by Daniel Drumright, a lifelong radical environmentalist who has followed climate science for the last 25 years, and has been a feral “collapse theorist” for the past 13 years
Once again, the following has been written for an extremely limited audience. This essay is ONLY for those who have come to accept the probability of our near term extinction and the emotional anguish it obviously generates.
For those who haven’t accepted this, or those who have long term dependents in their care or have a particular survivalist imperative, there is no reason to read any further, and I honestly hope you won’t. This is a commiserative thought experiment written ONLY for those whose lived experiences have afforded them the intellectual/emotional freedom to fully explore the dismal implications that virtually no one will survive near term global starvation.
But more importantly, this was written for an audience that has come to comprehend the principal concept of ‘hopium’ more than anything else, even the climate science behind NTHE. Once one is able to see beyond the palliative effects of hope, or rather our inherent fear of hopelessness, much of the smoke of our cultural predicament begins to clear.
While I originally sought to write this homily in essay form, due to the mystifying density of the subject matter where most days I find myself utterly dumbstruck by the sheer scale of the cataclysm, I can at best only string together a series of meditative vignettes that further explores an uncomfortable taboo, and which is but a continuation of an essay I posted in this space over a year ago.
For those seeking concision on the murkiness of mass death, you’ll need to look elsewhere. Lest we forget, at this moment in time, in spite of NTHE being empirically based on overwhelming physical evidence, for those on the radical fringe who have come to ‘accepted it’ today, it still exists almost solely as a philosophical concept. In my opinion, all conversations concerning NTHE, can only seriously arise after having long contemplated the implication within Guy’s climate-change summary and update.
As well, the following is also not written for those who still consider “resistance” to be an arguable moral imperative, even in a Pascalian sense. Acceptance of NTHE obviously renders ALL forms of resistance but an article of faith after the fact, compared to the last half century where the ethical imperative of resistance was primarily rooted in the ecological necessity of safeguarding against the very outcome “we” have now come to accept. If nothing makes it out alive, then nothing can be saved. On this side of acceptance, every act is just a coping mechanism.
While I have dedicated my entire adult life to ecological anarchism, in light of the overwhelming unprecedented empirical evidence now before us, resistance is no longer an imperative I can honestly possess nor defend. I am beyond heartbroken, the tragedy of the human condition will never cease being anything but an endless cause of sorrow and grief. For me, the continued destruction of the natural world for the sole purpose of sustaining a doomed civilization has been nothing but agony my whole life. However, the conflict created by acceptance of NTHE has not prevented me from vainly questioning what is left to be experienced in the phenomenal time that still remains.
There probably isn’t a single aspect concerning NTHE that isn’t a cognitive dissonant trigger. All of us are of at least two minds: how we intellectually process information and how we emotionally respond to such information — the phenomena that exist to be observed and our ability to observe it. And our emotional capacity to observe a thing often dictates what we imagine exists to be observed. While NTHE is rationally and empirically based, acceptance of such dire evidence however, is wholly an emotional endeavor … and that’s where everything flies off the tracks.
So acceptance of NTHE not only demands “we” first put the highest intellectual value on observable empirical evidence that we innately comprehend undermines our sense of self-preservation, but then, “we” must completely shift to an entirely different emotional state of ‘being’ with such evidence. There are very few individuals in the world who are even capable of attempting this, not alone, maintaining their sense of bearing once they have.
“We have great difficulty dealing with philosophy in context of real events” (John Ralston Saul)
Yet, here “we” are, attempting to do exactly that, not only in context to an event that has yet to gravely impact the affluent western world, but presuming that when it does, most of life on earth will cease to exist. Like I said, most days I find myself utterly dumbstruck.
Selfishly seeking illumination in the dark light of NTHE is either profoundly absurd or absurdly profound, but then again, so is most of humanity. As to whether “we” agents of demise have any “right” to even seek peace in the wake of our ongoing collective annihilation, is but one of countless questions made irrelevant by the acceptance of NTHE. Never before, has the forced acceptance of thing, so completely erased that which came before it. And where on this side of acceptance, we’ve only the cold vacuum of truth to keep us warm, while virtually every past attempt to define the meaning of life is but now suspended in a state of erasure. There isn’t a single story or event within all of human history that can even remotely serve as a comparative example or an analogy to what the human race is now experiencing.
