Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Are we hypocrites?

We’re all familiar with the rejoinder from critics of Antinatalism: if life is so bad, why don’t you kill yourself? Invariably, antinatalists will reply with the distinction made between lives worth starting and lives worth continuing and logically this reply is sound. I must admit, though, that lately I can intuitively sympathise with the criticism. After all, we as antinatalists are experts at outlining how horrible and awful everything is. We view life as a hellish quagmire into which we were dumped by our unthinking progenitors. Given those premises, it doesn’t strike me, therefore, as being entirely unreasonable to ask what we’re hanging around for.

Let’s put aside the difficulty of getting the hell out of here; we all know how fiendishly troublesome it is to get through the emergency exit. Let’s ask ourselves instead if we would stick around if we could just painlessly press an off-button built into our arms. And if not, why not? After all, we are always bitching about life, and saying what a crock of shit it fundamentally is. So isn’t there just an element of hypocrisy about us dragging our asses through this existence? After all, what we can possibly be living for? Generally, the answer proffered is that we have “interests” worth pursuing, but in plain language that just means we’re caught up on the hedonic treadmill like every other procreating sucker on the planet; we cling to the belief that we can squeeze a few drops of pleasure from the rotten apple, and that it is worthwhile to do so. Clearly this is where the criticism of the pronatalist brigade originates from: if we, as advocates of non-life, deem it worth our while to swallow buckets of shit in the hope of finding the odd cherry doesn’t this imply that in some way we value our existence? The obvious reply is that we are, as biological creatures, hopelessly addicted to the life game; our DNA overlord has programmed the ship to keep sailing until we crash into the rocks of fate. All of this is fair enough, and eminently true.

Yet I’ve been troubled lately. If we’re so adamantly against procreation, isn’t the only way we can absolutely guarantee we don’t add to the misery pile to remove ourselves from the scene altogether? Sure, we can always say that we have a duty to stick around to spread the word and in that way help alleviate suffering on the broader scale, but how many of us are really such saints? And of course, every living creature, whether pro or anti natalist, is fundamentally guilty, guilty of being a parasite off the misery of its fellow creatures who occupy a lower position in the food/status chain.

This isn’t, by the way, a personal “cry for help”. I’m not feeling suicidal, just somewhat bathed in the dark radiance of self-disgust. Ultimately, I’m saying let’s not be too self-congratulatory. If you’re alive, you’re playing the game, and by playing it, you’re helping to keep it on the road.


  1. A masterpiece.

    I agree with every word. I could just as easily have written those.

    I decided, since my response was getting quite long, to make it a blog post. But rest assured, I agree with you all the way.

    I want to see how polemic this will get =).

  2. Yet strangely, I've never heard the retort "if life is so bad, then why don't you go commit a mass murder," even though in many ways it's a more valid response. The same reasoning applies to a few points you made; suicide is generally an inefficient way of reducing the net amount of suffering in the world and thus should never really enter the discussion.

  3. Speaking for myself, my antinatalism is NOT predicated on the belief that life is always and fundamentally a "hellish quagmire" and that, ceteris paribus, there's no good reason to stick around; but just that we (generally) don't have the right to force that decision onto others.

    The reason I see a fundamental difference between coming and going is that the former is not a choice freely made by the individual most affected by it. Of course, I'm laying aside for the moment the issue of whether morally relevant free will exists at all, which is questionable if not incoherent.

    1. "Speaking for myself, my antinatalism is NOT predicated on the belief that life is always and fundamentally a "hellish quagmire" and that, ceteris paribus, there's no good reason to stick around; but just that we (generally) don't have the right to force that decision onto others."


      Although my life has mostly become a sustained, hellish quagmire, with a trend line toward worse decline.

      It wasn't always. It was joyful for extended periods. And I think others' periods of joy can definitely exceed what I had, although it was fantastic.

  4. zralytylen: I'm not sure why the retort of "why don't you go and commit a mass murder?" is a more valid reply. As for suicide being generally a more inefficient means of reducing suffering, that is ultimately unknowable and uncalculable.

  5. Karl,

    Spreading the word among other humans (if only a few) helps, very substantially. Producing a child bad not only because the child itself goes through a lot of shit and others need to go through a lot of shit to keep it upfloat, but also because the child can produce more children later.

