Thursday, April 30, 2015


We all know that we’re more than we appear to be; more not only than what we appear to be to others, but more than what we appear to be to ourselves. 

We all know that every individual is a member of a community, whether that individual is a single cell in a multicelled organism or a single star in a galaxy of stars.

No one member of a community can know every other member as well as it knows itself, therefore no one member can know its community as well as it knows itself. Therefore no individual can know itself completely because it is, in addition to being its individual self, a member of its community.

Each individual, in addition to being a member of a community, is itself a community. The individual multicelled organism is a community of cells, and the individual galaxy is a community of stars. But although the individual is usually aware of the community to which it belongs, it is usually no more aware of the individual parts of which it is itself composed than a multicelled organism is aware of the individual cells of which it is composed.     

This is what philosophers call a priori knowledge. Everything else we learn, whether we call it religion or science, assumes this. But is it true? Or is it only the way in which we, being who and what we are, see the truth?

It seemed true for us, for a long time. But no longer. Now we tell ourselves we’re only individuals and nothing more, afraid of discovering/remembering what more we might be.

People used to take comfort in the knowledge that we're more than we appear to be, are part of something greater than our individual selves. They gave a name to that greater self and aspired to live in harmony with it. Some even worshipped it. They tried to love each other as they loved it and believed it loved them in return. But no longer.

As they learned more about the world and themselves, people realized they'd done, and were still doing, terrible things. They stopped believing in their gods not because science discredited religion, but because they couldn’t imagine even a god could be capable of forgiving such crimes as theirs. 

Some people claim to still believe in a god, but theirs is a god of vengeance, not love. They‘re appalled not only by what they’ve done, but the fact that they're still doing it, unable to stop themselves. They’re incapable of repentance and therefore of redemption.

They've learned much, but not enough. Enough to destroy themselves, but not enough to save themselves.

Saturday, April 25, 2015


They say consciousness is an island in the sea of the unconscious. If we are to know ourselves, we must learn to swim in that sea.

They say we dream every night, but don’t always remember our dreams. Or rather, we choose not to remember them. I used to remember my dreams in vivid detail, especially when I dreamed of her. 

I used to think I knew myself better than most people do, because I didn’t deceive myself that my conscious mind was all of me. My dreams helped me to know myself, and kept me honest. Now that I no longer remember my dreams, I no longer know myself. 

She was so much a part of who I was that I couldn’t imagine myself without her. So I tried to kill myself. My body didn’t die, as hers did, but my mind began dying. I could feel my prefrontal cortex going numb.

I’m now dead in every way that matters. 

I’m willing myself to die because I don’t want to live without her. But Is there still a part of me that wants to live, even without her? And if there is, am I now so close to death that it no longer matters what I want?

Monday, April 20, 2015


The latest issue of the NYRB contains an article by frequent contributor Oliver Sacks. He says he’s dying of cancer. I found this a curious coincidence. The latest issue of the LRB, the NYRB’s sister publication, contains an article by frequent contributor Jenny Diski, who’s also dying of cancer. 

Diski’s been writing a series of articles, which she calls her ‘cancer diary’, ever since she was diagnosed last year. Apparently Sacks will not live long enough to write a ‘cancer diary’.

I could call this my ‘cancer diary’, since I’m writing it in anticipation of my death. I did have cancer, and was told it might recur.   

I should have died of cancer. Perhaps I will yet.

I told her that, if it did recur, I wasn’t going through another surgery. I’d kill myself instead. She said that, if I did, she’d kill herself, too. She didn’t want to live without me. Now she’s dead and I’m alive. 

She told me she was glad she was dying, because she didn’t want to see what was coming. The world has become unimaginably worse since she died. Worse for everyone, not only for me. 

She made it tolerable for me. I don’t like the person I’ve become without her.

Saturday, April 18, 2015


I’m nearing the end of my life, and have nothing to show for it. No family, no friends, no accomplishments on which to look back with satisfaction.

I tried to live by the Hippocratic motto Do no harm, and failed. I harmed many, and helped no one.

Is this true? No. It’s something I tell myself so that I can kill myself without regret.

After the last time I tried to kill myself, something in me said to wait and let nature take its course. I will die soon enough. And there was still enough beauty in the world to make me regret leaving it. Now something in me says I can leave the world without regret.

Is this true? There is still beauty in the world.

“I’m glad I’m dying,” she said, “because I don’t want to see what’s coming”.

There is still beauty in the world, but I don’t want to see what's coming.

Friday, April 17, 2015


I care less and less about more and more. Soon I'll care nothing about everything.