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Support for on being with Krista Tippett comes from the Fetzer Institute, helping build the spiritual foundation for a loving world, Fetzer envisions a world that embraces love as a guiding principle and animating force for our lives, a powerful love that helps us live in sacred relationship with ourselves, others and the natural world. Learn more by visiting Fetzer, dawg. I'm Krista Tippett. Up next, my unedited conversation with philosopher, poet and historian Jennifer Michael Hecht on the courage to stay alive.

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There is, as always, a shorter produced version of this, wherever you found this podcast. Hey, Jennifer, can you hear me? It's so great to hear your voice again. So when was that?

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A long. It was early in the life of the show. When when did your book come out? Doubt the 2003. Yeah. Gosh, that was that was like the first year for us. Really? Yeah.

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It's lovely because it was definitely one of my first big interviews. Yeah. 10 years. 11 years ago. Yeah. Oh I can't believe it was that long ago anyway. I'm so glad we're talking again.

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Yes, sure. Chris, what do you need from us in terms of levels. Hey, Paul, can you hear me? Probably somewhere he's coming, he's just at my door at Aagot, right? OK. OK. Oh, and while I was in office. Yeah.

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So while I was already here, I got the message about the poetry, but I found two poems that are appropriate online right here.

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Oh great. I'm so glad. And also Lily said you have a new book of poetry coming out that just came out in November. Yeah. OK, so we'll we'll put in it.

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Well, we'll mention that and I would love it. And I will probably just at the end, I'll ask you to read those poems unless you feel inspired at some point in the interview to read them, chef.

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OK, so Christine, what we had for breakfast.

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No, we are ready, OK? We don't have to have any any mundane conversation.

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We can we can delve into this one mundane subject. That's right.

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I, I can't remember if I asked you this when I talked to you before. This is just become a stock question for me. I ask everybody this question to begin, which is, was there a spiritual or religious background to your childhood? I yes, there was my father was a Jewish atheist physicist is that's a great tradition.

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That's a great lineage. It really is. Yeah.

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And my mom believed in Judaism and the Jewish God, and she was in charge of our spirituality until at ten I decided, no, this is not true.

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Okay.

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But I did all the stuff before I went to temple more than your your average bear. Yeah.

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And then I wonder, as you got into this subject of suicide, is are there are there early associations for you with suicide or anything that even just came to you as you were writing this book?

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Well, yeah, I you know, I've I've lived with suicidal thoughts at times. So it's very it's all very keen to me.

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I don't think you really you don't really talk about that in the book, do you? Not in the book.

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But I talk about in the preface. I talk about my own dark times. Yeah. And now in the you know, discussing with people afterwards, it's just seemed more relevant to talk about my own. But I you know, it's still not. Yeah.

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In the recent article I wrote, I talked more about it than ever before. Yeah.

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Um, OK. And then and then it seems like you really became mobilized to to pick this up and worry with it and and think about it and think about it historically after not not just one, but two players, young women, fellow poets and friends killed themselves in a short period of time.

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That's right. We we had all been up at Columbia getting our PhDs at the same time them in literature and in history, history of science. And but we were all poets. And so we knew each other then and and then, you know, to varying degrees saw each other across the ten or whatever years that followed just because we were poets go to conferences and stuff and parties and see each other everywhere. But when the first friend did it, I had just started to come out of a very dark period myself.

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And then, uh, I thought a lot about it. I actually wrote a poem about it that that got a lot of play. People passed it around a bunch. It just came out in my new book, my new poetry book. But that was the first thing. And then when when the second friend did it, who was also friends with the first Rachel.

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Rachel. Yeah. And Rachel Whetstone and I yeah.

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I wrote something on the Internet not thinking I was really talking to more than a few other poets, but yeah, it got around to and that's when I started to think very seriously because I was getting emails from people who were saying that these very little things I'd done had helped them tremendously. And so it was really, you know, then it was a mission. I had to I had to track down. I'm a historian and I read a great deal of philosophy through history.

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So I had these impulses of ideas, but I really had to search them down and find out the nuances. And that did bring more information.

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But I also want to add look, I I'm someone who speaks to people about living a deep, meaningful life without a definite spiritual guideline.

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And that made me a very attentive, attentive to this when I was feeling at my worst, I. I very much appreciated reading.

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Mary Karr's lit. You know, she starts out, she's an atheist, she's an alcoholic. She's depressed, very depressed.

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And eventually AA convinces her to get the higher power and then her son becomes interested in Catholicism and she's a Catholic by the end. And and that wasn't helping me at all. And and so I was really thinking, you know, what can a person do when they're at their absolute wits end but they can't fall down on their knees and pray? It doesn't work for them. It's for them. It's like talking to your hand. It just isn't helpful.

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Yeah.

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And and you say that and and but and it's not a but it's an end. Interestingly, you know what what you have been doing in your in your reflection on this is actually pulling the lens back to think about the human and humane context of suicide.

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Yes, which is life, which is a commitment to life. Yes, and also very specifically to other human being. Right? Right.

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It's a communal grounding for an argument against suicide, just essentially that we need each other.

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Yeah. And that if you deserve your future, self deserves some respect. At least just don't kill them.

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Right. Let's see. Let's see what he brings. But the more the communitarian is what struck me first. And that was very much like I was sitting alone in my room thinking this out. And when Rachel did it to I. I felt so much pain, even though we were not super close. Yeah, that that I I was thinking in terms of how much you hurt other people when you do this. And so I shouldn't do it. And within seconds, I was on the other side of that, seeing that if I'm so important, if I could hurt people so much by doing this, that means if I stay, even if I get nothing done, even if I'm crying and useless, I'm doing something.

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I'm making a contribution, a real contribution. When you when I when I started looking at the statistics and I've now read a tremendous number of studies and statistics, there's no question you you the damage that is done to other people, but even suicidal influence into the grave people.

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I mean, we can start with with families when the parent of a parent of of children under 18 kills him or herself, those children's suicide rate goes up double in some some studies and triple in some studies. Yeah, there's no question that these these kids are likely more likely to kill themselves. And I don't think any parent really has that fully laid out in their mind. Indeed, I've gotten letters from people saying, I don't know why I didn't see this.

