The obsession with suicide is characteristic of the man who can neither live nor die, and whose attention never swerves from this double impossibility. [EM Cioran, The new gods].
How is it, given all we know about ourselves and our world, that so few of us kill ourselves?
The central concern of Catastrophic Edge will be one simple question. It is the question that haunts me. It is the single question that has pursued me through everything else I have done. It first occurred to me as a depressed adolescent, at a time that I embraced a complete physicalist reductionism and a total moral eliminativism. It occurred to me when my ontology was one of the simple realization: every thing is simply the reorganisation of matter into various patterns (there is no authentic novelty etc). It is a question that I returned to only when I began to return to these nihilistic conclusions after having spent- or wasted- so much time fleeing from them instead of sharpening them.
The question is itself is simple:
How is it, given all we know about ourselves and our world, given all we know about the everyday suffering, the pain of children, of adults, of war victims, rape victims, of the normal man in the street, of the pneumonia victim, the chronically bored, the depressed, the cold, homeless, hungry, the rage filled, the cancers, the systems and structures of violence, and the (still) inevitability of so much of this suffering…the eventual prospect of death; given all of this- why is it that so few of us kill ourselves? This question blossoms into others. What are the illusions that allow us to live? Isn’t happiness, or at least optimism, a kind of delusional system? What happens when we take cosmology, Darwinism, the messages of cognitive science, seriously? Is it really possible- as the post-nihilist impetus has it- to selected and develop infrastructures that can behaviourally foster the conditions under which a life after nihilism is possible? What does it tell us that such a project would even be necessary, at least concievably so? Some other questions branch out from this about the nature of rationality, madness, and the urge to save the lives of others.
The purpose of this blog is to accompany, to encourage, my “research” into suicide, and into the dark world of psychopathology in general. I am keeping this work separate from syntheticzero at this time because the post-nihilist project necessarily has more in the way of an optimism. The work on this blog will focus much more on the dark moment of speculative nihilism, philosophical pessimism, and the relation to suicide. To a lesser degree this blog will also look into what sometimes get called para-suicidal behaviours such as self-harm and anorexia nervosa. It will also look at the Ballardian idea of ‘the death of affect’ through the erosion of empathy, the rewarding of psychopathy and sociopathy, and the problem of addiction. This will also be a project that displays fidelity to dissociation, to trauma, to fugue states, to anxiety, to all these modes of displaced vulnerability.
For those who don’t know me through other (paused) writing projects such as syntheticzero and the sometimesexplode libcom blog a little introduction:
I am not a philosopher or a political theorist. My training in critical thinking extends as far as an undergraduate degree in continental philosophy. Instead I am a psychiatric nurse working in the field of addiction. I largely work with heroin addicts, almost all of whom have some history of abuse, some post-traumatic injury, and certainly all of whom suffer depression and anxiety.
Given the nature of this blog, its themes and subjects, it’s obsessional core, I will extend the obvious trigger warning. I will not be placing trigger warnings on every post. This is a blog about suicide that will not be making the a priori decision that life is worth living. And the only justification I can give is that of obsession, which is to say, in the end, that there is no justification and never could be.