At this late or last stage of collective awareness, I find myself only interested in commiserating with those who have come to share a similar dire perspective, given such commiseration is attempting to wrestle with the greatest cognitive break in human history. Needless to say, I spend a lot of time talking to myself.
From here on out, the entire conversation of NTHE will probably never move past several central themes and points of predictable contention: Denial vs. acceptance; observable evidence vs. peer review science; truth vs. hope; survivalism vs. resignation; resistance vs. acquiescence; service vs. self-interest; cognitive dissonance vs. commiseration; suicide vs. starvation, and so on. But it is impossible for humanity to resolve any social disparity, there is no such thing as consensus at this scale, nor is there any such thing as “we”.
Endlessly arguing with those who don’t accept NTHE does little but keep “us” emotionally and intellectually trapped in past paradigmatic behavior that I believe many here at Nature Bats last (NBL) are now attempting to get beyond. While I have spent decades cataloging, referencing and debating the mounting evidence, this was done with intentional purpose during a time when I believed it mattered, but on this side of acceptance, I can no longer see the point, given that the point is, is that there is no point. For why would I seek to prove I am right, when all I wish for is to be wrong?
The unprecedented evidence has forced me to finally accept a truth which I have resisted all my life. It is time to take a serious look at what past behavior is still habitually keeping me from truly being present with this tragic reality, given that the vast majority of my identity has been married to the principle of resisting the very thing I can no longer deny.
We are a hopelessly divided species. Our divisions are incessant even among those who share a common culture, so I have no idea as to what personal character trait or individual background affords someone the ability to seriously consider something as emotionally ruinous of NTHE. But whatever it is, aside from obviously valuing “truth” at all personal cost, and the privileged opportunity to seriously contemplate such truth, an intimate relationship with humility seems to be required in navigating the desolate labyrinthine of remorse that all is most likely lost.
One could argue that the whole of our collective ecological awareness over the last half century has been nothing but an exponential humbling experience, where the human race now finds itself on the wrong end of a growth curve, rounding the final corner of a Copernican Turn that apparently never stopped turning. The same humility required in objectively accepting the sheer scale of the known universe, as well that we evolved from lower life forms seems to be the same requisite values for comprehending the dire implications of non-linear climate change.
And I would go so far as to say that ‘acceptance of NTHE’ is probably only a current “moral dilemma” for those who have long possessed ecological values and the intrinsic culpability those values naturally entail. One simply must have within them the capacity to comprehend the hypocrisy behind all that has already been lost, before we are able to see all that will continue to be lost.
Similar to all the evidence proving there was clearly more involved with 9/11 than just the dominant narrative, when one finds themselves having to explain that which is otherwise self-evident, it doesn’t usually have much to do with any amount of evidence, and usually has everything to do with what personal biases are creating certain blind spots within our worldview. So just as a previous understanding of realpolitik aides one in coming to terms with 9/11 most likely being some kind of an inside job, possessing ecological values aides one in fully being able to internalizing the conundrum of NTHE.
It seems the longer one has been divorced from the subjective trappings of a consumer culture, the clearer objective reality can be perceived in all its belittling splendor. But as anyone who has spent even a modest amount of time engaged in ecological conscious raising, inevitably discover for themselves a myriad of competing cultural vested interests, which makes bearing ecological values little more than a tragic burden within an utterly indifferent economic reality, where our species biological imperative trumps all else regardless of the culture we were reared.
The evidence of NTHE will obviously resonate more with those who have been “psychologically primed” by decades of lost battles, compared to those who have never really given the entrenched cultural and economic factors of our ecological dilemma any serious thought.
Environmentalism has always been a game of chance, where the odds have always been stacked against any significant societal change ever occurring. The cultural impediments have never been anything other than stupefying; capitalism has been as immovable as our competing self-interests. And while resistance has never seemed like anything other than a losing battle, there was at least the perceived opportunity for a major sea change of consciousness to at least start to take root, or least “we” imagined there was still enough time for such a transformation to manifest. No matter how slim or distant that prospect has always been, the environmental movement of the last five decades could at least hold the high moral ground, as well as logically out debate any counter argument to maintaining the self-evident destructive trajectory of the status-quo.
However, while environmentalism has always been a game of chance, it has also always been a race against time. And not a race where we get to continually move the finish line as every new generation of vanguards is handed off the baton, but a race that mother nature eventually decides she is just tired of watching, or rather, the laws of thermodynamics eventually shift to a new equilibrium.