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I guess I knew all the pieces, but I didn't put them together. But it certainly made me feel more part of humanity. We're trained and raised to feel very individualistic, but it's not true. You're right. We gain and lose weight together. We smoke and stop together. We have a third child together. We're really in each other's worlds.

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And you point out, as you do so well with your large sense of history and philosophy, that that the history of Western religion and philosophy is, among many other things, one long dialogue on the propriety of taking your own life.

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I mean, I find this so helpful in your book, how you how you pull the lens back very far and and look at how we as human beings, as a species and as a culture have been grappling with this and the kind of drama there's that there's a trajectory there. Right. There's a there's a back and forth and a development. So let's let's talk about that. Tell some of that story.

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Well, let's you real quick, simple version, which is that the ancient world had a certain amount of ambivalence about suicide. They lauded some famous suicides.

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But but the their literature, Socrates said don't do it. Plato said don't do it all for community. Aristotle said, don't do it. It's it's a Seneca and Seneca and Socrates both thought of as famous suicides.

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But Socrates said, don't do it. But he did it. But he did it.

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But they were compelled by government. So it was in that very room where he was drinking about to drink the hemlock that he told his people. You can't everyone has to stay for each other unless you're compelled in the way I am.

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One of the poems I wrote about this subject, though, was actually asking Socrates if it was really the best choice in some ways. But but Seneca also was he he killed himself when Nero, the Emperor Nero, commanded him to. So it's not really what we today would think of as suicide. But Seneca wrote beautifully against suicide.

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He said at one point that he was great about depression, too. He wrote he wrote about depression. I have it in the book that in ways that I found just so charming, it was really, you know, life is really hard.

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And he talked about it in really interesting ways.

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But then there's another passage where he says he'd like to kill himself, but his instead of being courage from him, it would it would take away courage from his aging father.

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And so and so he says sometimes to live is an act of courage. And that's been quoted many times, that last little line. And so what really happens is that, well, it's very hard for me to give short versions.

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No, no, that's a guy. Yeah, there's that there is that that connection with the other. Right. So, oh, Lucretia is is a figure who you pull out and you kind of pull the thread through.

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So to talk about that threat, what that what that symbolizes for you and kind of captures.

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Well, Lucretia story is fascinating. She's she's an ancient Roman woman before the Roman Republic. It's archaic. And and there's Rome is still being run by the Etruscans and in a kingship and a Tuscan prince, um, kind of rapes Lucretia, but sort of talks to her and says, look, either we ruin your.

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Taken by you refusing me and I kill you and I kill a male servant, put your bodies together and tell everyone that I caught you adulterous and killed you, which not only kills you, it kills your reputation, which to Lucretia was more important.

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And so she gave in and was with them. But as soon as he assumed should keep the secret because it ruined her reputation. Instead, she she gathered her menfolk of family and friends and in front of them told them what happened and then stabbed herself and then held up the knife and said, swear by this dagger that you will create a Roman Republic, that you'll overthrow these foreign princesses, princes, and not even establish the kind of government that could could get away with this that has such a royal privileged class.

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And so they did. So this was the founding Roman story, still being told, you know, 500 years later. And then at the very end of the Roman Republic, it's not just the found, it's the founding Roman.

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It's not the founding Roman suicide. It's the fact the founding Roman suicide, a story which revolves around. That's right. That's right.

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It's the foundation of Rome. Yeah. And the reason it was so persuasive and useful was that this was a person sacrificing themselves to the community and people saw it that. Right, right. Right. And and when you have a community that's based on certain kinds of they didn't have the same kind of developed legal system. They didn't have the same kind of developed ways of running things and keeping everybody honest. So your name meant so much back then and your family's name and your your city state's name, that that was what everybody went on reputation.

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And she gave her life for the group's reputation. And that's something that doesn't come up so much in modern life and modern life. The family is usually desperate for the person to not do it. All right. And so it's a very it's a very big change. And what's important is to note that the ancient world could, in certain sacrifice for the community cases, they could appreciate this kind of gesture. But, you know, many scholars have seen Jesus as a suicide.

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It says in John that he he no one takes his life. No one takes my life.

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Jesus, this is how it is that says no one takes my life. I lay it down myself and there happens.

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I see that in that in that same sphere of a willing sacrifice on behalf of something greater. Yes.

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And you add to it the martyrs people have suggested I'm not the first to suggest that the the martyrs were sort of a suicide cluster that they had witnessed.

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They saw it as a way to proceed and and felt bereft of him and were depressed. And the martyr problem was was huge. And then once Constantine makes Christianity no longer illegal in 313, there's no point in it anymore for the church. The church is just getting to be more than a bunch of scattered little groups.

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It's but the church doesn't want to lose members anymore and it's not illegal. So it doesn't make any sense anymore. But people kept doing it. It was part of that culture.

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And by now, of course, they're doing it mostly by themselves.

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They're killing themselves to be a martyr for this religion. And the church starts having at almost every council they have in the, you know, 300, 400, 500 hundreds.

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All these councils add notions of if you kill yourself and say it's piety, you're going to be excommunicated.

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If you're among the the lists of martyrs and you did it with by your own hand, you're struck from the list. You're no longer there. This is no way to get on the list of martyrs. They really try hard to stop it. And the snowball just rolls and they get really draconian so that they're torturing the corpses by by 500, 600 A.D. They're torturing the corpses. They're there.

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It's a punishment after death, right? That's right. And they even confiscate the the person's estate. So the family goes destitute in lots of cases.

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So this is really and you paraded through the streets, naked the corpses and left out to be eaten by dogs.

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It's enough to make you say, OK, this should really be resisted. And I think that did some good, though.

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It was horrible. It was preventative. It was.

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And we have records that make that clear of people discussing their thinking and very often also discussing the tug between God and the devil. And the devil was by the late Middle Ages, very much associated with suicide. And Luther and Calvin keep this up, too.

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They they look at the problem and they say, this is the devil. We still have to punish people for giving in to him.