    Schopenhauer discusses how a human's life can be exponentially worse than a "brute's" life can. And VHEMT makes it clear how a human at least damages/could damage the environment much more effectively than "brutes" can.

  6. deem it worth our while to swallow buckets of shit in the hope of finding the odd cherry
    Wow, Karl! What an apt analogy! You just put the whole thing so beautifully in words!

    I can't come up with such lines! Though I totally agree with them. =)

  7. The fact that I can't find the strength to kill myself is precisely the reason I don't consider myself a "real" antinatalist. If life really was as bad as I rationally believe it is, the small effort to go and hang myself and the pain I would have to endure before losing conscience and dying should appear ridiculous, but since I feel very anxious only by thinking about doing it tells me there is some sort of deep love for life that I have but can't seem to recognize.

    1. There are more humane yet actually more reliable methods that are realistically possible.

      Not that I'm saying that you should do this, but extensive research led me to this conclusion, and preparation if need be.

  8. Those anti-natalists who base their positions mostly on uncertainty and the lack of consent would seem to be more or less protected from the "go commit suicide" and "go kill people" arguments.

  9. Also, if you refrain from committing suicide because you think your being here is better than your not being here, why don't you sign up for cryonics?

  10. I don't think being a non-suicidal antinatalist is hypocritical at all - especially if our AN is based in suffering prevention.

    *Suicide causes trauma for friends and family.
    *Most suicide attempts fail. Many of them leave the attempter worse off than before (brain damage, physical disability, etc.)

    Both definitely violate the suffering prevention ethic (esp when you consider the 2nd one will force loved ones to take care of you when they could be doing more productive and enjoyable things). There are A FEW circumstances where I could find suicide morally legitimate, but merely because of garden-variety feelings of "the world sucks" is NOT one of them.

    As for the suckiness of life, the world, existence, whatever -- I said how we can make the most of life despite it all on my antinatalism blog.

    Philanthropic Antinatalism Must Stand for Positives, Not Negatives

    1. ADDED: There are lots more reasons than this post suggests. It's long, but the bottom line is that the suicide argument would open up a whole ethical can of worms in other areas - even issues not even remotely related to antinatalism.

      My updated suicide (part 1) goes in depth about this.

  11. Thanks for the comments thusfar, y'all.

    Shadow: Cheers as always, man. Looking forward to reading the new blog post!

    Srikant: Thanks for the compliment. Agree about the importance of spreading the word.

    Todd and James: I think you've both hit the nail on the head. In my opinion, antinatalism as a movement is better off predicating itself on issues of risk and consent. If it focues on the 'life sucks' element too much, it can get bogged down. And also, ultimately, whether a life goes well or badly is a matter for the person living it, and is subject to so many variable factors that the "all lives are crap" idea runs into trouble quite quickly.

    Anonymous: Yeah, if you're still here, you have to concede that there's something keeping you here in spite of all. I admire your honesty.

    Tim: An excellent observation. If someone deems it worthwhile at any given point in their life to hang around, there doesn't seem to be too many arguments as to why they shouldn't take a punt on such moments arising at future points along the time scale.

  12. Filrabat, thanks for the comment. I still wouldn't condemn anyone's decision to end their lives, for whatever reason they may have. If the pain becomes too much, it becomes too much and people are trapped with only one way out.

    It did occur to me that the only optimal suicide situation would be for all 7 billion+ humanoids to commit suicide at exactly the same moment. That way, all human suffering ceases at the same point, no one is left behind to mourn and so on. Pure sci-fi, of course.

  13. What I meant by simply committing suicide being unethical is a cold-emotioned, conscious, deliberate decision as in thinking the following with all the emotional content of a smoothly running pendulum clock:

    1. If I think the world sucks, then I will commit suicide.
    2. I think the world sucks.
    3. Therefore, I will commit suicide. End of Story.

    People suffering from severe depression is another matter. I certainly don't condemn a severely depressed person for committing suicide, even if family and friends are traumatized by it. In this case, the severely depressed person is suffering in agonizing pain; whereas in my example and my previous comment, I intended to convey a "Vulcan" spirit of mind.

    Still, I definitely agree that if you suspect or know a person who is seriously depressed, then you should get them medication, and (my own suggestion, not an iron-clad demand - what helped for me) Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

    The point is that if it's reasonably possible to mitigate it, we should do so (AN is not about killing presently existing life, just preventing new life).

