Monday, December 06, 2021

This Is Water

"A lot of these suicides are dead long before they pull the trigger." That was an arresting line.

He displays some biases that irritate me, yet he at least has some awareness of this.  Many people who don't share those annoying biases have no awareness that they simply have other annoying biases.


Narr said...

Not bad. I haven't read his work to any extent.

I must have endured dozens of commencement addresses, and at large, mediocre state universities the speakers are almost always rich donors, politicians, educrats, or community figures of no particular accomplishment, seldom or never creative types.

I can recall, vividly, choosing in my teen years not to interest myself in the crap that entranced 90% of my peers, and never regretting it.

Ben Schumacher said...

I'm a faculty member at Kenyon College, so I heard the address when it was given. Everyone there knew that something remarkable was happening. It is amazing how electrifying it can be for a speaker to speak real truth on such occasions.

As it happened, my wife and I, along with a friend from the English department who was serving as DFW's host, had eaten breakfast with the speaker that morning. (He'd written a non-fiction book about infinity -- no, not Infinite Jest -- and my wife is a mathematician who was teaching a Kenyon course on that subject. So we talked about math and the upcoming -- his description -- "big scary ceremony".) He struck me as a truly good guy. I am still so sad that he took his own life just a few years later.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Clinical depression exerts a powerful influence over all other thinking. The mildly depressed seem to be the most profound thinkers (there is also data to suggest that the mildly depressed are more accurate predictors of the future), but there is a limit to that. Just a little below that, in the realm of moderate depression, people start to make terrible decisions, and in severe depression, all bets are off.

james said...

I'm a little iffy with names, so your comment at the beginning perplexed me, but I looked him up and I get it now.

When I listened to his talk, not knowing who he was, it seemed as though he hit on "me-centeredness" harder than any preacher I've ever heard. After learning about his problems--it hints at a lot of pain.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

@ James - yes, that was much my thought. Interesting that his own suicide was by hanging, not shooting himself in the head, given his comments about that.

Grim said...

How tragic to be able to formulate the problem and a workable solution to it, and yet still be lost to suicide.

ClovisPolar said...

He also wrote beautifully about tennis, having been a very good amateur himself.
Here's two links:
(note the religious metaphor)

His suicide comes close to being a actual tragedy in that he tried to wean himself off his anti-depressants and then found they'd stopped working when he realised he still needed them.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Yes, medication rechallenge not working is a real thing, and notorious with some of them. It really does leave people in a hole. We all would love to be on fewer medications, or even none at all, whatever our condition is. It feels like a defeat to add one or increase a dose, even though that is not a fully rational attitude.

Narr said...

I only trust drugs for use against physical ailments and issues.

I'm not against altered states per se, mind you.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Mental illnesses are physical ailments. We knew that before Freud, who set us back decades by convincing people they had non-physical causes, such as parenting or attitude. The illnesses are highly heritable as well, with children developing them even when raised by others.