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And I think. The point you make, I mean, what you're saying is is provocative, you know, it's actually very logical in a rational, reasonable, but but it's not something you hear people talking about and naming. I think, you know, what came down then into the Christian West eventually was was not not these kinds of displays of punishment, but but a sense that this is wrong, that God forbids it. And I think another provocative point you make is that that that as the only reason not to commit suicide was actually kind of dehumanizing that you're right.

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What's your what's important?

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Well, there are lots of ways of looking at it. But but the key bit for me is that the Enlightenment saw it as a clear goal to stop the church being involved in this. Right. And to argue against that God was so concerned with your your particular details and what you did. And and also just saying, you know, the church doesn't have any business in this.

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And then in reaction, enlightenment ends up kind of christening it as a form of moral freedom. That's right.

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And saying it's sort of one of the key pillars of our autonomy that we have the right to end all this. And it really just kind of spread. And we think of it as as the whole sort of secular world holding these views.

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But we also think of Camu as being a figure. Yes. In that. But when you actually go back and read The Myth of Sisyphus, Camu definitely starts. The thing with there is only one philosophical question and that suicide first decide that. And, you know, he said he's somewhere no one ever died because of the ontological question there. This is a life and death thing and you have to decide it before you do anything else. But that invitation is very misleading because he goes through the whole book arguing against suicide.

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Right. He says life is absurd. There's no there's no doubt out a reason that you have to, but that suicide is the wrong step, that life is worth living. This absurd, strange thing should be witnessed. And it's vital that you essentially have some respect for your future self. Who's going to know things you don't know yet?

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You say that his his approach, his spirit is sorrowful but cheerful.

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Yeah, exactly. Where Asaka can really be sorrowful and and sort of brutally negative. Right. Most people don't follow that anymore. It was too much.

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I mean, I have to say that this Cummo example that you give is very striking. I mean, I'm one of I think many people who in my 20s somewhere or when this was assigned to me in college, read that first line of the myth of Sisyphus.

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There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question. But I don't think that I either got to the end or really took in. What you're saying was really that the whole sweep of his argument. You know, it's interesting. I interviewed Brian Greene recently and and he he brought up Camu and the Myth of Sisyphus. And, you know, here is a brilliant person.

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But I think the way he internalized that is the way most of us internalized it, though I will say that when I give talks, the only consistent book that people come up to me and say this helped me is Camus this. So if they read it, it helps them save their lives. They tell me over and over. That's remarkable. And the idea that life is is horrible but absurd and that we can embrace the weird side and stop trying to make everything right and reasonable to stop trying to dot all the I's or make it seem fair, but embrace the absurd and be interested in the future.

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And imagine Sisyphus happy. That's what they get when they really read it.

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So I want to come back to this.

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Let's just say, you know, now kind of 20 years, 20th, 21st century, there's something that's alive and well, which is a bit reflected in that Lucretia example you gave. Yeah. And, you know, even the example of Jesus, there's there's an aura of or at least a possibility of nobility, you know, even kind of romance in a dark way.

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If you just start there's there's a noble lineage also, if nothing else. Right? I mean, it's Socrates, it's Sylvia Plath, it's Virginia Woolf, it's Ernest Hemingway. It's Gerta, you know, Young Vater. It's Marilyn Monroe. David Foster, I guess.

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But I have difficulties with all of those. I mean, Sylvia Plath's son, who is in the other room, and she did it 40 years later, kills him.

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So I learned that first from from you. I didn't know that. But, you know, and it's. Not that there's anything there's not poetry world, no. What did they knew did. Do they know? But you know, the thing about Sylvia Plath example, it's not like it's a happy thing. It's not like you look at that and say how romantic. But but this list of people I just read and and the list is much longer of, you know, it's it's amazing.

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Brilliant lives, right?

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Yeah. But it's also I understand and I'll come back to that. But I want to just add that when England changed the gas ovens so that you didn't just open the the door and gas came out, the suicide rate dropped just as when England very recently in the 90s, the UK stopped selling acetaminophen in bulk and started selling it only six at a time and in bubble wrap. So, you know, you could go out to a bunch of different stores and and sit there and undo the bubble wrap.

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But guess what? It went away. Obviously, the suicide rate is is high, but this kind of these they would show someone take acetaminophen on some television show to die. And there would be this huge spike in the behavior. And now that that doesn't happen. So they are normal people. But I mean, they are amazing people, but they're also human. If it wasn't so easy, you know, and I thought somebody was coming over to help with the kids later.

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I mean, there are things that make us say, well, no tragedy, tragedy, not not OK. And would Sexton have done it if Plath I mean, there.

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But you're absolutely right that there's a way of thinking of this as sort of grand.

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But let's also point out that a great many people who kill themselves speak about their being a burden. They're afraid they're a burden on other people because they've been depressed a while or because they've just had a humiliating blow and they think very poorly of themselves at the moment, break up a relationship, trouble at work. But people have to know clearly and in a simple sentence, you will be your suicide will be a much greater burden, exponentially greater people may die.

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Once you see that in the stats, you certainly you sort of take back take a step back and see there's no way that this is about me sacrificing if other people might might die.

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And I've already in The Daily Beast, maybe a week or two ago, a former ranger wrote that he was using this idea. He quoted me, having been quoted by David Brooks. But he says, you know where I say that if you want your niece to live through her dark night of the soul, you have to live through yours. And he says, you know, he's he's the whole piece was about him grieving three friends and wanting to write something about it after the first two and when the third came down, feeling pretty hopeless and miserable and guilty.

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And and then he read me, tell him that that that think about the people who are still alive and don't start the cycle again. This is the sacrifice you make.

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And he actually said, I guess you have to accept help and and work out your your issues.

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I guess that's the way to help other people.

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And that's moved me so much that he saw that and and and saw it as a way to help people towards the therapy that can really help them in a deep way.

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And I've also gotten, um, there was an article by a psychiatrist, Dr Pye's, who wrote, you know, that he he he encouraged other psychiatrists and counselors of all sorts to to pitch the idea to their to their patients that there's a community, a communitarian argument that really suggests that you're of more value than you realize and you have to stay for other people.

