Last updated: November 24, 2010 4:36 pm
Epic suicide note a masterful work of philosophy
Slain American creates the most unlikely modern art masterpiece
BURNABY, B.C. (CUP) — On Sept. 18, Mitchell Heisman blew his brains out with a revolver on the steps of Harvard Memorial Church in front of a tour group of 30 people.
While not noteworthy in and of itself, suicides on college campuses not being totally unheard of, what is noteworthy about Mitchell Heisman is the 1,905-page suicide note he emailed to over 400 people in the hours before his exit.
When I first found out about Heisman and his epic suicide note, my reaction was probably the same as the one you are feeling write now: A knee-jerk desire to write off the situation as a depressing example of an attention seeking blowhard attempting to chisel a place in history by releasing a diatribe against injustices both perceived and real that the world had foisted upon him. Then I started reading it.
Suicide Note is a masterpiece of modern philosophy and a brilliant application of socio-biological theory to politics. I have read 400 pages of it so far, and have been unable to put it down.
The book is a magnificently written, unbelievably well researched, poignant and thought-provoking work that confirms that philosophy is still alive in the 21st century. Chapters of the book have intriguing titles like "God is Technology" and "The Seditious Genius of the Spiritual Penis of Jesus."
I do not agree with his final thesis regarding the embrace of nihilism and the rejection of hope. However, the work contains what is probably the most brilliant synthesis of the technological singularity theory, a scathing critique of modern liberalism, and what is probably the most original theory regarding the roots of the American Civil War.
Written in a mood that ranges from the sardonic to the whimsical, the spirit and personality of the author, made inscrutable by the fashion in which he publicized the work, shines through on every page.
One must admire his sense of humor when he writes: “It is highly unlikely that I will have the opportunity to defend this work.” As a work of modern philosophy, its importance and value should not be understated. Yet the book has, as the author predicted, been repressed. Not by the censor of the mainstream media, but by that supposed paragon of liberal exercise, Wikipedia.
If one types Mitchell Heisman’s name into Wikipedia, you will be unable to find a page dealing with him. The page has been deleted. Digging a little further, one can find the talk page housing the debate over the article’s notability and appropriateness.
The debate, such as it is, focuses on whether or not Wikipedia is a “news service.” Oddly enough, the majority of people on the talk page all argue for the article to be kept up, as an event notable enough to be covered by The Huffington Post and The New York Post is obviously notable enough for Wikipedia.
Though there are reams of information available on Wikipedia dealing with someone like Budd Dwyer, who killed himself in a similarly public manner, there is not one word dealing with a man who may well have written one of the most important books of the 21st century.
Now I know what you’re thinking: “So what? The guy blew his brains out, wanted his book to get out, and now you’re proving his freedom of speech hypothesis wrong by writing about him in a public forum.” And you’d be right.
What I find most interesting about the response to the work is that no one appears to have actually read it, and that people have been only so eager to post links to the downloadable version and say, “There, Mitch, up yours you arrogant bastard! Your book isn’t being repressed!”
But the very act of implying that anyone who would give air to this work would be a fool is in itself an act of repression, a confirmation of the initial freedom of speech hypothesis. Interestingly enough, Heisman’s story confirms Friedrich Nietchze’s prediction that at some time in the future, a philosophy of nihilism would come about which would be required before what Nietchze called the “Revaluation of All Values.”
At the very least, Mitchell Heisman makes for an interesting and curious case. While it's not exactly the lost work of David Foster Wallace, Suicide Note is a compelling masterwork that deserves scrutiny and voice.