Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Original Suicide: An Ode to Mortality

'Why hast thou forsaken me?' And as we walk out into the light, the heat of the day, the glaring Black Sun of Reality - an artificially-created, maintained, and official-sanctioned reality, the breathing air of this world - the last words of the Original Suicide - that Poet, that Prince of Avatars, that man of action, reaction, politics, philosophy, of all human endeavor, the Lamb, the tender son, the Light and the Life, the walking dead, the raiser of Lazarus, the healer of the blind, the benefactor of the Holy Grail, used to catch his body's water, the summit of skull-crowned Golgotha, the usurper of Aceldama where Judas's blood floods the sands - echo through the dim, shadowed chambers of our consciousnesses: 'As I tear my own flesh, as I release my own blood, as I remove my own eyes (ex infernus, truly, out of hell), my will is strong, my will becomes free, I choose this action, I choose this death, I have chosen my fortune and fate. In my own death I consecrate my first truly original and independent act.' Oh, to think of all the different meanings of the word 'original' and all the connotations of the word 'origin'. It brings on the Vertigo. Yes, but was the man truly a prophet? Are his actions to be followed, his words to be repeated? Or had the God inside already corrupted his mind, spreading madness, sowing darkness behind his eyes? Was the Divine inside too much for the Human outside to bear? Do we take the Nazarene's doubts for our own? Do we think we can understand them? Are they just another test of our faith? Can a God doubt himself, even when clothed in flesh? Or are his doubts the defining statement of despair: that man, even when half-God, half-Eternity, can never understand his own nature? That he can not escape his own mortality, or even attempt to realize its power? Can we face the fact that even God weeps for his own creation - that he was in fact vanquished by the First Darkness because he was born out of it?

Or on the cross was the Nazarene still surrounded by spiritual ignorance - and is he still? - dwelling in it, the backwater of the Jews and their messianic confusion, wallowing in the muck of indigence, of starvation and grim thirst, of the burning hatred of slaves for their masters, the resignation that gilds the soul and places a penny in the mouths of the still-living, weighing the spirit as if with lead so that it sinks faster through Acheron, clutched at by the weeping and wailing dead? 'How to escape this life?' - that is his cry. The Nazarene could not escape his barren time even as he was filled with the out-of-time, the eternal: his was the state of irreparable insolvency, of overripe cautiousness ('What if I am not God?'), of waiting-for-tomorrow, of decisions not able to be made, of fortunes just out of sight, of fates that slipped by while he was sleeping. What truly happened that night in the Garden? Did the Nazarene feel his humanity draw out like a serpent? But enough with this figure.

'Do not judge a man's fortune until he is dead' said Solon, or some other worthy, ruminating on the transcendent/fickle/capricious nature of the Fates, and in that sentence hides a judgement as well as a proposition: to end the circle of your life is to take control over Fortune, to cheat her and her train, her flirting servants, her spindle of life - no, to take the thread in your own hand, to grasp the means of the Puppet-Masters, to cut it with your own Will - this is a choice, the greatest choice, the final decision. The judgement of Solon and Solomon the ecclesiastic reads: you can expect only sorrow from this life, as sorrow is the one dark thread that binds the fabric of our reality. The effect and realm of Sorrow is itself free of judgement: it only exists - once in the middle of it, with your head held under its tide, its monochrome blood coloring your world in grays, you can no longer feel the Good and the Bad. You feel only the pull and sway of time, of reality. If sorrow is the lifeblood and water of this world, the opposite is an aberration - oh, it must be cast out. Those of you who are in ease, privilege, power, pleasure, those who lift their chins in self-righteous pride, those who feel themselves unhindered, never-bothered by the tides of Fortune: Mortality is calling to you. Your pride is the howl of the Fenris wolf crooning through your spine, from your indolent feet to your wide-open eyes. Your open mouths will be filled with ashes. Oh, to climb the ladder of life takes an immense, protracted effort - to slide down again takes only one missed step. To slide even further into the abyss, into death, into sleep, also takes an immeasurable effort - what despair can not accomplish the Will must take upon itself. We are held suspended like this between death and life, between pleasure and pain, between an exhaustion in jaded cynicism - the extinction of all pleasure - and starvation, decay - the end of all pain. The world inverts itself, good becomes bad, evil becomes good, everything becomes relative, every step we take makes the web of action and reaction, cause and effect, quiver and tremble. It fears for our souls. And where is suicide? This has been removed from our sphere of honor as our bodies and our minds - our souls - are no longer our own, if they ever were. At one and the same time the Messiah embraced the Cross while he doubted its reality. This is called faith, gentle readers - so if faith is forced upon us all as a condition of surviving, of keeping one's sanity, why is suicide reserved for the privileged? Self-extinction seems to be the most faithful act of all. But this is not my point.

Knife, Gun, Rope...