The major blind spot of environmentalism has been the moral imperative itself, for it has blinded us to the fact that humanity’s biological imperative has always superseded any subcultures concept of ethical behavior. In light of NTHE, only certain eastern religious branches and western nihilism can now in hindsight claim to have always known the greater “truth,” while we western radicals now find ourselves twisting in the wind at the end of a rope that was only ever attached to a castle in the sky.
It is not by accident that over the last fifty years, most environmental protest movements have been overwhelmingly generational youth movements as well, and in the same inverse vein, it is not by accident the adherents of NTHE are now overwhelmingly near or beyond retirement age. Relatively the same imperative and cultural obstacles still exist as they always have, the only difference is how long one has honestly lived with these cultural impediments; the number of years one has repeatedly banged their head against the epitaph of immovable human nature (growth). All that is eventually lost over the years is just our open-minded naivety and the illusion of human agency where there apparently never was any (i.e., the essence of hopium).
It is far too easy for us humans to project our private values unto the world at large, it’s debatable as to whether it’s impossible not to. And not unlike birds of a feather, moral imperatives tend to gravitate towards sympathetic in-groups, where a crusade mentality quickly becomes a self-identifying Hallmark against perceived otherness. (I am less pointing the finger at other’s fringe behavior, rather I’m just looking back over my own life.)
There has probably been very few “in-groups” who believed they knew something to be self-evident, where they didn’t endlessly decry why “others” just don’t “get it”. Whether it is Rightwing Christian Fundamentalists or leftwing radicals, the patterned behavior so overlaps it almost doesn’t matter what “we” believe. Whether it’s a particular faith in divine intervention or private illusions of collective human agency, we have always found ourselves in exactly the same position when it comes to the endless fracturing of society as a whole, as well as our collective penchant for myth making. (There are at least 21,000 different denominations within Christianity alone, I wonder how many environmental groups there has been over the last half century.)
And yet, in spite of all our cultural divisions and self-delusion, the fact remains, that at no other time in human history has a certain extreme minority ecological subculture (NBL) been faced with such an inconsolable dilemma as having to accept the empirical evidence of NTHE, i.e. non-linear climatic positive feedback loops. Aside from all the human behavior that has repeated generation after generation to no avail in preventing this phenomenal moment from arriving, here “we” few stand, now being forced to accept something no living human being has ever had to before … as if our idiosyncratic stew wasn’t spiced enough.
In my opinion, the only thing that is open for debate regarding our near term future, is our imaginations and the ever present probability that we are wrong about everything (read the mindboggling 5% of UFO phenomena for example). But as far as our tribal brains can deduce, thermodynamics doesn’t care what we think, or that “we” even exist at all. Regardless of how the future plays out, it will most likely be nothing other than what has come before, just endless horrific suffering, until most of life on earth is snuffed out. All that’s changed, is it’s just now happening at an incredible rate coalescing during many of our lifetimes.
Consequently, all NTHE amounts to is just all the dire warnings of the last five decades coming to fruition. A half century of yelling “FIRE!” has now passed, and in both the throes and on the cusp of mass extinction, on which side of acceptance does the burden of proof fall? Whether all of life, or just most of it will be driven into extinction is an irrelevant distinction, because the outcome remains the same for most of life on earth, including any definition of “us”.
Many who might be reading this have been thinking about mass die-off/back for probably way too long. But most of that time has been in context to the ongoing collapse of IC, not on this side of having to accept the evidence of our NTHE. We’re now talking about an entirely different reality that has simply never existed, but we’re often still speaking in a past parlance that is no longer germane to the unprecedented phenomena that has only just been discovered. By the time an individual has jumped through enough mental hoops to eventually shed a degree of their inculcation, to where they finally come to comprehend the meaning of hopium, language itself has long been deconstructing into useless symbolism. The word play involved in NTHE is terribly easy for “us” to continue to conflate, connote and resignify given we’ve been watching the same storm approach for most of our lives. There isn’t a soul here who isn’t in some way still blinded by our past vested interests and using outmoded language to specify a reality that is sadly no longer there, especially given we are still at a loss as how to describe what is. And as with every dilemma concerning NTHE, this will never be resolved.