    Still, I do support suicide in the event of a terminal illness or obvious severe mental condition - but even here, this shouldn't be simply rushed into. Should be talked about with family. Even then, IMO, it should take place only when you are still just barely able to control your own destiny (or perhaps sooner if your family accepts your very-shortly-anyway demise).

    1. I am not responsible for the happiness of others. The biggest calamity was brought upon me, and now they expect me to stay here for them or to keep their relative comfort as they are going through the motions of this zero-sum game? What sort of right do they have to bring me here and then force me to stay here? So not only is it a prison then, its a maximum-security prison as well?!

      Sorry it makes no sense to me.

      Suicide is the most rational response to an irrational existence with irrational people who wish for you to perpetuate it. And no, I don't need to have a terminal illness or mental condition. All I need is what I have - solid philosophical grounds for despising becoming conscious and not wanting to continue this ridiculous game and everyone who insists on anything otherwise is just a part of that irrational game anyways, so why should I even bother looking at their direction?

      If I consider my suffering much bigger than any suffering anyone could experience after I leave this existence, why bother even caring?

      Especially if they will continue their irrational game and will cry for me for the same reasons that I hated this game to begin with and decided to leave it - because they're futile desire/need machines and they brought me to existence for that reason and now they're also crying when I want to leave for that same reason? Because they're attached to me? You wouldn't be if you never brought me here! YOUR own god damn fault!

      With all due respect, FUCK that.

      I utterly reject any anti-suicide rants because there really is no good reason why one shouldn't do it just as there are no good reasons to procreate

    2. Totally agree, Dimasok. Ultimately, any reasons adduced for not committing suicide are negative ones: fear of causing harm, fear of pain, fear of nothingness, ultimately fear, fear, fear.

      I think the fact that generally only the most arrogant, macho, egotistical pricks ever outrightly condemn suicide is a sign that everyone knows, deep down, that this life is a torturous racket that has no justification and that no one can be condemned for bailing out.

  14. When an Inuit wants to kill himself, he has to ask his family three times. The first two times he asks, his family will do everything they can to talk him out of it and convince him it's not a good idea. If he asks a third time, they have to let him do it and assist him if possible.

    Always thought that was a good system.

  15. I´m only skimming on comments and I don´t want to sound too negative here, but I couldn´t care less of what my suicide would afect on other people.

    The only thing preventing me to do it is a lot of bullshit inside my own brain regarding my own suffering - fears and etc. Other than that, if I took some drug that could make that disappear by a longshot - or something, I´d take my life in a instant.

    of course, I would try not to leave a mess, because its not nice =).

  16. Filrabat: Not entirely sure why the "Vulcan" suicide merits moral condemnation. Presumably, the discovering of life's awfulness generates pain of an emotional and mental variety, hence the desire for non-existence. The "Vulcan" may also decide to terminate its existence in the hope of preventing future meaningless suffering. It seems that you're employing an unspecified pain threshold for your moral judgements. At what moment does a calm Vulcan become a depressed person? When does a depressed person become "severely depressed"? Why should there be a pain threshold employed at all?

    Shadow: Admire your honesty. Further proof of the trap that life is being furnished by how our dread of harming others helps hold us hostage and extenuates our own suffering.

  17. HOLD ON!
    Your honorable Karl,


    There is no denying it; in the following sense, I am a hypocrit: I passively collaborate in the sowing of suffering and the reaping of welfare that I decry. I denounce, but won't renounce.
    My welbeing first and the rest after - that is the animal this tongue is mounting.

    I'm not a good guy, especially not deep down. So, what moral high ground dare this antinatalist still claim upon the natalists? Nothing to be proud of, for sure: the example I live, merely is ...

    ... a lesser of evils.

    Now, I throw myself upon mercy, again and again, for I take it for granted. After all, this misery likes its company.
    ... which is why I will drag down with me whomever I can:

    those who promote 'consent' for a doorstep, are just as culpable under their own moral jurisdiction, for the prosperity of the First-Worlders never solicits the consent of the Third-Worlders about their saccrificial contribution.

    That said,
    antinatalists are about LIMITING the harm they generate to very finite amounts, keeping it to 'necessary evils' for one lifetime, in opposition to the 'gratuitous violence' of kick-starting virtually unlimited cascades of suffering for a couple of persons' amusement.

    Being a hypocrit is one (bad) thing,
    but trying to multiply hypocrisy is cancerous malignance.

