Friday, June 22, 2012

The happy people's pamphlet

Little, considering the gravity of the question,
has been written on the subject of suicide;
it has not been studied.
Perhaps it is a disease that cannot be observed.
Suicide is one effect of a sentiment
which we will call self-esteem, if you will,
to prevent confusion by using the word "honor."
When a man despises himself,
and sees that others despise him,
when real life fails to fulfil his hopes,
then comes the moment when he takes his life,
and thereby does homage to society -
- shorn of his virtues or his splendor,
he does not care to face his fellows.
Among atheists -
- Christians being without the question of suicide -
- among atheists, whatever may be said to the contrary,
none but a base coward can take up a dishonored life.

There are three kinds of suicide -
- the first is only the last and acute stage of a long illness,
and this kind belongs distinctly to pathology;
- the second is the suicide of despair;
- and the third the suicide based on logical argument.
Despair and deductive reasoning are curable;
it is only the pathological suicide that is inevitable.
Not infrequently you find all three causes combined,
what is of course fatal too. 
(Honoré de Balzac, La Comédie humaine )

(art by Ash Sivils)

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