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He worked it out and all sorts of interesting ways. You know, um, I think what what this gets at is and this is this really was with me as I was getting ready to talk to an aspect of suicide as a human phenomenon that we that we don't actually go into, which is the effect it has on those who are left behind. Yeah, right.

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And and importantly, not just family and friends who get hit very hard, but don't always repeat it. But in that and that's slightly wider area. Again, I've gotten letters, actual physical letters telling me that that that someone at quite a distance made it became they became a little obsessed with it.

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So, you know, I, I, I don't think I've ever talked about this in an interview before when. I was in my 20s, I had someone I cared about commit suicide, and it was actually somebody I had been very close to as well as someone who I had very much looked up to professionally.

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And it is you know, it's I suppose I was closer to him than maybe you were closer to these.

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Yes, I had been close to them a while back. Right. But are not but the same thing.

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I mean, at the point at which he died, we were living in different countries and. Right.

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You know, but how dislocating. You know, how it wasn't just a grief. It was it's not just another it's not just a loss or a death.

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The yeah. That that the the stages, you know, the first of all, like, total disbelief. That's like I really thought people were lying. Right. I mean, I you know, when I first I thought this is some ridiculous joke or some kind of, you know, something that somebody is making this up and then the guilt. And I and I my understanding is, if this is true and as you say, not just in those immediate circles, of course, in those immediate circles, but for me kind of, you know, outside the immediate circle.

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Yeah, incredible. Like, you know, looking back through the last phone call that we'd had, you know. Oh, yeah. How I had out of that. Right. And I had fetishized the last email. Yeah.

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I'd been dismissive of things he was complaining about that. I just, you know, he'd been complaining about for a long time. And I, I was just kind of tired of him not taking charge of it.

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Right. You know, OK. And then later and then later thinking, you know, he's just really torturing myself. Could I could I have made a difference in that phone call? And then the thing that comes that I don't think people know how to talk about, certainly the closest loved ones, the anger.

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I mean, because this sense of this of the selfishness of it.

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Right. The response a lot. Yeah. And then the guilt over the anger. That's right. Sure.

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And and this is just me in one of these circles. It's like, you know, outside the middle. So I think it must be very useful. I wonder if this is something you get in opening up the subject in the way you're doing it, which is this communal way that it creates a space to talk about this.

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Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, I mean, there are times when the person does it sort of in in protest to the family to say, you know, this is how bad it was or whatever. But they they don't think about the people in the very next level who who you know, they again, it's it's an extreme reaction.

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But lots of people die after suicide. They come in groups. I talked to some people in the army. They said it comes in groups. Right.

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So there's that then. That's really a very serious thing you are pointing out, which is absolutely documented in many ways that one of the best predictors of suicide is knowing a suicide. Right.

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But don't but don't ever forget the flip side, which is your staying alive means so much more than you really know or that anyone is aware of at this moment. But we're but we're in it together in this profound way. And you can take some strength from that. I think that's for me that's been very important. Just feel like obviously we're not individuals. How could I have thought that we were on that kind of level? And it's funny because my two arguments that you owe it to other people and they owe it to your future self are both about looking at what the individual means.

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Because when you look at a person within a group and all the trends we follow the clothes, the car, the not car, the every all these trends that we follow, you realize the extent to which we're enmeshed. And when you, uh, when you look at yourself and realize that you have fallen in and out of love with the same person, you have fought with friends thinking you'll never speak to them again and again, we have different moods that profoundly change our outlook.

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And it's not right to let your worst one murder all the others.

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Um, and I know this is I know this is something you've thought about, but, uh, well, you talked about your dark times.

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I'm also somebody who's known clinical depression. Right. It's hard.

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You know, here, you know, hears you say this is your non-religious argument against suicide. I'm just in a way is a paraphrasing what you just said. I so I want to say this and forgive me the strangeness of it. This was from that original article you wrote. Don't kill yourself. Life has. Always been almost too hard to bear for a lot of people a lot of the time, but it's very hard to argue with depression.

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It is, but it is possible. It is possible. I think if the message you are sending yourself is this is not how I always feel. Sometimes you just have to wait. And because even when you're terribly depressed, you're not actually actively suicidal all that time, that comes and goes even in the worst. And you just have to you know, it's a great idea to write yourself a note saying I am happy right now despite previous depressions. Please do not do anything to inhibit this from happening again and go read it when you're down there it is in your handwriting.

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Someone actually wrote that to me when they were telling me how much they had helped them. They told me this little trick that they used that thought it was brilliant.

[00:34:05]

You know, remind your mood that the other mood exists because depression is particularly like one of its definitions is that within depression, you can't see that you've ever not been depressed.

[00:34:18]

Right. You can't see beyond it. Right. Can't see outside it. You can't imagine outside it.

[00:34:24]

No, you can't. But if you put it in your head beforehand, it can help.

[00:34:28]

I mean, look, we all sometimes feel a sort of fleeting homicidal thought, right, when someone is just being incredibly frustrating or ruining everything or whatever, and you just think, I wish they were gone.

[00:34:41]

I've never you don't have to even think about it. Right.

[00:34:45]

Because, you know, you're right. OK, yeah. I know that murder is out of the question. And and I think that with a little bit of thought, suicide can equally be out of the question. We have tons of stats that say people go to the, you know, the Golden Gate Bridge.

[00:35:00]

You can usually call that suicide magnet. It is.

[00:35:04]

But if you go to a bridge that has the fence up, a suicide fence up, the people just go home. They don't go to another bridge. They usually survive it. We have actual stats on this.

[00:35:16]

So what do you what is that what I said? That it's impulsive, that it's tremendously impulsive, and that if you can get past the impulse and if you can put a conceptual barrier in your head, that it can be it can work in the same way that that chain link fence can. You just you've put up a barrier.

[00:35:32]

You've talked to yourself about this.

[00:35:34]

You've decided that it's it's not what a good person does and that you will feel better and don't argue with yourself and then feel terrible or go get help or jeez, playing a video game sometimes takes my mind off misery. You know, there's ways to get through the worst.

[00:35:53]

And really when I'm starting out, what I'm starting out with is really just the idea of, yeah, sometimes life for some of us can be unbelievably painful, but don't do this one thing.