The dawn of NTHE awareness/acceptance has a surreal limbo period, where our internal dialog exists in a near schizophrenic state of competing loyalty to both the “truth” we have long sought, and the identity of the seeker that has driven us to such dire awareness. Again, NTHE represents the greatest cognitive break in the history of our species, and it will never cease in being anything other than that, but though it has long been in the making, it still takes some time for this new awareness to level everything once we’ve accepted it has finally arrived.
So as the irrefutable evidence mounts that our race against time has ended, a multitude of unprecedented dilemmas present themselves, leaving us to decide whether we can truly internalize them without going completely mad, or whether going completely mad might not be so bad given that the long term consequences of madness/addiction have recently ceased to exist as well.
So, those of us who have the queer emotional wherewithal, to attempt to crack the utterly dismal enigma as how this irreconcilable knowledge will alter our lives during the twilight of our existence, the entire concept of ‘suicide’ eventually comes to be shown in a totally different light than it has ever been before. Again, lest we forget that every thought pertaining to NTHE has never existed before! We are in completely uncharted territory, there are no landmarks out here.
Regardless of where we see ourselves on this side of acceptance, our sentiments surrounding both the meaning of life and death has been completely turned inside out. There is now within each of us, a newly exposed part of ourselves that has never existed before this moment. This new wrinkle in our consciousness has left quite the rub. Each and every one of us, now has the evidence to shed virtually every thought we’ve ever had if we so choose.
As a highly informed community (NBL), where many of us have long been critical of “others” cognitive bias/dissonance, we are ourselves still coming to realize that NTHE has presented us with a unique mirror in which to see everything in a completely different light, if but only for a very limited amount of time. We are finally being confronted by a degree of irrefutable truth we’ve long seen approaching, but have never actually directly experienced … until now.
I have come to accept NTHE for the same reason why I don’t fight to preserve grizzly habitat in my home state — though they once ruled these parts — because there is a significant difference between threatened, endangered and extinct. The very basic cause and effect of ecological degradation that we have observed all our lives has done nothing but slowly move the entire world through all three.
Personally, as time passes, moments throughout the day are becoming more acute as my estranged terrestrial perspective is being forced to become ever more cosmological and transient. On my better days, I can see it as if falling in love with the ephemerality of time itself. The very thing I once took for granted has become the most sacred, while the very biota I once held above all else, has become the very thing I must learn to let go of. The guilt, shame, outrage and sadness of what could have been never fades, it’s just the lens through which I have perceived the meaning of life is broadening to encompass the meaningless erasure of all of life as if we never even existed.
The web of life was hopelessly broken before any of us were born, time to stop holding onto to the dream that there is no difference between ‘falling scales’ and ‘life still hanging in the balance’. Even conservation work now seems little more than just another anthropocentric coping mechanism, though I see it as the only gracious endeavor that remains for humanity.
The specter of death is now all too intimately looking over all of our shoulders. There is a definite look in our own eyes now that we have never seen; a certain knowing that we can’t yet describe out of fear that by naming it, we might conjure up something we’re yet prepared to face and/or let go.
Acceptance of NTHE equates to no one survives, period. And where only those who fight to the bitter end, only survive for a little longer as a result of either dumb luck, or the horrors they are/were willing to commit.
While the mantra “cut wood and carry water” is poetic, it’s a little saccharine to assume we’re all just going to drop dead in a field once we can no longer do either.
I may be mistaken, but I see those here at NBL aren’t all too concerned anymore about how we are going to survive what we now accept can’t be. I like to imagine “we” are a little more interested in how we resign ourselves to live with the full acceptance of the near timing aspect of extinction, which is literally a degree of philosophical inquiry that again has never emerged until now! “Cutting wood and carrying water” helps get us through these days, but days like these aren’t going to last much longer.
So, since we aren’t talking about surviving nor resisting anymore, what are we attempting to talk about? Or more to the point, what are we NOT talking about, while imagining we are?
Most here know the answer to that rhetorical question. What we’re all talking around is the same thing humanity has always talked around, death. But it’s one thing to speak about death in future abstract terms or even in context of hospice care, but it’s an entirely different dilemma to see it fast approaching and understand it can’t be avoided regardless of what we do, while still having much life left in us.
Just one of the many problems those of us who seek to commiserate about NTHE experience is that there aren’t any social mores that allow for such a discussion in any culture. But given we’re now living on the wrong side of non-linear rates of climatic change, and NBL is the only public space this reality is being openly discussed, how about we take a stab at creating a few new mores for ourselves.