    Allow me to thank you for authoring this outstanding incitation to introspection, Karl.

  18. Karl, my good friend, have you ever tried to kill yourself? Not an easy thing, i can tell you. Isn't is odd that people who are suicidal, trully sucidal, are doped with god knows hoe many chemicals that keep hteir disfunctional brains asleep? Like it or not, WE have a magnificent survival instinct, the same mechanism that is in charge of fight-or-flight responses is the same one in charge of self preservation...We are smart enough to realize life isn't worth it, but our survival instincts are good enough to bypass any easy form of self extermination.

    And this is not a cheap answer, it is the plain truth. I have THREE suicide attempts under my belt, and I could not do it in the end, not because I am afraid of Death, but because I JUST COULD NOT DO IT.

  19. Bazompora, thanks for the comment. Wonderful honesty and self-analysis. I can only agree with everything you say. One of the things that prompted this post was my noticing that I am surrounded in day-to-day life (and online) by so many people who are just so full of themselves, oozing and overflowing with self-love, self-regard and self-importance. And then I realise that I too must share something of this seeing as how I am present with them in this life. If you're in it, you're not above it.

    I agree with Filrabat that the promotion of Antinatalism is best served by focusing on the philanthropic variety, but to be perfectly honest, the misanthropic motivations are equally, if not in fact, as strong in me. Even Benatar, the cool and calm voice of reason, outlines the perfectly sound misanthropic reasons for antinatalism at the conclusion of his masterpiece.

    Anonymous: Thank you too for your honesty and integrity. You have my total admiration. One of the other topics on my mind that prompted my latest outpouring was the nobility of suicide. I wonder if I'll ever get to the stage of feeling guilty for not (yet) having tried it. Cioran talks about this sporadically throughout his ouevre: the indignity of remaining alive knowing all that all one does.

    One of my favourite ever thinkers and human beings sums it up beautifully:

    "A man of finer feelings would have taken leave of the world before ever sampling its falsehood, double-dealing, luxury and pride; but now that all these have been tasted to satiety, the next best course would be to end your life forthwith. Or are you really resolved to go on dwelling in the midst of iniquity, and has experience not yet persuaded you to flee from the pestilence?"

    Meditations 9.2

    At least, Anonymous, you have the dignity of knowing you cannot stand accused thus.

  20. The quotation is from the inimitable Marcus Aurelius. Apologies.

  21. Fair question, Karl. I'm not sure I agree with you that people who are addicted can be fairly called hypocrites, though.

  22. Good point, CM; but if we have come as far as to admit our addiction, should then not follow that we seek to combate our addiction?

    When getting to my previous comment, my first impulse was to reply that we don't really have the choice of taking our foot off the welfare of the dupes.
    But then OCD kicked in and went "o rly?" and I came to realise I was being tempted by a sense of self-preservation, to omit my responsability here:
    yes, overriding the survival instinct is something I could not even approach beyound contemplation; but failing that, I STILL have the option of abdicating my fraudulent comfort and go live among the poor, instead of continuing to live off the poor. So, even though I have a choice to find a way and ween off my material addictions (mother Theresa was a human too, wasn't she), it is an option I simply DON'T WANT.

    To me personally, there are two important 'ethical' reasons for professing antinatalism:
    • to prevent more people like me from suffering.
    • to prevent people from suffering even more likes of me.

  23. Agree again, Bazompora. We live in a world where 20,000 people die every die from starvation. Countless more are the victims of murder, violence, fraud, robbery, war and so on. Yet most of us, myself most definitely included, fret more over our hairline/ waistline/ bank balance/ private misery etc. Definitely not a situation for anyone, anti or pro natalist, to be proud of.

  24. I now see my comment (Also, if you refrain from committing suicide because you think your being here is better than your not being here, why don't you sign up for cryonics?) was ambiguous. It was actually aimed at antinatalists who hope to make a positive difference in the world. If this is your principal reason for not committing suicide, you should see value in pursuing immortality. But, you know, honestly... I think most of us have no interest in immortality, to put it mildly.

    Many rationalizations can be made for why we don't need to pursue immortality, but rationalizations they are. It's the inattractiveness of immortality (to people like us) that makes us draw the conclusion that we have no need for it or that we should avoid it. Considerations like money, availability, reliability, etc., come second, after the conclusion has already been drawn. At least that's how it feels for me.

