A Helpful Guide on How to Die

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David_-_The_Death_of_Socrates

This is the Death of Socrates, a painting by French painter Jacques-Louis David. I’m not gonna lie, I know little to nothing about art so for a good analysis on this piece I’d recommend checking out Nerdwriter’s video.

Socrates was a Philosopher in Ancient Greece, he’s considered to be one of the founders of Western Philosophy and is the teacher of another Greek Philosopher; Plato. Socrates was sentenced to death by the Greek State for committing blasphemy and corrupting the minds of the Youth of Athens. He was executed via poison served to him through a chalice, which you can see in the painting.

It looks like a pretty damn theatrical. Like, his friends and students are looking heartbroken. Just look at this lad handing him the cup:

David_-_The_Death_of_Socrates

The fucking melodrama is surreal. Like he can’t even look at him while he’s handing the means of his demise. Then there’s that guy who looks like he has a busted nose:

David_-_The_Death_of_Socrates

You ever mourn so bad that you start bleeding from your own face? Also, if you do get a nose bleed- don’t hold your head back trying to keep the blood from pouring out. That’ll choke you, you’d be better off getting a tissue and squeezing your nose while it bleeds out.

My personal favourite is this Gas Cunt wailing against the wall:

David_-_The_Death_of_Socrates

It reminds me of the stories in the Old Testament where if anyone died or someone was dishonoured there’d always be some cunt to rip off all his clothes in grief and proceeded to wail as he ran up and down naked. Apparently that happened a lot back then.

Of course we can’t forget Socrates’ wife, Xanthippe, who is awkwardly ushered out in the background:

David_-_The_Death_of_Socrates

“Ummm, bye…I guess.”

And of course there’s the Mad Cunt himself, Socrates, who’s pointing up like a Madman while he uses the theatrics of his own death to deliver his final lesson: That death should not be feared by the Philosopher.

David_-_The_Death_of_Socrates

Its worth noting that Socrates at the time of his death was around seventy years old so it’s very unlikely he looked like he did fucking Cross-fit. I doubt a society that used clay to wipe their ass after excretion were civilized enough to have a food system and diet that prevented malnutrition.

But that’s a fascinating perspective on Death, one that many Theologians have come to accept. That Death is natural and a part of life that we must accept. Plato described Socrates as utterly fearless in the face of Death, as you can see in the painting above. But I doubt that’s true. No one is fearless of Death. Even if they’re the bravest person in the world there’s still that nagging sensation at the back of their mind, a reminder that this may very well be the end of the line. This tingling sensation that everything we understand about where we go after we die or if we really matter or anything really- that it could all be bullshit.

That we just sink into the abyss, returning to stage of not being alive. Completely oblivious to the years we spent in this world. All is forgotten.

I wonder if Socrates felt that when he was dying. Because his death wasn’t glorious, his death was bad. He willingly drank that poison but he didn’t die there and then- no, he was forced to walk around until his legs grew numb. So numb that he could no longer stand. He laid down, the man who handed him the chalice pinched his feet- he couldn’t feel a damn thing. That numbness crept up his body until it reached his heart.

Socrates died not feeling a damn thing.

His last words were; “Crito, we owe a cock to Asclepius, Pay it and do not neglect it.” Some translations claim that Socrates was talking about a Rooster, others say that he was being ironic. Personally, I believe Socrates was fond of the Cock. Couldn’t get enough of it. Loved to travel up the Devil’s Pipeline. Engaged in a wee bit of Sodomy on the side after a long, hard, day. Just look at Crito in the Painting, staring longingly at Socrates’ eyes- Caressing his thigh:

David_-_The_Death_of_Socrates

Looks pretty Gay to me.

I’m using the example of Socrates to talk about Death, or better yet, how to die.

As you can tell by this blog, I grew up not having many friends. I spent most of my time alone, thinking. Now thinking is a wonderful genetic trait the human brain is capable of. It allows us to explore ideas, conversations and much more in vivid detail. Of course sometimes this train of thought brings you places you don’t want to go. That’s the downside of thinking, you can’t really control it.