[00:36:05]

And ah, but I've since like by that, that ex ranger, you know, he said no you, you, you didn't say no because he was following my logic, but he said you not only have to get through it, you have a responsibility to take care of yourself.

[00:36:23]

Your your wellbeing is important to other people and it's not, you know, a lot of soldiers in the military suicide crisis is terrible. You know, they like that more.

[00:36:35]

Is is this right that more more military personnel are dying by suicide than dying in battle in these recent years, 2012?

[00:36:43]

That was clear and shock to everybody. Yeah. Yeah. And and they well, you go well, also here, here's one here's one way you say this.

[00:36:53]

None of us and this is very simple, but I find this very striking statement. None of us can truly know what we mean to other people and none of us can know what our future self will experience. But I think that the specter of suicide alongside the specter of military suicide that's most present now is teenage suicide.

[00:37:14]

Right.

[00:37:14]

And yeah, and that used to be fueled also somehow by the Internet. And and and that is a time when people are, you know, even more susceptible to this way. We are. Which you describe, which is is being part of a group and being very influenced by those around us. But also it's a time of life when, you know, somebody can say this very reasonable thing. You can't truly know what you mean to other people and you can't know what your future self will experience.

[00:37:49]

But that's a time of life. That's when you are inside this bubble that you can't see or imagine beyond you.

[00:37:56]

How do you think about this way? You want us to consider this with that in front of me?

[00:38:01]

Sometimes I do find a way to work in that. Your prefrontal cortex. Hex isn't finished until you're twenty five and and that grown ups would certainly love to have more prefrontal cortex, it helps you get what you want and it's the executive functioning. So people who are under 25 have a lot to look forward to if they can hold out a little longer for them.

[00:38:25]

I guess I lead with the future self. Hang in there and let's see what you can do.

[00:38:30]

And we don't know. We really don't know. The people who are doing fantastically right now may not be later and you may be doing great. You really have to look at that side of it when you're when you're young. But it's also true that they sometimes have experienced suicide and feel shame and guilt. And the easiest way to get them to feel better is to notice that they do have some control over future such experiences by by making sure not to start the cycle again.

[00:39:00]

And and they they're a population that, you know, in many cases their lives are being sort of run from outside, either because they're in the army or the college or high school.

[00:39:13]

And so we really have to dedicate ourselves to looking sharp on this. It's not fair to have so much control over people's lives and finding them in this way. I will mention also that this skyrocketing suicide, which we see in this country, which is true across so many groups, the boomers are killing themselves. It's a real spike. And and college students and military to all these really high spikes and middle aged or slightly older women. There's a real a real crisis here.

[00:39:50]

And, um, what if what if it's not some profound cultural thing, but it's suicide rates going up and down. There are studies that make it seem certainly that that in the 1950s our suicide rate was lower and that it was it was at its lowest in 2000 and it's been going up since then. And if this is just a cycle, should we let all the people in the second half of the cycle die of suicide bubble?

[00:40:22]

I mean, can't we step up and say no to that?

[00:40:26]

Right. I think that's the question. What so what can we do? I mean, you're making this kind of really communal plea. So how do you see that being? How do you see that working its way out?

[00:40:39]

Well, I guess one thing is to really make sure people see that this is a rising trend. And if they don't want to die by trend, they can they can look at it critically and say, you know, I'm not going to let this environment do this to me. And, you know, what can I do other than offer these things which I've found helpful and and the things that most people have most said back to me that they find helpful.

[00:41:11]

If this is you know, it's funny, sometimes people argue with me.

[00:41:15]

A lot of times people argue with me that suicide is a right. It's a right.

[00:41:18]

And and I say, you know, is it right for a teenager to do this now is right for a parent of a young child to do it now. So who is this guy who doesn't have anybody who loves him a lot or or those people are perfectly fine with his decision and he's of sound mind and he decides he want you know, this is a very rare person and we can discuss him further. But first, you know, you need to find me more than one or two of them in in the last century.

[00:41:50]

I mean, it's not the most popular version of suicide. And and if we're going to say that this is a right over and over to people, what are we what are we giving them the right to?

[00:42:05]

It's not the right to free speech or the right to freedom. It's this is the right to die when they're not in trouble. And and, you know, I should have led with if your physician and people in your family think that it's it might be time for you to go. That seems to me a different conversation.

[00:42:24]

You're not talking about end of life now.

[00:42:27]

You know, um, so, you know, you, uh, one thing I kept thinking about when I was reading you is I'm not sure if this is completely related, but bear with me.

[00:42:42]

Um, you know, Anthony Appiah is a philosopher at Princeton, right.

[00:42:46]

I cite him in the book. Oh, OK. And he's done a lot of work on how moral change happens. And it's really it's it's often a reversal of something that is considered to be noble, which is interesting. Right. It's like headed foot binding in China. How did slavery end as a fundament of the British Empire? How did Dooling and as an honorable way for gentlemen to resolve this. Butte's and it seems to me that you are making a you're you're wanting to start a similar kind of moral deliberation about suicide, it it's you're you're relieving it from the way this was discussed morally in previous generations.

[00:43:25]

But you're you're saying that not only does this not can we should it not be imagined as noble or romantic in any way or thinkable, really? But you're actually saying we need to make suicide resistance part of our culture. And I mean, this is somewhere you actually said that attach a sense of honor to perseverance. Mm hmm. Exactly.

[00:43:50]

This, you know, Appiah is brilliant about honor and shame and how all those those three things that you mentioned, the Atlantic slave trade, dueling and foot binding changed in a generation because the idea of how to be a good person changed.

[00:44:04]

Right, because shame started to accrue not to that side, but to the other side, sometimes because of just contact with another culture that thinks something you're doing is barbaric.

[00:44:14]

And and, yeah, how do we the first thing we're going to do if we're going to change something that's a little barbaric in our culture is just notice it. You can't move too fast. Right. And start to notice that maybe this isn't kosher in our country today. We lose more years of life to suicide than anything.

[00:44:41]

When you're when you're under 44, suicide is the third sometimes in some some places in that that age group, sometimes the the second highest cause of death. So think about what we do in terms of trying to avoid heart disease and cancer and car accidents. And then think about what the average person who's not in suicidal trouble at the moment does to prepare against the possibility of getting depressed and thinking this way. And for our children and for our friends, this is this is an unbelievably high level killer.