Let’s start talking about how we’re all going to die, not vaguely, halfheartedly or sarcastically, but specifically so that we can actually begin to get beyond that specter, and start being creative in figuring out how we’re going to live through extinction until that fateful day comes for each of us. Because if we’re talking about acceptance, it’s probably time we get around to actually talking about what IT is we’ve come to accept, beyond endlessly lamenting the loss of all the rest of life, and incessantly debating our legacy of agency which has nevertheless led us to where we are today irrespective of our personal opinions.
This is what I imagine to be that ever present dark side of the spectrum we’ve yet to openly explore, that unknown that reveals the essence of all acceptance to be but ephemeral; that space from which every next dot to be connected inevitably emerges. Our foreboding next step where we realize the proverbial “the dark night of the soul” we like to envisage we’ve somehow passed through in just getting to this unbearable stage of acceptance, actually starts all over again in how we attempt to live with “it” over the coming decade(s).
Many of us have already stumbled into this unfathomable abyss many times, but just haven’t been able to “breakthrough,” because … well … look at what in the fuck we’re actually discussing. It’s not like the subject of en masse starvation readily lends itself to public deliberation. But not because we are actually talking about starvation, but because there just aren’t that many of us who are comfortable talking about what we’re going to do in lieu of it, which is most likely suicide, or maybe some creative passive version of it.
Probably very few of those who are fully aware of what is coming, will actually end up needlessly putting themselves through the painful act of starving to death. Why would we put ourselves though such intractable suffering when we won’t be able to argue against the fact that any number of remedies would do the trick in but an instant? That is ultimately the whole point of discussing suicide now. Not because we are some ecological Thanatos cult who share an unconscious death wish, but because “we” want to be able to honestly live in the time we do have left, without living in fear of some unspeakable truth that our culture doesn’t allow us to openly discuss.
The knowledge that we will not survive, supported by the comprehension we most likely wouldn’t want to survive even if we could, along with a little pathos that we might not even deserve to survive, does make one’s acceptance of our near term death a little easier to, well … accept.
No one consciously wants to be miserable, and there is no comforting way to talk about suicide while we’re still attempting to cling to the last vestiges of life. Lord knows we can go round and round this subject until the very last Brussels sprout ceases to sprout. But we have already inadvertently planted our last figurative seed, and it’s time we get around to smelling its strange fruit.
Before I am accused of any number of abominations, let me state that I have no plans on killing myself anytime soon. I still have much life to live and I can still find much to live for, and I plan on living for as long as I see fit. I’m not speaking of ‘altruistic suicide’ here, though I can see much nobility it such acts. No, this is just your ordinary quiet resignation, peace of mind, end-of-suffering variety of self death.
After having seriously contemplated the empirical reality of NTHE probably longer than anyone other than maybe a few here, I have come to realize that having an exit strategy makes living with our NTHE far more bearable after one has come to truly internalize it.
For those who have emotionally come to accept NTHE and the fate it naturally entails, inevitably come recognize that suicide is most likely the only way this ends well for anyone. But today, that is not our fate. Today, those few here at NBL are faced with having to learn how to live with the time we have left until a very perceptible fate arrives, whether it be throwing ourselves into conservation work, throwing our sabots into the gears of industry, checking off our bucket list or throwing ourselves off a bridge, it doesn’t really matter what we decide to do on this side of acceptance. It is as horrific as it is astonishing.
So let’s use Michael Ruppert as a recognizable case study. (While I was very familiar with his work, I did not personally know Mike, nor do I have any knowledge as to what was specifically going through his mind in the moments that led up to his last decision, other than what has been revealed since his death. This is pure speculation on my part.)
While I have no issue with Ruppert’s choice to take his life, my only qualm with his suicide is how he went about it. Because while many of us, out of both respect for his life, along with our own discomforts with the definiteness of death, will want to treat his passing as somehow being just a personal choice one man made, and while that is true, it is far from the whole truth based on what we all know to have most likely been a major driving force behind his decision.
Our cultural scapegoat of “depression” being the driving force is way too easy of an out this time around, even though that clearly played a huge part. However, there is a far greater narrative at play than just one man taking his life. Framing Ruppert’s suicide in any remotely familiar past impression of emotional instability, is a bit of a farce at this late stage of planetary ecocide. Many of us are all too painfully aware of the same soul devouring information that helped guide his hand.