I’ve lived out my life and death in vivid detail about a thousand times in my head. I recall I was in my A level moving image class one day- about a year or two ago. I don’t recall what I was doing, something relatively important at the time I guess. My classmate, a friend who I will only refer to as “The Acne Ridden Manlet“, he wanted to talk about this train of thought he had the night before. About how vividly he imagined his own death.

The class wasn’t having it. I believe the teacher said “Dear God, man!” as he was not very fond of swearing (though I am proud to admit I am one of the few students to hear him say the word “Fucking” in a sentence) so we shut him down. He never talked about it since. At the time I was disengaged in the conversation, but I understood how he felt. I’ve imagined my own demise countless times.

I’ve had dreams in which I’ve died. The first one I can recall was this dream in which for some reason I was Heath Ledger’s Joker. Understand I wasn’t dressed up as Heath Ledger’s Joker, I was literally Heath Ledger’s Joker. I think sometimes I dream in movies. Anyway, I was in the interrogation room, sitting down and there was these two cops looming over me. I was unintimidated. Then one of them grabbed me by the throat, like a headlock, holding me down to the chair while the other guy stabbed me in the abdomen.

I vividly remember the pain. The knife just dug into my body- all the pain receptors lighting up in my chest. It felt scalding. I couldn’t breath. I was squirming. Like this big, sharp object is lodged into a tight space where it can’t fit- where it shouldn’t exist. I woke up after that. It felt like I was waking up after being put under by anesthesia. Your eyes are struggling to open and your ears are ringing, or they feel like when you’ve just emerged from the water and you can hear the sound in the air clearer than you could underwater.

It was weird.

The other time is more fucked up. I was running through the woods, naked, covered in blood- in the middle of the night. I somehow made it to my house- the lights were still on in the kitchen. I could see my mother by the sink. I burst through the door and fell to my knees before her, crying and begging for forgiveness. I’m looking down at the floor, then I feel this red hot pain in my neck and I can’t move my head. My mother Stabbed me in the neck- right in the bone. I was coughing up blood, could barely breath. It hurt like hell. My whole body felt stiff- cause the knife was lodged at the top of my spinal cord.

I woke up then. Want to know the worst thing? That’s not even the most fucked up dream I’ve ever had.

That prize rests on the hands of the dream I had last year. I was in this white living room in Australia (the place was hot and, I dunno, looked and smelled like Australia) It was the middle of the night. My Mother just got stabbed and I was comforting her while she bled out on the white sofa. She bled out and died in my arms. I woke up crying. I fucking cried in a dream. I cried while I was fucking asleep. How fucked up is that?

It’s pretty fucked up. I’m not even going to begin to attempt an interpretation of these dreams. If you want to give it a go contact me here or maybe leave a comment down below.

But as Trains of Thought goes I’ve had a few really deep and fucked up ones. I think the most Meta was this trip I took when I was eleven. I was lying in bed, it was like two-thirty in the morning. I couldn’t sleep, just staring up at the ceiling like a Goddamn idiot.

So I start thinking about something, I can’t remember what it was but it got me on this really vivid train of thought that lasted at least half an hour. I was really entrenched in this journey. So much so that at the end of it I remember seeing this image of the name “Desmond” flashing before me in red neon and I remember thinking “…who the fuck is Desmond?

Then I returned to the real world. Staring back up at the ceiling, it was well past three o’clock in the morning. I realised that I went on a train of thought so surreal that for a moment I forgot who I was.

Nope, too fucking Meta. Here’s a picture of a bridge:

awardDerry1

That’s the Peace bridge in Derry. A city that I completely and utterly despise. However, it does have a very pretty bridge. I remember a few moths back I was walking along the bridge and noticed that on the side there was a lot of padlocks and colorful ribbons attached to the side of the bridge. They represented the people that plunged into the River Foyle below, to drown themselves.