  25. Dear KARL:

    Excellent text "Are we hypocrites?". I enjoyed it greatly. I congratulate you for your honesty and clarity. I also congratulate myself for recently finding your site and the profound and interesting antinatalist materials you have here.

    I wish to could have more time to translate this and other of your materials to my Spanish language "voluntary human extinctionists group", and in general share them with other potential antinatalist who otherwise could merely stumble on the unreviewed fashion of unthinkingly procreating, just like any rabbit, cockroach or yeast.

    By the way, my favourite quote (which I copied from other person) is: "Are humans smarter than yeast?"
    (of course the answer is no, we are not smarter.... Well, some rare exceptions are the antinatalist folks).

    One thing that you did not mention, when speaking about "the emergency exit" and the difficulty or risk of using it, is that we humans, genetically (according to E. O. Willson, and I am convinced of it) we are Eusocial animals, so we feel pain or even are incapable of causing deliberate harm to society and particularly to those we personally know or to our relatives which will feel deep pain and sorrow in case we attempt the "emergency exit".

    <:{{{{{{><  <:))))))><  <:{{{{{{><  <:))))))>< <:{{{{{{><

  26. NYY Center Fielder1 January 2012 at 23:36

    Karl, you bring up several good points that deserve consideration and examination. The complexities that muck up the simplistic black and white view that "life is bad and not worth living" must be dissected if we are to accept the suggestion that antinatalists who continue to live are hypocrites.

    It is impossible to ignore "the difficulty of getting the hell out of here," because many of the forces keeping us here revolve around an almost unspoken expectation of selfless altruism. Even if one is suffering, it is expected that person will continue to suffer on behalf of others who would suffer even more if the sufferer were to put a bullet in his or her own head.

    There are also situations in which someone can inadvertently or intentionally obligate oneself to care for another, such as with pet adoption. So one's reason for failing to even consider suicide may have nothing to do with the selfish desire to "squeeze a few drops of pleasure from the rotten apple," (which is a metaphor I absolutely love) and everything to do with the selflessness of continuing to suffer empathetically in order to dramatically reduce (and almost eliminate entirely) the suffering of another who also never asked to be born into this living hell.

    As a vegan with a small family of rescued pets, I know that I'm robbing Peter to pay Paul. The vegetables I eat and those I feed to my pets are harvested in a way that harms other animals who are not directly under my care. The only solutions to this insidious problem are (1) murder-suicide in which I'd have to kill my pets and then myself so that we'd all stop consuming the tainted vegetables, or (2) growing my own crops and going completely off the societal grid.

    For completely selfish reasons, neither of these options is appealing to me. Yet is it for completely altruistic reasons that I refrain from killing myself. I'm unconvinced that the paradoxical dichotomy of these seemingly contradictory positions makes me a hypocrite. The issues are way too complex to be simplified into black and white.

    Again, I refer back to "the difficulty of getting the hell out of here." Another aspect of why suicide is so difficult is that we are biologically hard-wired against it. That has nothing to do with service to others, nor is it related to any conscious desire to garner any kind of pleasure from being alive. It is the reason so many suicides fail; on a subconscious or unconscious level, most people who attempt suicide don't really want to die! Again, the complexities of the situation prevent any valid oversimplification of the issues into black or white, good or bad, life or death. We may very well be hypocrites, but it's going to take a lot more than four medium-sized paragraphs to convince me of that.

  27. Eco-h2O: Thanks for the comment and glad you're enjoying the blog!

    NYY Center Fielder: I totally admire your rescuing of those animals and wish you well in that honourable endeavour. As for "We may very well be hypocrites, but it's going to take a lot more than four medium-sized paragraphs to convince me of that", please bear in mind that the title of the entry ended in a question mark. My aim was to tease the issue out in an honest fashion. Whether ANs are hypocrites are not will always be an open question.

    Thanks for dropping by!

  28. I've answered this popular argument on my blog (should be linked from my name here)
    I do think if suicide was as easy as pressing a button we'd be seeing so much more of it.

    For the most part people will use all sorts of rationalizations to explain why they continue living when they actually would have preferred to die.

    Deciding to stay alive does not mean enjoying life. It would have, had there been no such thing as a fear of death.

