Damned liberals are going to spoil suicide

Tearing her hair and flinging her arms round Pyramus’ body, / weeping over his wounds and mingling her tears with his blood, / she covered his death-cold face again and again with her kisses. / “Pyramus!  What dread chance has taken you from me?” she wailed, / “Pyramus, answer!  It’s Thisbe, your dearest beloved, calling / your dear name.  Listen, please, and raise your head from the ground!” / Pyramus’ eyes were heavy with death, but they flickered at Thisbe’s name. / He looked once more at his love, then closed them forever. / Recognizing her cloak and his ivory scabbard lying / empty, Thisbe exclaimed:  “Poor Pyramus, killed by your own hand, / aided by love!  I also can boast a hand with the courage / to brave such a deed, and my love will lend me the strength to strike. / I’ll follow you down to the shades and be known as the ill-starred maiden / who caused and shared in your fate.  Though nothing but death, alas, / could tear you away, not even death shall be able to part us. / You sad, unhappy fathers of Thisbe and Pyramus, hear us! / We both impore you to grant this prayer:  as our hearts were truly / united in love, and death has at last united our bodies / lay us to rest in a single tomb.  Begrudge us not that! / And you, O tree, whose branches already are casting their shadows / on one poor body and soon will be overshadowing two, / preserve the marks of our death; let your fruit forever be dark / as a token of mourning, a monument marking the blood of two lovers.” / She spoke, then placing the tip of the sword close under her breast, / she fell on the steely weapon, still warm with her Pyramus’ blood. / Those prayers, however, had touched the hearts of the gods…

–Ovid, Metamorphoses, Book IV

I’ve said before that I’m really not looking forward to the coming suicide and euthanasia debate.  We’re going to lose, of course, but not before being demonized as heartless monsters who just want old people to suffer and not before having to endure a barrage of sleazy, sentimental, self-serving, self-righteous propaganda from the Leftist media machine, which we can expect to come hard and fast when they really decide to start pushing this.  Just as socialism poisoned the word “justice” and gay-advocacy poisoned the word “love”, I expect suicide-advocates to poison the word “mercy”, and I’ll never be able to use it again without wincing.

Actually, I think the thing that will bug me most (before, that is, they come to mercy-off me personally), is how this is going to ruin suicide as a literary device.  Yes, I know, killing oneself is a mortal sin.  It’s a seriously bad thing.  But some mortal sins are more sympathetic than others, and it is right that we empathize with those who sin from weakness rather than malice.  It’s a humbling thing to realize that we too might be tempted to mortal sin, and that it is as much thanks to circumstance as virtue that we have not succumbed ourselves.  It’s no doubt sinful to apostasize under torture or threat of death, but who wouldn’t pity someone who succumbed?  We can even imagine situations so horrible that we would be tempted to suicide.

Let’s consider some of the most common suicidal situations in books and movies:

  1. distraught–rejected or grieving–lover (see Ovid above)  Grief suicide can easily lead to a grief-suicide chain reaction, which starts to become unintentionally funny only after the third corpse.
  2. extreme guilt (Even though his suicide was another sin, doesn’t it make us sympathize more with Judas?)
  3. loneliness (like the last survivor after a nuclear war thinking of shooting himself in The Twilight Zone’s “Time Enough at Last”)
  4. to avoid a more painful, degrading death (like when all the surviving humans after a nuclear war kill themselves in On the Beach to spare themselves death by radiation poisoning, or a standard zombie movie scenario:  surrounded by flesh-eating zombies, only one bullet left)

I don’t endorce suicide under these circumstances, but I don’t look for fictional characters to be moral exemplars, only that they behave in a way that is psychologically plausible.  In each case above, suicide is an expression of complete dispair.  That’s what the act objectively means, and that’s how we, up till now, have understood it.  In fact, one could say that it’s such a potent symbol of dispair that writers turn to it too quickly, rather than going for something more subtle.  However, it’s always a good thing when an act’s objective meaning and our subjective impression of it match.

This can no longer be the case.  We can’t admit to ourselves that selling suicide to the elderly means selling them despair.  Now suicide means self-determination.  In the remake, Thisbe will stab herself while crying out “My body, my choice!”  Only evil, selfish, cowardly, Christian characters will refuse to commit suicide or fail to recommend it to others.  Heroic, sexy, glamorous characters will always kill themselves–and do it in style–before becoming a burden to anyone or before suffering anything indecent.  Whenever suicide comes up in a movie, I’m going to automatically think to myself “Uh oh, here comes the lecture”.  This has already started.  I remember on some Catholic blogs, we heard that some characters kill themselves in that movie about the people in the cave, and we all thought to ourselves “Crap.  Pro-suicide social commentary.”  But we didn’t have that reaction fifty years ago when the whole population of Australia self-terminates in On the Beach.  It wasn’t a live issue then, so we could let ourselves be disturbed in an apolitical way.

I just know it.  The liberals are going to spoil suicide for me.

8 Responses

  1. Excellent post! I hadn’t thought of it that way, but it all sounds horribly plausible.

  2. Modernity has destroyed many powerful plot/artistic devices. In fact of all movies made prior to 1960, it’s hard to imagine at least half of them even being made today. Spinsterhood and bastardry are today completely normalized, nay “celebrated”. Deep male friendships? Wink, wink. Heroism itself, where not entirely missing, is mostly mocked. “Wake Up, Little Susie” would surely never be written (not that it needed to be in the first place, but only for purposes of illustration). The only way to shock your parents and friends today is to become a neo-Nazi… or… God forbid… smoke.

  3. Damned liberals. Leave it to them to ruin the good Christian enjoyment of the sins of others. It’s not like growing old, sickly, and burdensome on others could ever lead to despair or the wish to end one’s life. We’re human beings after all, not horses and should be spared the mercy of death and forced to suffer to the bitter end. It’s the Christian thing to do.

  4. I really like The Everly Brothers myself, but I get your point.

  5. Damned Old Man, I think you are missing the point, or being intentionally obtuse.

    We are about to have suicide forced upon us by the combination of demographic collapse and the total (liberal) state.

  6. Actually I was applying a heavy dose of sarcasm. It just seemed odd to romanticise suicide as an act of despair in literature, then condemn it in real life as a mortal sin. It also seems odd to characterize it as “despair” when committed by young lovers, but not by an elderly person who may be experiencing great pain or suffering, or who may not wish to see his children or grandchildren suffer due to his condition.

    I see no one forcing anyone to commit suicide. I do see it as an acceptable option for those who choose it. Your religious beliefs should have no bearing on my choice and should not be forced upon me. My life is my own.

  7. Thanks.

  8. Just as socialism poisoned the word “justice” and gay-advocacy poisoned the word “love”, I expect suicide-advocates to poison the word “mercy”, and I’ll never be able to use it again without wincing.

    True.

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