[00:45:24]

Suicide's killing more college students than alcohol just as of recently, suicide killing more adult people in the general population, not just adults, but in the general population, more than car accidents for the first time in quite a while, or I don't know if in quite a while, but but certainly in the last ten years, accidents were what killed us most and and now it's suicide.

[00:45:50]

So so I think we said a minute ago is so important that you start just by naming it that that's the first step. You don't start by solving the problem. You start by seeing the problem.

[00:46:01]

And and it's something I've been watching that feels a little related to this is and even in this context of these ideas of of, you know, Anthony Appiah, about how moral change happens, how we have had this cultural awakening to bullying. Yes. Which in its way was honorable in the sense that it's happened forever and people just decided that that's the way it is and you have to buck up and take it. And it wasn't right. And it was.

[00:46:33]

And in fact, there was a power to the people who were bullies. And there was there was a victimization respect that we accepted. We accepted the victimization of the people who were unlucky enough to be bullied. And suddenly we see this as absurd. Right. That's right. And I right right now is this painful moment where you suddenly see how horrible it is and the Internet seems to have amplified and put it on display. But I think there's real moral progress happening.

[00:46:57]

And just and among teens and younger people, you know, suicide is not strictly but to some degree, you know, in a kind of overlapping universe with that. And and I just I feel like what you're saying is we need to notice this and be appalled.

[00:47:16]

Right. And in a way that we've become appalled by bullying and suddenly see that we haven't been.

[00:47:21]

It's a wonderful comparison, especially when we remind ourselves that that these bullying situations are entirely institutionally created. Right. We send these people to high school. We as a culture have designed it. We send them in and and this happens to them. How is that when we think about, you know, the British families who would send their kids off to boarding school where they knew they were going to be seriously harassed because they were when they were kids, you know what would happen?

[00:47:52]

We all live through it. You just have to get through it. And so you say, yeah, we we're sending our child to a torture chamber. Yeah, that's what we do. And and, yeah, if people are being bullied to the point of misery, we have a response. Ability to look at it, but you're absolutely right and it's a wonderful comparison. Hmm.

[00:48:10]

So so let's talk about there's a really meaty, meaty there's a really substantial, positive, positive. It's not a big enough word. There's I even want to say there's kind of a there's there's certainly a moral argument.

[00:48:27]

There's a spiritual argument by some definition that, you know, there's a way you're framing this and you invoke, you know, my morality saying, you know, he who destroys himself destroys the world.

[00:48:41]

You invoke Levinas, French Talmudic scholar, that our acts of friendship are the most real and knowable aspect of the entire universe. I mean, you the discussion you want to have is not so much against suicide, but for staying alive for each other. It's it's it's choosing life. Yeah.

[00:49:04]

And it's yeah. It's choosing living. I don't you know, I'm not taking this conversation to all these other issues because this is this has so many of its own issues that it really needs to be taken by itself.

[00:49:17]

Yeah. Choosing staying alive, choosing staying alive.

[00:49:20]

And and yes, I thought of myself as an individual before I started doing this, thinking in a way that I no longer do. And I feel better. And it doesn't really mean you have to go out and do a lot of communal things, though all sorts of studies show that will help force yourself to go be with other people is is as a good start.

[00:49:42]

But it's it's also just this internal thing where I, I notice more that that I'm part of this human thing and that there's no such thing as wasted contributions. It always goes somewhere.

[00:50:01]

And that the the messages I've heard from people from all sorts of distances away from my two particular poet friends who did this, I'm hearing that people from very far away who didn't ever know them, you know, became obsessed with the the the obituary and then read their stuff and and found themselves drawn to to to this.

[00:50:27]

And so it really is a it's a better feeling about what we are and what we're doing. And most people through history had it without trying because they lived in tiny communities that were besieged by either drought or flood or or whatever, and they had to work together to do anything.

[00:50:51]

And they were more aware of their connection to each other.

[00:50:54]

And nowadays, we're very in a way, that connection was also just forced on them. Right. It wasn't optional. It's option for us.

[00:51:01]

Yeah, it's optional. And I suggest taking that option whenever you want. But just be more aware of the ideas of the other side that that we have these all sorts of secret web like connections to each other, and that sometimes when you can't see what's important about you, other people can.

[00:51:23]

And that notion is, you know, even Augustine Augustine said you can't kill yourself because God said thou shalt not kill and that's it. You can't kill yourself either. Aquinas comes along much later and, you know, in the 12th century and says, you can't kill yourself because of what you owe the community, because what you owe yourself and the God issue. But still, the God issue is the one that that people used because it was, you know, quite fierce.

[00:51:53]

You didn't really have to think about it and argue about it.

[00:51:56]

But these other things were on on Thomas Aquinas mind.

[00:52:01]

I mean, I feel like you sound a little bit like my mind at ease when you say this is something you wrote. Rejecting suicide is a huge act within a community. I also think it changes the universe. And you wrote, either the universe is a cold, dead place with a little growth of sentience, but atomized beings each all by him or herself trying to generate meaning. Or we are in a universe that is alive with a growth of sentient beings whose members have made a pact with each other to persevere.

[00:52:33]

Yeah, that feels powerful to me, I, I feel like just the just the respect of the idea of love and meaning. Um, yeah, I'm outside of the religious tradition, but I do like rituals. And I think if you can perform any of your childhood rituals without saying anything you don't believe anymore, you should definitely do it. It helps a life make sense. But I want to add that I, I personally don't believe every person is responsible for finding their own meaning.

[00:53:08]

As so many secularists have said, I believe that the meaning is already in the culture and in the community and that sometimes you need to trust what other people are doing and trust that maybe, you know, when you're a kid, the idea that maybe someday you won't need to be the king of the world and you'll be happy to have found someone to love and you'll be overjoyed to have some children and have a job that pays for your car. You don't know that when you're a kid.

[00:53:39]

That's something that comes with growing up. You only later find out, oh, they had something there. You know, when you're a kid, you look at all the houses the same and it crushes you.