We have a suicide epidemic in Northern Ireland. According to the data collected by the Northern Ireland statistics and research agency  it shows us that since 1970 the suicide rates have quadrupled. In 1970 the number of suicides for the whole of Northern Ireland was 73 people, in 2016 it was 297 people. The year with the highest number of suicides was 2015, which had a total of 318.

The statistics showed a disturbing trend that revealed that men were always more likely to kill themselves than women. In 1970 the numbers for men were 43 while women were at 30. That’s only a small gap of thirteen people. By 2016 the numbers were deeply more concerning, with the number of suicides by men reaching a whopping 221 while women were around 76. That’s a difference of 148 people.

The reason for this massive divide is that for the most part women are better suited with processing their emotions. If they’re in a bad place they’re more likely to reach out to a friend to console in. Most men don’t have that luxury. They’re brought up thinking they ought to take everything on the chin like some stoic superhero. A John McClain wannabe. Instead of reaching out to people they go quiet for a few days.

I wrote a script for this sitcom/sketch I had to make in tech. As I’ve discussed before in I believe “in the defence of bad things”  my life at tech involves a group project, in which I have somehow become the guy who literally does all of the work (I hate being that guy!) And it’s not just me who noticed the fucking pile on of work I have to do, one of my colleagues commented; “Des is going to die early with all that stress” which is very fucking plausible.

The script was basically about this dystopian future in which the Earth has become increasingly overpopulated and the quality of life for most people is horrendous. So the idea of suicide has shifted from a taboo subject to a societal benefactor; like having children, getting a job or paying your taxes- people generally support it. The sketch takes place in a Euthanasia clinic and revolves around the main guy who’s surprised at how friendly and supportive the staff are in encouraging him to kill himself. It was quite drawl.

Anyway, I gave them the script. Left and they re-wrote it. Completely fucking butchered it by the way. Like it was barely pleasable to begin with, considering I wrote it in a day. But they just fucking added another random character and ruined the fucking punchline. Then one of them found the nerve to say that they found the script offensive cause he knew a person who knew a person who jumped into the Foyle to kill himself.

I kept calm and tried to defend myself, how the sketch was anti-suicide. I avoided mentioning the fact that I know many suicidal people, that my closest friends are depressed and suicidal, that all the women I’ve ever been interested in were depressed and suicidal and that I too have been depressed and suicidal- and I find it fucking hilarious.

There’s something really fucked up with this generation. Or at least the people I’ve encountered. Being raised in a world where there’s never not been a war. Where people are constantly afraid they’ll be blown up. Where the news has the life span of a mayfly. Where the constant bombardment of images and stories has just numbed us and isolated us further than perhaps anyone before us. Where the illusion of change and hope is diminished each and every day, both economically and environmentally. We seem to both ironically and unironically want to kill ourselves.

I am comfortable to admit that I’ve felt, on many occasions, suicidal. As you can tell I haven’t gone through with it because I’m starkly aware that despite not being close to many people, my death would cause severe grief to both my friends and family. It also helps having an inflated ego so powerful that it refuses to let me die. That’s one of the larger paradoxes of my character, I simultaneously have a low self esteem and a giant ego.

Currently I’m not suicidal. Though I am lonely and very tired, almost all the time. If you are suicidal I’d recommend contacting lifeline or reaching out to a friend or family member. Or anyone capable of listening.

Anyway, back to this shapeless mess of an article.

So we all know we’re going to die and we all know that we have to accept that in some degree. That’s one of the many reasons people are religious, it answers that existential question of meaning in an otherwise meaningless existence. We are all going to die, we can’t control that. What we can control is how we die. Whether it be in a fight, an accident or an intentional removal of yourself from existence- you get to choose.

So how should you die?

If you’re going to be killed by someone else I’d recommend being Assassinated over being Murdered. What’s the difference? It’s subtle really. Being assassinated implies that you were held in high regard, an influential person in society. A person of authority that could influence a nation or change a culture. Being murdered implies that you weren’t an influential figure or that you were killed by a loved one for personal reasons.