Maybe he wrote more than we are aware of that better explains the timing of his decision, but nonetheless, given how everyone was taken aback, yet not surprised, it seems like an incredibly profound opportunity was lost, because it seems like his choice was made in a state of duress and desperation when it didn’t have to be so. It just doesn’t appear that he left this life in peace — putting aside the moral debate as to whether any of us deserve to leave this life in peace.
He had obviously reached a state of mind where he no longer wanted to carry on. The issue I have with Ruppert’s suicide is that he could have come to the same conclusion, where instead of deceptively concealing it in a seemingly ignominious act, he could have chosen to embrace his death in an entirely new way, which could have been surreally aided by the dire knowledge which has only recently broken through our collective consciousness. He obviously took time to plan his last days, so why not just take a little while longer, and plan a little more.
If there is one silver lining concerning NTHE, it is how readily we’re going to be able to approach death differently.
Had he been able to discover a way to move pass the loneliness, grief and despair so commonly associated with the choice to end one’s life, and recognized that it’s impossible for our NTHE to completely alter the meaning of our life, without equally altering the meaning of our death, he could have allowed those he cared about the ability to be present with him. He could have just said “I’m tired of fighting and it’s time to take my dirt nap, and anyone who has a problem with that … well tough shit.” His death could have avoided being a shocking violent bloody shot to the head, and been far more an act of peaceful resignation, which I’m sure at one time he must have at least considered. Haven’t most of us, at one time or another?
So why not a serene letting go that would have helped pave the way for all those who are surely going take a similar path when our time comes?
There is absolutely no reason to fear death. It’s just our selfish egos that can’t let go of the anticipation of a life yet lived. However, once one truly accepts NTHE, they have already involuntarily accepted the death of not only their ego, but all of life which renders the actual end of our individual lives even less significant. There is absolutely no reason why the decision for someone to take their life — for whatever reason — can’t actually be considered a commemorate act, especially now. Especially now!
So let’s use Ruppert’s life and death as a keen teachable experience for us to explore an entirely new reality, which yet again is clearly on all of our minds to a degree it has never been before.
Let’s look at how Ruppert could have still ended up just as dead as he is now, but rather than having pulled the trigger alone most likely consumed in doubt and despair, he could have chosen to take a different path, whereby continuing to be a medium and gone out in a far more exceptional way. Because I’ll be direct, while I completely support Mike’s decision to take his life, his suicide was a total waste of everyone’s time and energy, not because it was a betrayal to the rest of us, but because he betrayed himself by how we went about it … and yes, that’s painful to admit.
Let’s imagine Mike had finally decided enough was enough, and just no longer wanted to be alive, which was obviously the case. He wouldn’t have needed to explain his reason to anyone, unless he wanted to. It’s not like he was short of reasons. It’s not like he really had to even explain these reasons to probably anyone close to him. I’m sure most everyone he knew, was/is fully aware of why someone would choose to end their life, even if the whole concept of suicide was difficult for those close to him to accept, or was something they just ethically disagreed with.
He had already more than laid out the equation for everyone to add up for themselves. All that was left, if he wanted, was to explain why he had finally decided to let go at this particular moment. And that reason could have been nothing more than just not caring to care anymore, or that his health had faded, or that he was financially destitute and was sick of the futility of having to make a living, or his past had finally caught up to him, or he didn’t want to live with the growing despair anymore. The reason(s) could have been anything. The choice was his and his alone to make. And if it wasn’t a rational decision at the time, then it may have been avoided if he was able to openly talk himself through it. Who knows?
All he had to do was own it. That’s it.
The entire concept of shame is wholly subjective and is easily dispelled. We would think no less of him, but it would have given those closest to him the chance to say goodbye and speak their peace, and avoid the bitter lasting regret that suicide almost always leaves behind. He could have removed all doubt and set an amazing precedent. The reasons behind his decision would still be the same, but the major difference would be having confronted a useless taboo that has yet to be reexamined in light of the unprecedented reality now upon us all.
He could have chosen to communicate his thinking on the subject in varying degrees depending on who was sitting across from him. He could have given those he loved the opportunity to be present with his death while he was still alive, and possibly achieve a level of serenity he himself may have never thought possible. The very end of his life could have been the greatest cathartic moment of his entire life, as well as those close to him.
