Being different always results in spending more energy. Sara Ahmed explains this well in her “Living a Feminist Life”. Either you spend energy to ‘pass’ despite your difference, or you assert your difference and spend energy in explaining why you don’t just try to pass. Difference is an exhausting if inexhaustible way of getting into Catch-22 situations. What do you do when you can do no more and not doing anything is simply not an option? Not doing anything, for those who need reminding, is not an option because you are different and being different isn’t something you can shake off. It’s not peripheral to who you are. It is (an integral part of) who you are.
In matters of end of life one is often counseled to be patient or one becomes a patient. A Catch-22 in its own right. Either, so you are told, you are just exhausted and need to give yourself a rest or you are deemed too exhausted to give it a rest such that others need to intervene on your behalf. in the first case you are not really you. In the second case you are not a real you at all. But what if, with Ahmed, we neither want to be patient nor want to be a patient? Not being you, for those who need reminding, just isn’t an option as you are different. It being exhausting is not something you can shake off. It is not peripheral. You’d rather be dead then deny that you are (a) you.
It is not that long ago I had a passionate death wish. People tell me it is a sign of ill health. I disagree. People focus too much on the ‘death’ part to the point of not noticing the ‘wish’ part. I wish everybody would wish something passionately. It is a sign of being alive.
Wishing is something you do alone (wish, don’t tell) but it is also for something you can’t do alone (I wish you would see that). It takes a brain but not a brain taken in isolation. So as long as a brain is not reduced to its neurons there are signs of intelligent life.
Death and life then are like anything interesting: a duality (intimately related, seemingly opposed). What value would life have without something external to it worth to die for? Seeing them as a dichotomy deadens life. Seeing them as aligned enlivens death.
Both options – capitalism and fascism respectively (think about it!) – are not to be wished for. It’s as if you want to fit a rubber band around a sphere. Either it snaps to the right or to the left. The end result is the same: no tension. Therefore: neither life nor death.
This is life. This is what we live. We can’t keep the rubber band in place without another – without one another. If we are brains, which most certainly we are, we are always also a brain without neurons. We can wish death as long as it means more life for others.
Heidegger says: “Already the ‘thinking of death’ is publicly considered as the cowards fear.”
I die a thousand deaths each and every day.
They creep up on me like shivers up my crooked spine.
Make me catch my breath into my chronically shrunken lungs.
Slowly swell my prostate as if I was hit – hard – in the fucking groin.
Makes my mind spin into feeling (oh so!) special.
At the end of a life I feel like I am on top of the world,
before it all comes a-crushing crashing down. I melt – down –
to being dead inside. Life springs from that, I mean: for now at least.
‘Bummer!’ being booming business nowadays, I just go for “Mens insana in Corpore non sano.” Is it so strange to want death or is it just a part of life I happen to know better than most? The idea that dying is a once-in-a-lifetime thing at the end of life is entirely strange to me. Which makes me strange but maybe not a stranger to you.
Permit me an accusation in the form of a confession.
I (knocks): Hey, Death, you there?
Dr. Death: Yeah, who there?
DrD: Ah, you again. What now?
I: Well I wanted to talk some about this notion of self-preservation. People seem to think it crucial stuff.
DrD: Philosophers you mean? My experience is people rarely think at all, maybe I just get them when they’re all thought out.
I: Yeah, well, philosophers I suppose. But don’t they supposedly voice what people think?
DrD: They suppose that they think like other people think. My experience falsifies that.
I: Ah, O-kay, I see. so maybe self-preservation is not such a common thought after all? Continue reading