The Death of Solid Philosophy

 

I will always know that it is the case that I could just die.

I could die today or tomorrow  

from natural causes

from a person that wants me dead

or from killing myself.

I could die, and be proud of my accomplishments.

I have done so much.

I have helped and healed so much.

I have written and shared so much.

But what if the impact I am meant to create is not finished?

What if I am supposed to aspire to more?

And what if more is less?

I am not finished healing.

I am not finished writing.

I am not finished fighting.

I am not finished caring.

I am not finished…

but I am.   

  • The Death of Solid Philosophy

There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest — whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories — comes afterwards.

  • Albert Camus

 

Why should we live?

We should live to pursue an answer to the question, “Why should we live?” I think I’ve come to believe that this circular answer is the answer. Life is one huge pursuit of the question, and often we don’t ask this question verbally, but we ask it ‘verb’-ily. In other words, we often times ask this question to ourselves in our actions even if we never explicitly ask the question ourselves. The pursuit of purpose is the purpose of life, and it is the reason we live.

 

What is the value in the pursuit of purpose?

The value of the pursuit of purpose is the formation of all-value. God is not dead. God is purpose. God is the energy that permeates all life. Life is the pursuit of that energy, and the culmination of that energy until that energy dissipates. The “Death of God” is not the end of an externally imposed system of value because value is always both externally and internally imposed. We pursue our purpose from within and without. It is what the World gives us, and what we take from the World. We live for the sake of finding this purpose. Meaning itself is the meaning of life. Locating meaning in the field of meaninglessness – that is life. Something more than biology wakes us up in the morning, something more than that ringing alarm. It is the run, the chase, the pursuit of the meaning of life. Even the nihilist pursues meaning, perhaps never finding it, but lives in the direction of striving for meaning itself.

 

What is the importance of purpose for this generation?

I think that this is the question that haunts my generation. We are not a purposeless generation. We are spectacularized generation, driven into anxiety in order to prove to the World that we are not just pursuing our purpose, but we are living it each and every day. We are an anxiety-driven generation – economic, racial, gender, and sexuality-based anxious generation – attempting to find a purpose and often we find it in our victimization. “My purpose is to fight on behalf of the oppressed.” Even white people are starting to think they are oppressed. It is a perfect purpose pursuit because the run is infinite. We can live and die and believe that our life had meaning, even if there wasn’t any meaningful sociopolitical change. Social media fuels the anxiety of our time, our externally imposed pursuit of purpose, and the feeling that we may never find our purpose. And this is because we seek our purpose – on a macro-level – in comparative terms with the World. How does the purpose that I have compare to the purpose of everyone else? Am I living up to my purpose in the eyes of my peers? How can I share every episodic display of my purpose? How I can have this pursuit of purpose reaffirmed (retweeted) and approved (liked) by the World? Social media doesn’t help or hurt the pursuit of purpose – it just increases the anxiety associated with it because we must not only pursue our purpose, but we must also perform it to the pleasure of the World.

What is your purpose?

I have now tried to kill myself twice, and there was nothing spiritual about me not finishing the task. It was a weakness that prevented me. However, my purpose has since changed. I used to believe that my purpose was to be a career politician. When I was younger and I played football, I wanted to play football for Navy in college, then go do the 4 or so years you have to complete in the Navy, then play football in the NFL for 2 or 3 years, and then start a career in politics. My reason? I wanted to change the world. This was my pursuit of changing the World. But, when I got diagnosed with my heart condition that changed. I couldn’t play football nor go to the Navy. So I started to write and read more vigorously. Eventually, I found purpose in activism. My reason? I wanted to change the world. Same purpose, different pursuit. Today, my purpose is to love my family and friends better, to care for individuals on an individual level more, and to be happy. I simply want to be happy, to spread love, and to care. It is simple, but it is the least I can do in a World that can never be rebuilt, that can never be undone, that can never be made anew.

 

What is the Death of Solid Philosophy?

