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Archive for February, 2007

February 9th, 2007 • Posted in Authors and Books

Flaws

Only through its flaws
is the
depth,
character
and safety
of black,
airless,
ice
revealed.

February 9th, 2007 • Posted in Authors and Books

Internecine War

Baby-slaying bully
Destroying the lives of psalms
Tunneling sight-lines into sleepless murder
From weeds planted by dominoed hands
Fed inside innocent rooms.
Kill now this turtling mud
By jumping off high ground
Or die yourself and leave me
Clean, free breathing
Rid of dull intestines
Flush with uncarapaced love

Copyright © 2007 by Nigel Beale

 
February 3rd, 2007 • Posted in Authors and Books

Sisyphus on an ice Rink

Continuing with Stanford:

… twentieth century existentialists saw the choice to take one’s life as a function of our experience of the absurdity or meaninglessness of the world and of human endeavor. Albert Camus illustrated this in The Myth of Sisyphus. Sisyphus heroically does not try to escape his absurd task, but instead perseveres and in so doing resists the lure of suicide. Suicide, Camus contends, tempts us with the promise of an illusory freedom from the absurdity of our existence, but is in the end an abdication of our responsibility to confront or embrace that absurdity head on. (Campbell and Collinson 1988, 61-70). Jean-Paul Sartre was likewise struck by the possibility of suicide as an assertion of authentic human will in the face of absurdity.

Speaking of absurdity and meaninglessness: I was out at a friend’s property west of Ottawa this afternoon. He owns a lot of wild rugged land upon which sits a large lake, a place he has kindly taken to taking me out to on a regular basis. An escape from current paralysis. Several weeks ago he snowblew off a large chunk of the lake’s iced surface. Since then we have, on several occasions, driven the hour and a half drive out to shovel this chunk off..It’s quite an undertaking. We’ve spent as long as two hours pushing and scraping snow aside only to return home, without skating or playing. The following week, if not day, the snow sits again as deep as ever. I’m struck by the asurdity of this meaningless task, as I’m sure Beckett, Camus and others would be. Trying mindfully and unsuccessfully to conjure some zen-like pleasure from the pastime, the moment, I do, I suppose, appreciate it for the exercise, fresh air and scenerie. But this doesn’t, like much in current life, seem enough.

February 3rd, 2007 • Posted in Authors and Books

Stoics, JD and others on Suicide


This from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
When a man’s circumstances contain a preponderance of things in accordance with nature, it is appropriate for him to remain alive; when he possesses or sees in prospect a majority of the contrary things, it is appropriate for him to depart from life…. Even for the foolish, who are also miserable, it is appropriate for them to remain alive if they possess a predominance of those things which we pronounce to be in accordance with nature. (Cicero, III, 60-61)

One could argue with Cicero over depression, for example, it’s usually only a temporary condition. Suicide pre-empts the enjoyment of future healthy happy accordance with nature.

The Roman Stoic Seneca, who was himself compelled to commit suicide, was even bolder, claiming that since “mere living is not a good, but living well”, a wise person “lives as long as he ought, not as long as he can.” For Seneca, it is the quality, not the quantity, of one’s life that matters.

Skipping a century or two, John Donne’s Biathanatos (c. 1607.) argued that Christian doctrine does not hold that suicide is necessarily sinful. His critique draws upon the logic of Christian thought itself to suggest that suicide is not contrary to the laws of nature, of reason, or of God. Were it contrary to the law of nature mandating self-preservation, all acts of self-denial or privation would be similarly unlawful. Moreover, there may be circumstances in which reason might recommend suicide. Finally, Donne observes, not only does Biblical Scripture lack a clear condemnation of suicide, Christian doctrine has permitted other forms of killing such as martyrdom, capital punishment and killing in wartime (Minois 1999, 20-21.)

February 3rd, 2007 • Posted in Authors and Books

Write prose, live longer


This from Reuters dated 4/22/2004

Poets die young — younger than novelists, playwrights and other writers, a U.S. researcher said Wednesday.It could be because poets are tortured and prone to self-destruction, or it could be that poets become famous young, so their early deaths are noticed, said James Kaufman of the Learning Research Institute at California State University at San Bernardino.For the report, published in the Journal of Death Studies, Kaufman studied 1,987 dead writers from various centuries from the United States, China, Turkey and Eastern Europe. He classified the writers as fiction writers, poets, playwrights, and nonfiction writers. He did not study the causes of death.“Among American, Chinese and Turkish writers, poets died significantly younger than nonfiction writers,” Kaufman wrote in the report. “Among the entire sample, poets died younger than both fiction writers and nonfiction writers.”

Because Kaufman studied some writers who lived hundreds of years ago, it is impossible to compare their average age of death to that of the general population.

Poets 62 Playwrights 63 Novelists 66 Nonfiction writers 68

Source: Journal of Death Studies