Exits to the abyss, all three. Who will mourn the man who commits himself to a final act out of faith, and then is wrong in his own estimation? What does it matter, on the edge of forever, what other people believe? A second before blessed sleep the man, a cursed animal filled with poison, doubts his own despair. Not even that, the last healing balm, the internal cry, is allowed for him. At the last second, before the final drop of blood dissolves in bath water, before the trigger slips along a sweaty finger, before the noose tightens, sags, pulls, holds, the ankles dance involuntarily - before all of this: the thoughts, revolving deep in the brain, the seat of Reason, as chained electrons along a neural pathway, collecting to themselves other similar psychological molecules, resolving themselves as political systems, emotions, chemically-derived philosophies, echoes of despair, the cries of the body, and then once again prompting an action: the second and third slashes of the kitchen knife, with all of its intimate associations, the immense weight of that pistol, weighing down your hand, so firm, so real, and yet so mysterious - it reeks of the afterlife, of the unknown (for after all it is also a key), the twists of the twine, the knots and signs, the testing of your weight, the immense difficulty of suffocating an animal, half-mud, half-divine, that can not leap at once into the hereafter, that must be removed bodily, etc. It is instructive how the casualties of experience - the constant shortcomings of the physical frame and body to move its way through the efforts and actions of the Will - become, in turn, ideas and doubts, decisions to be mulled over, complicated, pierced and dissected. Objects transcend their realistic appearances and become metaphors and archetypes in the war for psychological transcendence : we strive with them as Jacob wrestled the Angel - outer becomes inner, the inner gives rise to outer forces. The doubts rise in the gorge and a mental shrugging, a twisting, is needed to force them down again. Fears spring up, multiply, persuade, cajole, threaten, barter with the future, the Will is paralyzed beneath the weight of Reality. And all the while the knife awaits. Time becomes the ally of the fears, of the Deadly Sins: we suckle at sloth for a hundred years, slowly tightening the noose. But truly: an action spread over a series of moments, or years, is still an action, is it not? Sadly (or for some: gladly) we just are not able to grasp all the profound relationships between internal causes and external effects, our foresight does not see that far. But no, we all strangle ourselves in the end - we all call out for sleep eternal. In the end our last statements are not cries or words but actions, as the movements of the body and its influence on reality -on our own lives - are somehow the most real, the most effective. A man can not bring about his mortality by words, by abstractions, by queries, propositions, tests, feints and counter-feints. He must offer his own life as payment for his convictions: he leads himself to the altar as a sacrifice, a noose around his neck. A man's self-willed death is a stake driven through the heart of his beliefs - it stops the vertigo of reality where all that is solid constantly melts into thin air, it transfixes his beliefs with blood, the motive energy of life, it cries out in the maelstrom for a higher power, a higher reality, an act and immolation that will echo through time - an act that can not be removed, erased, or taken away from his own history. You say: his death becomes the only point on which his life will later be judged. What does it matter how 'good' a man was in life if he commits suicide? Are all his actions then thrown aside? You ask: are suicides not judged when they reach Hell, in medieval (read: modern) Christian theology - in Catholicism, that pageant train of funerals to come? I say: how can you be judged on an action that removed you from all Sin, from all the pain of God-cursed life, from the temptations and tribulations, from the eternal swirling storm of cause and effect? How can you be judged on action that stopped all other actions, that is itself half-eternal, half-divine, like God? I ask you: didn't God himself commit suicide on the cross? Is it Despair that makes the death a suicide?

'Why hath thou forsaken me?' Would I be so bold to claim that despair contains the motivation for further action? That Despair is a path towards a renewal of life? Despair is the crytallizer and destroyer of Reason, my brothers, for it evokes the realms of the unconscious and the instinctive, the jungles of pre-history, the nerves, millenia-old, that we carry as corporeal maps to our lineage and ancestry, and only in transcending Reason do we see its true nature, its limitations, the prisons of the Self, the weakness of eye, tongue, and limb: the dissolving of language into The Scream - that original utterance - the falling away of the ascendency of the Mind, of what we have experienced, been educated to understand or repeat, of the ways in which we interpret ourselves and our actions. No, Despair is as the waves of flame that the infernal legions were paralyzed upon when cast into the Lake of Fire, Despair is the end of the abyss that never comes, the terminus (Janus) with an infinite number of faces and expressions, the ability of the body (so pure and beautiful) to float in the ocean, arms outstretched, after it drowns. Despair is not Death, and should not be confused for her: they are not even sisters, but rather mortal enemies - they struggle for the souls of the lost. In Death is emptiness, a bottomless well, but Despair is a descent with the intent to return - Odin hanging inverted from the branches of Yggdrasil, the world-tree, giving one of his eyes for the Ultimate Knowledge of Life and Death, Dream and Reality (the all-seeing Inner Eye) as he gazes into the Well of Souls. Could you imagine that there would not be a price for knowledge? Even the gods, or God, had to pay - through despair, in despair, with despair. 'Why hast thou forsaken me?' Their archetypes fill reality - their myths transpire every moment, every day, as inherent in our actions. For Despair is the Awakening, the golden ladder ascending from the clouds, the walk into a new light, the mirror that reflects the inner instead of the outer, and how can a spirit truly die after its has seen the working of eternity?

U. Amtey
7 September 2000