    Usually the truth is - we are just afraid. We can't control it, the fear is crippling and irrational. But thats not our fault that we're wired this way. The pressure has to build up sooo high to overpower our fear of death.
    Antinatalists do not owe the world an apology that their lives haven't gotten as shitty as needed yet, that their boredom and apathy haven't reached that absolutely unbearable level.

    'Sorry for not being thrilled with life but not being suicidal either' - is that what they're wanting to hear when they accuse us of hypocrisy?

  29. "If you’re alive, you’re playing the game, and by playing it, you’re helping to keep it on the road."
    Well, if you reproduce u're helping, but otherwise I don't think you're playing the game. Rather you're being held hostage with ur only exit being thru the window of the mountain house.
    How would your suicide help stop the game and prevent more suffering? U'll just be replaced with a bunch of newborns, thats all.

    I personally try to limit the amount of harm I cause to living beings by sacrificing some of my pleasures in order to not add more pain. But I am a sentient being, too, and there is no reason why I shouldn't care at all about my own well-being. I think the key is to accept ourselves for the beasts that we are, try our best to cause as little harm as possible, and argue for our voluntary extinction. What I'm saying is I acknowledge the harm my existence imposes on animals, but it wasn't my decision to come here and I want to ask people to stop putting more of us in the position where we have to choose between our own interests and those of other sentient beings.

    I don't think the argument of suicide has any leg to stand on.
    Its like saying to a labour camp prisoner "if ur life is so miserable, why don't u kill urself"? Some may hope their lives will get better, others may just plainly be afraid to off themselves. But that has no bearing on the fact that neither of them should have been put in the position in the first place. It does not negate the fact that locking people in a labour camp is harming them, even if they choose to keep dragging their miserable existence. The prisoners are still justified in saying "i wish i was never sent to a labour camp" even if they're not using the only way out they have..

  30. Hi, Irina. Thanks for the comments! I think what motivated me to write this blog entry was that at that time I noticed a lot of arrogance creeping into some of the antinatal blogs: people congratulating themselves for being clever and generally regarding themselves as being superior to non antinatalists. I was aware that I was guilty of this as well, so I wanted to try and poin out that we should show more humiltiy and acknowledge that we're all selfish in our own way. Obviously there are degrees of it, but it's important not to forget that no one's perfect.

    Very eise words in your last paragraph and I love the 'Sorry for not being thrilled with life but not being suicidal either' line:-)

    1. Absolutely! Humility and acknowledgement of our own imperfections is important. When arrogance flows over the top its not good. I think its important for everyone to sometimes stop and wonder how true they are in what they're saying/doing, examine their own motives and not only be finding faults in others.

  31. Very wise words, that should read.

  32. I agree with everything you wrote Karl. I don't know why I stick around... there is nothing left for me, no interests, needs or desires... no motivation to exist and participate in this hellish game. Hell, i don't even want to spread the word because humanity is just callous and retarded and will never get it. And even if they will, unless ALL sentience stops, what have we really achieved? Not much...

    I wish I could blow a hole through my brain and really there is no excuse for why I am still here.. none whatsoever.. wasted breaths that do nothing but provide opportunities for life to throw more curveballs at me and pump more pain into me.

    Really.. why not kill ourselves? I agree that its the best solution after all

  33. "It is good to be a cynic - it is better to be a contented cat — and it is best not to exist at all. Universal suicide is the most logical thing in the world — we reject it only because of our primitive cowardice and childish fear of the dark. If we were sensible we would seek death — the same blissful blank which we enjoyed before we existed."

    H.P. Lovecraft

  34. Some really thought-provoking posts here.

    As others have already indicated here, the big problem with suicide is that, even if the mind desires it, the body is always frantically trying to preserve itself. A quick search on google about suicide rates per year in the U.S. brought up this interesting statistic:

    "Do most people who attempt suicide actually die by suicide?"

    "No. It is estimated that 1 person out of 25 who attempt suicide die by suicide."

    I don't know if that's true . . . but those aren't very good odds! I think if it were as easy as pushing a button, people all over the world would be killing themselves in droves. Also, I'm sure a lot of these failed attempts result in other horrible things happening to your body - now you're not only stuck living, maybe one of your internal organs or something is damaged too! Basically, I've come to the conclusion that the safest way to get the hell out of here is to just let Nature kill you . . . and pray that the end is not too agonizing . . .

    By the way, I tip my hat to your intellectual honesty and humility. Always a pleasure to read your blog.