[00:53:49]

You so want to be special, but special doesn't turn out to be this huge requirement.

[00:53:55]

Later on, people find other ways to not find other ways, the chief ways to be happier, to have people you love and and meaningful work and and be loved back. That's, you know, it's it's what goes on.

[00:54:08]

And you really can say to yourself, I need to I need to see the bigger picture and be involved emotionally in the bigger picture.

[00:54:18]

But I think that also does get back to the fact that I mean, especially in the time we're living in now, there are so few givens anymore, you know, about what you will be able to get.

[00:54:32]

I mean, I think the new generations are in many probably very healthy ways having to redefine what it's going to look like to have crafted the life of meaning. Yep, right.

[00:54:43]

And I got a seven year old and a nine year old start to push them in any direction, because I'm no longer sure that a doctor or lawyer is the you know, it's just the world's topsy turvy.

[00:54:53]

Yeah. And I suspect that that's that that this complete shifting of the ground beneath our feet is probably has something to do with the boomer suicide rate as well.

[00:55:02]

But I mean, you you know, another thing that you're picking up for cultural examination in an interesting way, I think, is this idea that it's this reality base that we learn and grow through pain, that there's value in suffering and survival.

[00:55:20]

Those are not those are message.

[00:55:23]

There's messages that have been carried forward by our religious traditions to some extent, I suppose, in psychology, psychotherapy, but not I'd say our culture is in many ways sends the exact opposite message, right?

[00:55:38]

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.

[00:55:42]

I think it's it's key to think about gratitude, to feel gratitude to other people for for trying and to know that you have other people's gratitude. Indeed. Let's start with me. I'm grateful to you. Who is listening? Who feels tempted to suicide. I'm grateful that you're sticking it out for the sake of other people. And I know many people are. And and you're my hero. I know how insane it is.

[00:56:13]

And, uh, yeah, we owe each other just that. If that notion is out in the culture that there's someone somewhere who's grateful to you for making this sacrifice.

[00:56:25]

Uh, that's I think I think no one should die without knowing that the historical arguments or what the stats say. Uh, and then the ultimate decision, once you know all that is a little bit more OK, you you you make what you have to say.

[00:56:46]

What you mean what this is what the stats say about what the effect might be on the world if you do. Yes. Right. Yeah.

[00:56:52]

But remind me in one word or two what your question was.

[00:56:55]

Um, um, I have to go.

[00:56:59]

Oh, I was just saying that, um, this whole, uh, this whole idea of creating a culture, of resisting, of perseverance, um, is not about saying everything's going to be all right because that's not the way life ever works. No, but you're also honoring the tradition which which principally has been carried forward by religions, which in fact is often very much kind of countered in popular culture. You know, that life is difficult and that things will not probably ever turn out exactly the way you wanted them to accept for a.

[00:57:32]

A few minutes at a time. I mean, I'm just, you know, I guess we could go on and on, but but that suffering and survival have value in and of themselves. People don't get those messages suffering.

[00:57:41]

That's right. Yes.

[00:57:42]

The suffering the idea that that pain makes us grow and become more wise. We do not hear this, but it's it goes right through history.

[00:57:51]

So many people have said philosophers and and artists and writers and also leaders, people in major leadership roles often talk about a period of time where they were lost and that they they count that humbling experience as the reason that they can lead others. So sometimes we do have to go back to those arguments as secular people. Yeah. In this world, we're trying to kill pain wherever we can, and I applaud it. Let's try. But it's not the way life goes.

[00:58:28]

And look, 50 years ago, the the amount of money most families had was was finally people were most people were out of poverty.

[00:58:43]

But from there, as we got more money, the happiness rates have not gone up.

[00:58:49]

It makes a real difference when you go from not having enough to eat, to having enough to eat. And it doesn't make much difference after that.

[00:58:58]

But but we have to realize that things don't go straight up there.

[00:59:04]

It's a pendulum, you know, that's how it works. And we can commiserate with each other. Sure. That's a big part of what I'm saying, to just speak your truth if you possibly can, because you're going to get such warm feedback from so many places and you're going to help others. Right?

[00:59:21]

I mean, you know, when you were saying a minute ago about people need to know that someone is grateful that they're persevering, that then puts a responsibility, that awareness puts a responsibility on all of us really to think about, you know, what we what we make an effort to say and to express to other people. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:59:44]

There's you know, someone reported a crisis in ministers of suicide about a year ago. And and they were describing how these ministers were supposed to have all the answers. So up until the point they take their lives, nobody knows much about how they're feeling because they feel like it's letting down the congregation, letting down even God to say that they're this miserable.

[01:00:09]

But once that ultimate act happens, everybody finds out in the worst possible most in the worst possible, most devastating way.

[01:00:18]

Right. The only perk is that you're not there to hear it. But I'm trying to get you here beforehand. So you just ask for help. It's allowed. It's even people who give help should think of themselves as, you know, a piano that's being played a lot and they got to get it tuned up now and again. Hmm.

[01:00:37]

So you've you've made it clear that you're not talking about end of life situations.

[01:00:44]

And I wonder what else what other, like, difficult area do you find this lands with people?

[01:00:53]

I mean, they're well, they don't think you're right.

[01:00:56]

Do they think that that there's this way? Does this feel like a way of judging, you know? Oh, yeah.

[01:01:01]

Yeah, that's been there's been a little of that people saying that this blames the past suicides. I really feel like if you have never heard the argument, there's absolutely no reason to even think about that. And if you have heard the argument, you still got to find out about what you mean.

[01:01:17]

You're the idea through history that that we we will hurt each other tremendously if we do this and that there are communal reasons to stay and that, you know, how can you say that there's a burden on the people who are already gone if we haven't had this conversation yet? OK, and I'm not so much just saying mine. I'm saying all these people in history that I've been able to quote because they those arguments fell out of out of the culture with the turf war between religion and secularism.

[01:01:48]

And we have the right you know, get that pendulum coming back a little bit where we're not declaring our independence by by killing ourselves.