However, his mental state prevented him from making any of those choices, wherein he only perpetuated the stigma of suicide being a desperate act, made only by those in a distressed state of mind, which is sadly what it was, and that is truly a shame because it didn’t have to be that way.
He could have thrown his own memorial ceremony and invited all his friends to come celebrate being alive, and challenged those to look at life from a perspective that can only be achieved when faced with our own mortality. Because what else is acceptance of NTHE, other than having to face the near-term mortality of all of life? He could have told everyone who chose to come, that the time for arguing and despairing about the meaning of life and death was now behind him, and it was time to seriously ponder what we are now living for, given the absence of precedence we are all now aware of. He could have challenged us to the very end, and allowed his death to continue to serve those still living awhile longer.
He and some close friends could have gotten high as hell and laughed their asses off while taking turns literally digging his own grave. He could have built a pyre, passed out a bunch of peyote and McKenna quotes, played the drums and danced until he could no longer stand and then drink a cup of hemlock tea and have everyone pass around the torch. He could have gone for a long swim or just an epic walk into the desert after a tearful round of long hugs and even longer kisses. There are many peaceful ways one can end their life, if they allow themselves to consider it.
But he did none of these things. Instead he stained his life’s work with the knowledge and lasting memory that he left this life in the same quiet desperation that he lived, and that is truly tragic because it stole from him the very higher consciousness in which he sought to aspire later in life.
While it is hard for us to accept, nonetheless, a horrific death is coming for us all my friends. We can continue to avoid talking about it in any detail out of fear of the depression and despondency it naturally provokes, or we can look it straight in the eye and somberly plan today on how we might have a good last laugh whenever we decide that fateful day has finally arrived.
I have spent most of my life stuck somewhere between anger and grief for all that has been lost and what might have been if only … I have never not fought against the system, but I can no longer argue against myself, in spite of myself out of guilt and shame for having to accept all has been lost. I can’t honestly allow a once-revered moral imperative to continue to dictate what I can’t accept.
This is the tragic chapter we now find ourselves, not still lost in all the past dismal chapters that led us here. There is nothing I would wish for more than to continue to believe as I always have that my little actions somehow make a difference. But I full well know that the best thing for the rest of life on earth, including the human race, would have never to have been born in the first place.
I have deliberately chosen not to have children, and that reason honestly isn’t all that different from my opinion on the merits of suicide. The two stem from the same basic understanding. To have accepted that humanity can’t ecologically continue to bring more souls into existence isn’t all that different from accepting those already born probably shouldn’t have been. The ethical choice not to create life isn’t all that different from ending our own.
I would be utterly out of my mind, which I most likely am, to suggest that suicide could somehow be considered life-affirming, but in context to our NTHE, in my opinion, that is exactly what it is.
Once we let go of the fear of death, everything else we know we must eventually let go of, simply starts to fall away on its own. We can go out with a bang or a whimper. We can be left as nothing but a pile of ashes, or we can make sure our body is never found. We can be holding hands as we draw our last breath together, or we can watch the sun set quietly sitting alone knowing it’s our last.
The choice is only ours to make. There are so many other fulfilling ways of looking at our last days on earth than just mourning what we now consider to be inevitable. The life we have now is limited, let us be done with the stigma of suicide and see it as the most likely solution for avoiding needless suffering and start to see it as the sacred act it’s always been.
With that said, let us revel in the peace that Ruppert has now found and truly respect the choice that he made. He was an incredibly inspiring fucked-up human being who had profoundly touched more than his share of lives in any one lifetime. He strove to make this world a better place. Yes, he failed, but then again, so did we.
Let others hold onto the bitter end for whatever reason they feel they must, it makes no difference either way. We’re all just living with different stories in our heads as we circle eternity, where some of us just gravitate towards those here, who share a common unbearable insight and take what solace can be found in the digital commiseration that remains.
We few here, the stragglers on the beach of doom have been washed up like the sand and plastic itself, these days aren’t the headwaters of past generations, as with all things, they have long passed us by. We can’t pretend to live as if the day matters, while living in fear of the financial destitution and death that await. Exercise the stigma of suicide so as to embrace the quietude of the resignation that comes to fill the void, and get on with truly living in the phenomenal time left us.
Going Dark was reviewed recently by Anne Pyterek at Blue Bus Books. Check it out here.