 

Solid Philosophy, in a lot of ways, was a person and a persona. It was me and the spectacle that I made of myself while doing activism. However, Solid Philosophy is a calcification of myself. Solid Philosophy is a monolithic portrayal. Oftentimes, when you have a monolithic portrayal people see you as that one-thing, and they don’t allow for fluidity in your person. However, I am Many. I am a collection of people, pursuing different meanings, in one body. I did not physically die by the tree I tried to hang myself on, but I did symbolically die. So the Death of Solid Philosophy is a memorial to the man I once was. The man who loved books as much as he loved people, the man who cared for others more than he cared for himself, the man who wanted to show men that to be a man you needed to cry and you needed to be held, and the man who lived his life as if every day might be his last. Solid Philosophy is dead, and I am all the more better for killing him.

 

What is the last thing you want to say as Solid Philosophy?

 

In this World, we are all performing. We are performing authentically and inauthentically. Solid Philosophy was an authentic performance. I never thought I loved myself more than when I was Solid Philosophy. However, I wasn’t loving myself because I was turning myself completely into what the World wanted me to be, which was Solid Philosophy. The World wanted me to be simple, definable, and confinable. But, I never have been and I never will be…. I told a past lover, if I ever was to die, and I was only allowed to say three words to her before I did, I wouldn’t tell her that I loved her, I would instead say, “You are multiple,” because for me that would be more than love. It would be wisdom, and regardless, there will always be something about Solid Philosophy, and the solidity that is Solid Philosophy, that places wisdom, and the love of wisdom above all things. To say, “You are Multiple” is to accept the stage and the multiple scripts one is forced to play while on it, and instead of crunching oneself down to something simple and easily digestible for the world, allowing oneself to be all that one is supposed to be to their fullest potential is what personal multiplicity allows for. Social media doesn’t allow this. The World doesn’t often allow this. It wants something/someone constant. It wants someone linear. But we are all quantum – non-linear, paradoxical, multidimensional, and indefinitive. We aren’t supposed to know people, we aren’t supposed to know the world, we are supposed to experience it as one might experience a show or a play. We never know what will occur, but we allow the performance to take its course. And we allow the characters on the stage to be multiple – even if the person who wrote the script, whose mind brought it to life, was one.  Solid Philosophy needs to die because life is hard, and life is even harder, living under one umbrella, when you were born to have multiple.

Advertisements

On Suicide // On Care: because life is hard, part 2.

The opposite of suicide is care. If suicide is defined by the act of intentionally killing oneself, then care is the act of intentionally preventing one from killing oneself. But, as I have mentioned in other essays, death is never singular nor is care. When one commits suicide one does not simply kill oneself, one kills parts of oneself that were in relation to others. My suicide attempt would not have simply suicided me. It would have suicided the mother-son relationship my mother has with me; it would have suicided the girlfriend-boyfriend relationship my partner has with me; it would have suicided the brother-brother relationship my brother has with me. This makes suicide a multiplicity. My suicide suicides others. Additionally, however, my suicide is always something that occurs not as a response to, but in a relationship to others/an Other.

It is for this reason that “13 Reasons Why” makes absolute sense. What “13 Reasons Why” does is it makes clear the relationships that fostered (not forced, but fostered) the cause of death, whereas prototypical suicide leaves the material world with questions. It is not that “13 Reasons Why” is an over-exaggeration. It is that “13 Reasons Why” is an exemplification, a drawing out of the lines that assisted in facilitating the suicide. Whereas the world is typically left to theoretically construct the social and relational causes of death, “13 Reasons Why” portrays a suicide that leaves no one in the dark. For example, Kalief Browder could have very easily made more than 13 reasons why he committed suicide in relationship to the social context that he was forced to endure. But, the fact that he did not does not mean that what he was suffering from was something internal. What he was suffering from destroys the external/internal binary. Suicide/Suicidal ideation/suicide attempts are both internal, as a procession of thoughts, thinking and behaving that is dealt with inside of oneself, and external, as a procession of behaviors, relationships, structural and institutional networks that operate outside of oneself. Suicide occurs in a context of sociality.

