Monday, June 11, 2018


In The Myth of Sisyphus  Camus wrote “There is only one serious philosophical problem and that is suicide.” Camus himself committed at the age of 46 in a car accident, but his famous line is most often seen as a distant homiletic. You envision hands being raised in a classroom, as students rifle through underlined pages of the essay. Yet when the act hits you squarely in the face as it’s done this past week with the suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, it’s hard to take a philosophical attitude. Suicide is a little like death itself. No one can know death unless you’ve been there and once you have crossed the line, you’re no longer going to be able to report back. Is suicide a message or simply a search for ultimate relief? Is it an act that's rationally taken or is the possibly copy cat nature of Bourdain's act, for instance (both Spade and Bourdain had daughters and both died by strangulation), the result of insanity, temporary or otherwise?  Obviously there’s no generalizing, but the fact that the two cases in the news represented particularly successful people who had every reason to live and people to live for makes it all the more difficult to understand. Severe depression can be an almost ineffable juggernaut which crushes the spirit, but the average person finds it easier to understand an existential predicament, such as that of the cab driver who recently took his own life ("A Taxi Driver Took His Own Life. His Family Blames Uber’s Influence," NYT, 5/1/18). The 104 year old Australian scientist who journeyed to Switzerland to die also is a case that is on the surface more easy to absorb (“David Goodall, 104, Scientist Who Fought to Die on His Terms, Ends His Life,"NYT, 5/10/18). Still in all, whatever the motivation, the reasons for this pulling down the blind, turning off the switch or lowering the curtain is something which suicides take to their graves.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.