a happy death

by Arran James

And when a morbid affection of the nerves, or a derangement of the digestive organs, plays into the hands of an innate tendency to gloom, this tendency may reach such a height that permanent discomfort produces a weariness of life. So arises an inclination to suicide, which even the most trivial unpleasantness may actually bring about; nay, when the tendency attains its worst form, it may be occasioned by nothing in particular, but a man may resolve to put an end to his existence, simply because he is permanently unhappy, and then coolly and firmly carry out his determination; as may be seen by the way in which the sufferer, when placed under supervision, as he usually is, eagerly waits to seize the first unguarded moment, when, without a shudder, without a struggle or recoil, he may use the now natural and welcome means of effecting his release.


In talking about a life, a distinctly human life, we are always neglecting the other side; death. In particular we neglect suicide, the fatal freedom [Szasz, 1999] by which man can resolve to murder himself and so to escape the burden of living. Of course, here Schopenhauer equates suicide with the will to release, to effect escape from materiality and its sufferings, as do most who write on the subject. No one considers in suicide an affirmation except of some absolute affirmation of man’s final freedom. What if suicide where the affirmation of life, its wildest yearnings? Is it possible to imagine a suicide who is motivated not by unhappiness but by happiness, or whatever shadow of it is possible for conscious beings? Could we imagine some addict of life who knows that finally the moment of stauration has come- no matter how many hits he gets the come-down will always be that bit worse than the high, last that much longer, cause him that much more anxiety, fear, panic?

It’s not at all that she would be motivated out of a desire to avoid the come-down but simply that this moment, this crystalline moment, is the distillation of a joy that is so frequently promised and so rarely known. At this highpoint she might conclude that it is time to withdraw her investment, to pull back from the edge of things, and driven only by the calm ecstasy of a true satisfaction decide that this much is enough and no more is necessary. It is better to die now, a smile on her face and a perfect nostalgia completely without sentimentality or distortion.

Sat on this bed, the offensive orange bedspread glaring a too bright light at my face, militant hiphop vaguely harassing my passivity, the possibility of going out for drinks, I’m thinking about not thinking. Neither wanting to go out or stay in. Out there, maybe the chance of women. Despite having met so many, I can’t imagine Schopenhauer’s suicidal. Likewise, I can’t imagine the shape of the happiness that could breed a blissful death.

Interminable things. Systems of fragility. A density of sensation. The reduction of complexity: yes/no. Live/die. I find myself somewhere uncharted in between. The correlationist senses his exclusion from the world, that split of subject and object. I can’t sense anything so dramatic. I am a quiet thing stirring in the cotton, the leaves, the concrete and the plastic tundras, threatening to ineffectively explode in pathetic insurrection.

Everything strikes me as profoundly unlikely, profoundly unnecessary.