Friday, May 24, 2013

Suicide Note Writing 101

Simon Critchley
If Kierkegaard were a student at The New School he would undoubtedly have taken Simon Critchley’s “Suicide Note Writing Workshop.” The author of Fear and Trembling and The Sickness Unto Death, might also have been able to exchange chatter with such famous suicides as Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath, John Berryman, Virginia Woolf and Primo Levi, provided they too had been students of his at The New School. “We’re not mocking suicide,” Mr. Critchley, a professor of Philosophy and author of a number of books including The Book of Dead Philosophers told the Times (“A Writing Class Focuses on Goodbyes," NYT, 5/19/13). “We’re doing this as a way to understand it. And why not be a little insensitive? People are terrified in talking about death.” Actually according to the Times piece the course itself was not given at The New School, where Critchley teaches but as part of a “monthlong series of performances, installations and lectures called the School of Death by Cabinet Magazine and the Family Business exhibition space on West 21st Street.” But no mind if this is just the equivalent of a 100 level course for beginners (those merely contemplating suicide), one can’t wait for the 300 level senior seminar, in which there is a competition for spots. For that one you would have to be pretty far along, or far gone and not just a victim of suicidal ideation, but someone who had a near death experience or actually crossed over. This latter case would pose complexities for the registrar, but with Yahoo buying Tumblr and opportunities for social networking increasing by leaps and bounds, it shouldn’t be long before professors will be able to teach on-line courses in the hereafter as well as the here-in-now.  

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