    And - which book is that awesome Lovecraft quote from?

    1. Thanks for the nice words, Anonymous! I agree that you're best off having to avoid the horror of suicide if you can help it. The anguish of it all is too much.

      That quotation is from the essay 'Nietzsche and Materialism' if memory serves. Will doublecheck it.

  35. In Ann Sterzinger's NSVQVAM, one of the chapters starts with the following quote from a certain Jay-Jay Johansen:

    "What if the rope will break
    and if the knife's too blunt
    and what if the roof's not high enough
    and where do I get a gun?
    What if the pool's too shallow
    and if the pills too few?
    And what if the train's already passed
    and off the gas I puke?
    I might as well continue . . ."

    1. Ah, it's true! Thanks for linking that. Not mere shades, they're almost identical :-)

  36. I "attempted" suicide once--I had the note and a pocket knife with which I was going to cut my wrist. (It's a REALLY good thing I didn't try to go through with it, as I was going to cut the vein straight across, which wouldn't have worked.) In the end I just couldn't do it. I felt too much loyalty to certain people, and the survival mechanism was just too strong.

    Anyway, we shouldn't have to feel guilty for sticking around...that's just more intellectual blackmail. Isn't it bad enough that we're blackmailed into thinking life is super cool? Now we have to kill ourselves, too? The whole point is moot anyway, for as Cioran says, "No one chooses who they are or even what they do." We live in a deterministic universe, so it's inane to deride people for being too "cowardly" to do the deed and such.

    At the same time, I would never look down on someone on who exits this life voluntarily. Depression is not a sign of weakness, generally; it's a sign of knowing too much, of understanding life too well.

  37. Sweet Poetry O Pus31 May 2015 at 09:33

    I think it's pretty unreasonable to infer insincerity, as pro-lifers do, from the fact that I choose to go on living, if "choose" can be said to be the right word here.

    I wish I had never have been born, but now that I am here, all I know is that it is damned difficult to leave, especially when you have limited access to the most effective and painless methods for disposing of oneself, and when psychiatrists and doctors stand sentinel-like at life's exit-gate.

    Only by trivializing the external and internal restraints that stay the potential felo-de-se's hand can such an argument be put forward with confidence.

    As someone has already alluded to, successfully killing yourself is just about the hardest thing you can do. Every fibre of our being revolts against it.

    Schopenhauer postulated in his work the existence of some fundamental essence that constitutes the innermost kernel of our being, that wills life irrespective of the knowledge we accumulate showing it to be something not worth the energy and time invested in it. He called this the Will, a kind of antecedent expression of the subconscious, mutatis mutandis.

    This attachment to life exists a priori, and is not severed by the accumulation of knowledge. The mind comprehends what the Will does not.

    Veritas liberabit vos. The truth shall set you free. If only this were true! One can learn that life is horrendous, that we are at the mercy of this impersonal force that keeps us striving, but that doesn't mean you are, in consequence of this, set free from it. The identification of truth with liberty clearly doesn't withstand scrutiny.

    One might, for example, be able to strip away love's many layers of pretension, but love, like all desire, is a force majeure, against which reason is powerless. The head comprehends what the heart doesn't.

    Man is at the mercy of this blind, impersonal force which can only be overcome in exceptional circumstances or with abnormal courage.

    Whilst intellectually a man may not value life, his nature nevertheless yokes him thereto, and erects so many obstacles between himself and the death some part of his being longs for, that rarely does he manage to achieve his goal.

    Another way of looking at it, without resorting to some fundamental essence, is that our hopes and desires attach us to life. They, like the bonds we form with others, are the connective tissue that attach us to life. Death retains its grisly visage for most people not just because of its sinister apparel, its grim iconography, or because of the stress the human mind lays on all its surrounding details, such as the pain associated therewith; no, but because it signifies the cessation of our hopes and desires.

    We may understand that Hope and Desire make promises they never make good on, but that does not free us from their baneful tyranny. Anyone who says otherwise, I would say, is deluding himself.

    As well as this, the body recoils from the infliction of pain, yet access to non-painful methods of suicide are extremely difficult, to say the least.

    Time permits me to go no further, but there are many other reasons why I find it unreasonable to expect people to just top themselves, as pro-lifers and optimists do, which I will perhaps do some other time, because this has really been exercising my thoughts of late.