Take JFK, the 35th President of the USA. He was assassinated on November 22nd 1963 by Lee Harvey Oswald while driving through Houston, Texas. This classifies as an assassination because Kennedy, being the President, was an authority figure that could heavily influence the state. He was killed by a person for political motivations, possibly influenced by a third party.

If JFK had been shot in the head by his wife in that limousine he would have been murdered, not assassinated. Because he was killed for personal reasons by a person close to him.

Most celebrities wouldn’t achieve the level of influence to be considerable for assassination. They’d just be considered a murder victim- even if the person that killed them was a stranger or was influenced by a third party. If that celebrity ran for Office and was killed you maybe able to consider them being assassinated. Maybe.

So to be eligible for assassination you have to be an influential figure in the state at large or just your community. You’re eligible if you have significant power over someone else, i.e. a business owner. So say you’re the proud owner of a butcher shop and you make a fortune. One day, while you’re leaving your shop you’re stabbed to death by a stranger. Are you murdered or are you assassinated? Personally I say you’d be assassinated. Because you’re being killed by a stranger who possibly is being influenced by a rival and you are an influencing figure in your community-therefore you’re eligible for assassination. If you disagree share your thoughts in the comment section below or contact me here.

Vincenzo_Camuccini_-_La_morte_di_Cesare

Being Assassinated implies a person thought you were important enough to kill because you had so much power. Being Murdered implies you were killed simply because someone wanted to kill you-even if you had some minor influence in a persons life, you wouldn’t be considered eligible for assassination unless you could physically change the lives of many many people.

Caesar was Assassinated, John Lennon was Murdered.

So, how about a War?

Would you like to be shot to death? Or how about dying of heatstroke, or more likely-dying of disease like most soldiers do. They say there’s no way to die with dignity, clearly these people have never heard of Cholera. I’d choose a parade of bullets to the face over literally shitting myself to death any day of the week.

Though alas, I’m an Irish man. My country is pretty much irrelevant on the world stage. It’s a gift and a curse, really. So unless we declare war on Portugal (which we ought to) the chances of being blown up or shot to death are, sadly, very unlikely.

It’s also worth noting that unlike fifty odd years ago, conscription is not mandatory. This was done in order to create a more healthy and efficient fighting force. Basically, it helps if the people who want to go to war actually want to be there.

It’s worth remembering that according to Our World in Data the number of people dying in War across the world has declined exponentially since the end of the Second World War. If things carry on like this maybe in a hundred or so years there might even be close to zero causalities in Wars- meaning a world without war is just within arms reach.

But with energy resources being depleted and the lack of clean drinking water I wouldn’t hold my breath in a world of Peace.

Speaking of being blown up, what about Terrorism?

In Northern Ireland we had a conflict referred to as “The Troubles” that lasted from 1968-1998. The conflict claimed the lives of up to 3,600 people. The conflict was initiated by issues with Civil Rights, Gerrymandering and a culture of Sectarianism. However it was also largely influenced by the economic situation of the Province. When John Hume (one of the founder’s of the SDLP) went to America to gain support from the US senate they were staggered to hear Hume’s reports that the city of Derry had an unemployment rate of up to 40%. Meaning you had an awful lot of angry men on the streets with nothing better to do.

However it’s very unlikely we’ll be getting another start up of the Troubles anytime soon. The political landscape, although polarizing, is nowhere near as toxic as it was in the late sixties. We might not even be capable of killing each other anymore, there’s no point.

Despite the media coverage you’ll see on Terrorism it’s important to remember that there are less acts of terrorism every year. Although the number of deaths related to Terrorism in the west have risen- worldwide these number are dwindling. You’re more likely to be killed in a car crash, murdered by a spouse, choke on a wishbone or slip in the bath then be blown to bits by a Jihadi.

So how else could you die? Salmonella? Cholera? AIDES?

How about Old Age? Yes, old age. The limit to how old a human being can be in this day and age is 124. That’s the age in which your cells basically say “Fuck it, I’m done” and pretty much shut down. Killing you instantly. It’s also kind of spooky that in Genesis God says that the maximum a human being could live up to is 120. Which is fascinating because the lifespan of a person back then was barely fifty.