The same can be said of care. When one commits oneself to care, one commits oneself invariably to us-care. For example, for most of her life, my mother has worked as a support counselor for the mentally disabled. She has wielded her body, utilized her muscles, bones, energy and brains in dedication to the care of the mentally disabled. But even outside the kinds of care that have allowed my mother to support herself financially, my mother has taken seriously us-care as a way of living in all aspects of her life. Caring for my cousins as if they were immediate family – offering housing, tutelage, and wisdom. Caring for my friends as if they were her children – offering advice, guidance, and food. Caring for the homeless and the formerly imprisoned through opening our home to them and inviting them in to our place to stay. My mother is the embodiment of the practice of us-care. My mother is committed to a politics of care that recognizes the link between care and livability. The possibility of many to make it to the end of the day has relied on the emotional, physical and intellectual care of my mother. And then, when those around us are cared for, when their body-mind-and-spirit is attended to and well, it makes us feel more at ease. It creates cycles of care that reproduce the prospect of life. One does not have to worry about the specter of suicide. The caretaker themselves feel cared for and then, those who have benefitted from access to the caretaker can learn from the pedagogy that accompanies their care and recycle the techniques. One day every caretaker needs to be taken care of, and those who have received the care of the caretaker must appropriate the methods of the caretaker in order to recreate the cycle. Caretaking isn’t trickle-down; caretaking is spread-across.

One commits suicide when one feels devoid of care, when one feels care is absent and cannot be retrieved, when one feels the weight of a careless world. One commits to care when one attempts to alleviate the tremors and troubles of suicide, when one attempts to destroy the affective apparatus that attempts to concretize the absence of care, when one attempts to invade the careless world with weapons of reconstruction. We have taken suicide to be an act of killing oneself without an investigation to the relational aspects of the act of suicide. We only see the relational aspects of suicide in two brief moments: 1) At the funeral of the suicided person, or 2) At the hospital when the attempted suicide fails. For example, in the aftermath of attempting suicide, I had received tons of notifications from people whose relationality was importance in fostering my suicide attempt, friends I hadn’t spoken to in years,  and persons I barely knew informing me how much they loved me and cared for me and hoped that I stuck around and survived. My attempted suicide revealed the relational aspects of the act of killing myself. But, it also energized people to participate in a practice/politics of care. By not looking at suicide, we fail to see the necessary relationality that has to structure of practice of care.

We have overlooked and underestimated the importance of care because we have not looked closer at suicide and have often taken the words of the suicidal to be misrepresentations of the world rather than reinterpretations of the world. Here is a wonderful example of the latter statement. When I was in the hospital and I was talking to the psychiatrist, I told her that I did not see suicide as a sign of weakness. I told her that for me suicide was harder than living and if I had more courage I would have finished the job. This, for the psychiatrist, was a clear sign of mania. For the non-suicidal, life is the hardest thing to do and suicide is easy. Suicide is a “permanent solution to a temporary problem.” For the suicidal, life is like breathing. It is done without thought. It is done compulsively. It is done “just because.” No one thinks to live. They just do it until they don’t. But if life is like breathing, suicidal people are people who like to count their breaths, who like to think about breathing every step of the way, who like to notice that breathing is more complicated than it has to be, and that stopping one’s breath is an end to all complications – temporary or infinite, past, present or future. A suicide attempt is an attempt to hold your breath until you pass out from it. For the suicidal, people who continue to choose life even though it’s hard to breathe are people too afraid to hold their breath until they no longer breathe. Holding your breath when the impulse and instinct is to breath requires strength. Choosing the permanent solution to the never-ending problem of depression, ideation, and absent care and relationality does not take weakness; it’s takes commitment.

When Ohio activist MarShawn McCarrel committed suicide, black activist, organizer and academic communities wrote about the importance of self-care as if what MarShawn needed was time and space to simply deal with his demons alone. However, if his “demons won” and they are multiple, why are the forces fighting those demons individual? MarShawn, like all of us, needed to hear, feel, and obtain us-care in a world that sees little value in it. What one hears in the words, “My demons won today” is an internal/external battle that breaks the dichotomy that exist between the two. Suicide is both an internal and external struggle that requires a continual interrogation of the internal since what is internal is always externalized in some form of another. Us-care is an internal and external methodology that requires the continual interrogation of the micro/macropolitical division since what is micro is always made macro when care is done correctly. Each and every form of suicide is a result of absent care. Each and every socio-political enigma is a question of: should we care or should we not care? For this reason, I’ll conclude with the words of the most radical caretaker I know, the woman who has dedicated her life to facilitating the politics of care, my mother, who has always told me, showed me, and taught me the radical importance of open, vulnerable, affective and effective care. In her rather simple words, “All we can do is care for each other.”