. Erotic attraction to or sexual contact with corpses.

Hence, necrophilic and necrophiliac.

The word is seek is probably necromania

Medical Dictionary
necromania: nec·ro·ma·ni·a (něk'rə-mā'nē-ə, -mān'yə)
n. An abnormal tendency to dwell with longing on death.

Hence necromaniac, a person who indulges in necromania.

Apparently, Necromania is also the name of a porn movie.

If you are willing to coin a new word, it could be necro-centric.

If you don't mind being sarcastic, then coin the word necroholic, addicted to the subject of the dead.

Other necro words are: necromancy, necrology, necrological, necrologistics, necrophoresis.

Furthermore, the consumerist society that envelops Siskind results in his necrophiliac/necromaniac/necro-centric viewpoint of his surroundings.

If I were you, I would use necro-centric.

share|improve this answer
    
Question - how did you happen upon necromania as a porn flick? –  Snakes and Coffee Aug 19 '13 at 6:03
    
Keyed "necromania" into google search to get to dictionary record so that I copy the dictionary record here, but google also presented the porn movie as one of the results. –  Blessed Geek Aug 19 '13 at 6:07
1  
Save it for the judge, pervert! :D –  Gusdor Aug 19 '13 at 7:20
    
Addendum: "The word YOU seek is probably necromania" rather than "The word IS seek is probably necromania". –  Blessed Geek Aug 20 '13 at 1:36
add comment

I have not read the book but to provide a bit of breadth to the discussion (and avoid pornography) I suggest "fatalistic." From dictionary.com:

Fatalistic: noun 1. the acceptance of all things and events as inevitable; submission to fate: Her fatalism helped her to face death with stoic calm. 2. Philosophy . the doctrine that all events are subject to fate or inevitable predetermination.

Thus:

Furthermore, the consumerist society that envelops Siskind results in [a] fatalistic viewpoint of his surroundings.

This provides a bit of elegance to your sentence while also providing the hint that the character's viewpoint is a bit darker.

share|improve this answer
add comment

I would suggest thanatotic as an appropriate contextual adjective if you want to specifically refer to the concept of death as opposed to a general fatalistic worldview.

der. from Thanatos http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Thanatos in a manner similar to eros

By analogy you might also use mortal, although common use of this term in other contexts might make it seem rather awkward in this sense.

thanatomania

This word exists and unlike the related necromania, does not have sexual connotations. No need for neologisms I guess.

share|improve this answer
add comment

"Morbid" was my first thought, too. Depending on the tone you want to achieve "necrophilic," used as a metaphor might add some punch.

share|improve this answer
12  
Uhhh... Necrophilia means something else entirely –  Snakes and Coffee Aug 19 '13 at 3:36
add comment

Morbid fits in well with the sentence. "Furthermore, the consumerist society that envelops Siskind results in his morbid viewpoint of his surroundings."

share|improve this answer
add comment

you can say eschatological viewpoint. The context will make the meaning abundantly clear.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.