Then again this book also claims that Moses lived for 700 years. Why? My best guess is that he was stocked up on Angel Cum.

Personally I want to die on January 14th 2099, on my one hundredth birthday. Though I doubt I’m going to make it that long, I assume at the age of 46 I’ll be running across the road one day only to get hit by a tram- killing me and preventing me to complete my Cathedral, leaving it to be unfinished for well over a century.

But does anyone really want to live that long? To be an old fuck that can’t move his Goddamn fingers? To struggle to piss, only to one day find you’re dripping blood. Every movement you make exhausts you. I couldn’t do it.

Plus, most old people stink.

I don’t want to stink.

So if there’s a chance we’ll live in a word where no one wants to kill you but you still don’t want to live so long that your testicles look like the neck of a tortoise, well…I guess you’re going to have to Kill Yourself.

How you going to do it? Because people don’t just kill themselves randomly. No, they plan it out intricately. You pick the day, you pick the time, you pick the place, you pick the method, what you wear, how your hair looks, the message you leave behind- you get to choose everything. And to many people that’s an appealing factor. Because you may not be in control of anything else in your life. You can’t control whether or not the people you love die or abandon you. You can’t control whether or not you lose your job. You can’t control a lot of things- but you can control how you die. To someone who’s tired, miserable and wishes for everything to just be over already- that’ll suffice.

But perhaps you don’t want to die, not really. Perhaps you just want to die for like, half an hour and be reborn stronger than you were before. A better man that’s capable of bearing the weight of his own existence. Perhaps in the back of your head you hope that you may live. Maybe that’s what Socrates felt in his last moments. He said that there’s nothing to be afraid of in Death- but did he really believe it? Maybe he hoped that his body would recover from the poison, that he would rise up and declare to the State that he at this very moment was unkillable- both as an idea and as a man.

Of course even if he felt that urge to push on, that intrinsic animal spirit that screams at you to live, at that final stage he lost the ability to push. He died not feeling a Goddamn thing. Which is terrifying, not as terrifying as dying screaming like Kevin Smith’s father but terrifying none the less.

We think a lot about death but for the most part we think a lot more about life. What life is and what it ought to be like. I’m aware my articles are mostly just me rambling like a Goddamn moron but I do this for my mental health. It helps to yell at something now and again. I doubt this blog will ever be successful, or that I as a person will ever be successful but I can try. That’s good enough for me. Maybe the question isn’t how you ought to die but how you ought to live.

As an Answer I’d like to nominate Paul Eddington.

1413490410222_wps_2_Paul_Eddington_as_Jim_Hac

He was a British Actor, mostly noted for his comedic roles in sitcoms like “The Good Life” and “Yes, Minister” which, as you can tell from the blog, I’m a huge fan of. He was a Conscientious Objector during World War II, largely due to fact that he grew up as a Quaker- a faction of Christianity that is infamous for its Pacifism (though it’s worth noting that Richard Nixon was one of them) he starred in some films and had minor roles in TV. It wasn’t until he was in his forties that he became a household name with the hit sitcom “The Good Life” which was broadcasted by the BBC in 1975.

He would later play Jim Hacker in “Yes, Minister” and the followup series “Yes, Prime Minister” which were fairly successful.

Unfortunately Eddington had been diagnosed with a very rare kind of skin cancer known as mycosis fungoides when he was 28. He’d kept it secret for all his life, the only people aware was his close relatives. It was only revealed to the public in 1994 after he responded to press speculation about his darkening skin. He died in London on the 4th of November 1995.

He held his final interview five days before his death. In which he discussed his career and his battle with lymphoma. He said something that I connected with deeply and I think everyone would. Something I think answers the question about how we all ought to live. In the interview he said this;

“A journalist once asked me what I would like my epitaph to be and I said I think I would like it to be ‘He did very little harm’. And that’s not easy. Most people seem to me to do a great deal of harm. If I could be remembered as having done very little, that would suit me.”

 

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