Some Thoughts On Suicide As Culture

I have some personal issues with grief spectacle social media content, as I find it crass, tasteless, generally inauthentic and quite often disrespectful to the individual who died, as it largely surmounts to transforming their death into marketable social capital for people to showcase their grief so as to collect likes and re-tweets. And recently someone who was part of the creation of music that helped shape my musical aesthetics and ultimately my own music, to some degree, died by committing suicide – Chester Bennington from Linking Park.

Linkin Park were a band that I, like many of my peers, loved throughout my childhood. Amidst struggles in my family and personal life, identity crisis’s, school life dramas and also just the horrifying situation of being a teenager going through puberty within the nightmare that is 21st century neoliberal advanced capitalist globalist civilisation, Chester’s voice and Linkin Park’s music provided resonance for my angst, despair and sense of ruin. Their music was one of my go to choices when I’d spend hours in my bedroom just playing music and singing to the posters that covered every inch of my bedroom walls that was drawn on by myself and my friends.

So when I learnt he had died I felt a sense of personal loss, though I didn’t showcase this through my social media and basically only spoke about it to my wife briefly.

I’ve thought about suicide a great deal during my life, from about the age of 13, and initially tried to find hope in the religious narratives presented to me by my family. Then during my mid/late teens I started to take an interest in existentialist philosophers and their thoughts on the subject, as I started to lose my faith in those narratives presented to me by my family. Then, after the horror of cancer treatment finished, I basically lost any faith in those faith based and optimistic narratives, in a way that language could never challenge this embodied, qualitative, subjective, entirely immediate knowledge of death and my self that undergoing cancer treatment had left me with.

Existential despair found itself at the forefront of my thoughts, I started rereading many of the existentialist texts I’d already read and others I hadn’t, became very passionate about music for a time, as a way of creating meaning for myself through art, explored many other philosophies, both in and out of the academy, and basically found myself along the route who’s cartography lead me to the ideas I present in Feral Consciousness and where I am now.

One of the philosophers who I’ve found most resonance with their ideas is Albert Camus, who’s absurdist philosophy regarding life and reasoning echoed the embodied knowledge cancer and brought me. On one sense I love Camus’s absurdism, because I love the idea that it is all absurd, in the sense of everything being an ontological-joke, a metaphysical-game, where we all try to win, have fun playing, but ultimately fail in the end – like an existential Tetris or Jenga. Another reason I love Camus’s words, in works like The Myth of Sisyphus, is because of his un-relenting defiance against the Nihilism of suicide, in the Nietzschean sense of nihilism as renouncing life.

Camus claimed that suicide was widespread within his time – in the sense I write about within Feral Consciousness, existential-suicide is widespread within any civilisation and is one of the defining features of civilisation. And it seems that, as civilisation accelerates further into history and the-end-of-history, it is undeniable that suicide is a defining feature of contemporary-civilisation’s social-ontology.

Here in the UK suicide is being called a “national crisis“, due to the sheer number of people committing suicide – with the way records are kept making it easy for officials to distort the situation. 5 students at Bristol University have committed suicide in the past year And is not the act of suiciding bombing, in the name of a civilisation’s onto-theology, in the way that groups like ISIS do – or even in the way they soldiers do, as sacrifices for their nations – not just the paramount of civilised behaviour, when civilisation offers only an existence of passive assimilation into the machinic production-narratives of industry and agriculture?

M.D. Alex Lickerman argues that there are 6 reasons someone commits suicide – depression, psychosis, impulse, cry for help, philosophical desire and due to making a mistake. This resonates with many of arguments I present in Feral Consciousness, as I argue that civilisation is an existential renunciation of life – suicide – that manifests as a cultural psychosis, actively attacking life at every opportunity. And with the defining feature of civilisation’s production-narratives being ecocide, Dr Marc Bekoff’s arguments stating that ecocide is suicide fit this description.

But really, as we witness the destruction of the biosphere that our ability to live is dependant upon, do we really need any academic reasons to say this culture is actively one of suicide?

In Feral Consciousness I present arguments for abandoning socially constructed notions of the self, in embrace of a notion of the self as an aspect of the multiplicity of Being, in transience and immersed within the Real of the wild, and in the book I’m working on I am expanding upon this and developing a collection of new ideas and concepts for eco-radical and anarchist thought. All of these arguments though surmount to existential revolt against suicidal cultural narratives of civilisation/ecocide at their core.

One of the writers/philosophers who’s works I’m exploring as research for the next book is E.M. Cioran, as I encounter his existential-nihilist thoughts more and more through nihilist-anarchist thought and social media content. I’m not going to deny that I find much of Cioran’s pessimism ugly and crass, with his anti-natalist rejection of life surmounting to a hedonistic moralism I wrote about in The value in pain as valuing being-alive (which was my undergrad dissertation for the philosophy section of my degree). But despite his vulgar moralism, there is a great deal of beauty within much of what I’m encountering within Cioran’s thought – particularly in statements like “Only optimists commit suicide, optimists who no longer succeed at being optimists. The others, having no reason to live, why would they have any to die?”. So I am continuing to explore his arguments/depictions/cartographies.

The idea that only optimists have reason to commit suicide resonates with many of my thoughts on ecology, politics and culture. Progressives and technoutopian green optimists are steering this culture further towards the future, into history and the end-of-history – the end of civilisation and the collapse of the biosphere. Eco-pessimists, pessimists of strength, life embracing absurdists, we have a reason to live and to celebrate life.

It is a truly sad thing that this culture is directing, through its mechanic production-narratives and assimilation into the body of the technosphere, so many to committing suicide, be it students, soldiers, ISIS members or nu metal singers. It is truly sad that this culture is enacting an active narrative of suicide through it’s production narratives.

Right here, right now, I don’t feel like saying any more on this.

I’m gonna keep dancing upon the body of the earth. I’m gonna defend what I love through these dances. I’m gonna keep writing and attempt to reach people through the medium of text – though perhaps this is an absurd attempt (actually it certainly is), perhaps people really need to feel embodied existential dread to find resonance with life and the living world (I’m pretty sure they do): one of the reasons why I argue for poetic terrorism in Cultural Terrorism: Poetic Potential for Subversion.

Ok, one last word on suicide – fuck that, I love life.

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