Saturday, November 01, 2008

the pleasure principle


little. yellow. different. deadly in sufficient quantities. [photo credit: The Train!]

two days ago, a former staff member of the university where i teach-slash-study killed himself very violently and, worse, very, very publicly. i found this out from my students, who had all received text alerts from friends who had either witnessed it or saw it on the news. i received a text message from verizon telling me about all the minutes i hadn't used up, because i have no friends.

we all thought, at the time, that it had been a student who had died. later, we found out it was actually a 61 year old man, so we pretty much stopped caring after that.

it did make us wonder, though. why all the attention? dude was 61. but before we found that out, we had other questions. wasn't there anyone in this kid's life who could have stopped him? and was it an act of protest or a cry for help?

if i were to use suicide as a cry for help (and i had already ruled out actually crying for help), i would write a very long note in which i would complain bitterly about how expensive premium ice cream is and how i never learned to play "just like heaven" on the piano. then i would find a bottle of pills and empty its contents into the trash. finally, i would lay down and go to sleep, empty bottle in hand.

when one of my myspace or facebook friends found me (and i know they're my friends because i can keep track of their picture uploads and changes in status), i would tell them how i didn't want to be saved, and how if they really cared about me they would get me some ben and jerry's phish phood.

when i got to the hospital, the tox screens would come back clean, and the doctor would ask me if i had overdosed on anything, and i would answer, malaise, because i am a grad student in an english department and whoever is the malaisiest wins. in this way, graduate students in english departments are very much like the members of high school drama clubs. if i did it all wearing vampire fangs i would probably be enshrined in high school cafetoriums across the country.

now, i wouldn't actually take the pills. i mean, you'd have to be someone who felt utterly alone, someone in utter desperation, to do a thing like that. in the age of social networking and internet dating, that's just not possible.

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