[01:01:57]

Um, so that's that certainly appears it's not even as big as the people who think that you can't convince a suicidal person with ideas. And to them I say, look at the suicide hotlines. They're everywhere. Do you think people would keep that up without checking that they help? Look at the the counseling and the specific diagnostic checks that people do on all these different attempts and to help people.

[01:02:27]

And they help because talking helps, because ideas help and and.

[01:02:32]

We we we certainly can't I agree that when a person is in their worst place, that's a hard time to hear anything new.

[01:02:41]

But what about talking about before it happened? Right. Just before they go over that edge. So so, Jennifer, you've written, you know, over the years where you're a poet, but, you know, your books have had these different the spectrum of topics, right? Doubt, yeah. Happiness. The end of the soul. Um, I'm just curious about how these things come together in your imagination. How does suicide then flow in with that spectrum?

[01:03:12]

And how does how does how does that come together for you, these big ideas you've looked at?

[01:03:18]

Yeah, they come together in a lot of ways I. Well, for one thing, I am just fascinated with humanity and I love a good idea or a new idea and to follow it to its conclusion and see what I end up thinking. And I certainly ended up in a different place. And I started with this. Uh, yeah. It's, um, it's certainly a combination of things. I, I am having written down, which I wrote I wrote The End of the Soul, which I published with Columbia University Press, which won a prize that led, you know, an intellectual history that that made it more popular, came out in paperback and whatnot.

[01:04:12]

And and I wrote that because I was fascinated by this bunch of late 19th century scientists who were dissecting each other after death. They called it the Society of Mutual Autopsy. And they were when I went and really did the research and found a lot of their original papers in France under the Eiffel Tower. And the truck there, um, I found that that they were doing all of this to prove to the Catholic Church that the soul doesn't exist. The soul was thought of as a very material thing.

[01:04:44]

And they Paul Broca had found that the the there's a particular area of the brain where that came from the program.

[01:04:54]

That's right. And he was the first one to find that this person who had trouble speaking there was a lesion on the brain when he did the autopsy and that was repeatable. And this group of people who were around him and he joined them. Broca did the first autopsies for the Society of Mutual Autopsy. He was involved in these atheist groups before they started being anthropologists. But they did this under the idea of the Society of a Society of anthropology in Paris.

[01:05:26]

And yeah, Broca took part in the first dissections and then his brain was about the third dissection he gave his brain to them to.

[01:05:35]

And they never really found anything like Broca's aphasia. The brain is very complicated.

[01:05:39]

But what they were doing was showing as often and in as many ways they could that the the brain doesn't need an extra spirit to do its thinking. So I was fascinated with that. But when I by the time I finished that, it was obvious there was no good history of theism. Everywhere I looked, it was either to produce them or to against it would lie on both sides. So I decided to write that. And when I researched it, I was astounded by what I found, the extent to which a history of doubt and disbelief and questioning was not just in every century, even in the dark ages, but that they they knew each other's work, that there were histories of doubt previously in history.

[01:06:21]

That and also there were histories that this was at the heart of religious traditions as well. That's right.

[01:06:26]

Absolutely. That that all the religions shaped themselves around continuous doubt.

[01:06:31]

So so then I was because of the way the secular community sort of took up this book, I found myself very often being the arbiter of of, um, you know what?

[01:06:45]

The very first talk I gave someone came up to me, it was a Jewish man and he's an atheist. His pregnant wife is an atheist. They come up to the desk where I'm signing books and say, can we have a bris? We don't believe in God, but we want to have a bris.

[01:06:57]

And I said, yes, my child, you can have a bris. You know, try not to say anything you don't believe because that might take a little away from it.

[01:07:04]

But let them maybe let them say the stuff you don't believe in Hebrew, which a lot of secular congregations do, that they switch over to more Hebrew then. And there are Christians who prefer the Latin because they want to say in English what they really believe, which is that that they're hoping the community will support them in this new child or that the community will, in any case, that that book got me in a place where I was thinking very deeply about, you know, how I can respond to these kinds of questions and what all that history taught me about how I can start to think about it.

[01:07:44]

So all that came at the same time. But I'll tell you, I started out as a poet and someone recently said she wears many hats, but her head is poetry.

[01:07:51]

And I agree.

[01:07:54]

Well, tell me let's talk for a couple more minutes and then I want you to read some poems.

[01:07:59]

Tell me how, having walked through this, these experiences in this research and writing the book and also all the conversations you have in the wake of the book, how does this infuse your life now as a, you know, friend, colleague and a parent? You know, what do you think you'd do differently? Maybe the. You didn't do before? Oh, well, one little thing is I do impress upon my children that children don't have to be able to see their way out of a difficulty.

[01:08:37]

They just have to report it because grown ups are are they have almost different brains. You know, I try to backpedal that. I don't want to sound insulting, but I do want to say it's not you. If you can't think of a way out of it, that doesn't mean there's not a way out of it. That that's something that studying the brains of younger people definitely made me think I need to pass on. I see my kid in despair and it's something that I can help fix.

[01:09:00]

But they they don't see it at all. Right. Right.

[01:09:03]

But, uh, yeah, I was going to say a different thing in terms of how I feel about the community or with friends.

[01:09:19]

Yeah.

[01:09:20]

I say in sort of parentheses by them in the cup of my hand that, um, yeah, there are a couple of people in my life who I maybe wrote the book for a little bit as well as myself, and they take it very seriously.

[01:09:38]

They tell me, well, you said we can't sell it. Right.

[01:09:44]

Well, what about let's say if your children are younger now, but let's say when they're a little older, if they had a friend who committed suicide, you know, what have you learned even through all your research about what how you would handle that?

[01:09:59]

Well, look, it's terrifying. It's it's a scary thing. I think that the the conversation does have to be about how important people are to each other and how vivid that becomes after a suicide. You know, where we are all suddenly reaching out to each other to say, really, did this really happen? And and I miss this person. And I didn't even know that I was so connected to them. And that's a good place to start a conversation, not the negative side.

[01:10:39]

You know, not to say, you know, don't kill yourself because it would kill other people, but to say, look how involved we all are just under the surface and let's try to help each other. Hmm. That's wonderful. There's there's a line in your book that I, um, you know, it was very striking to me because I did interview you once before a decade ago after the book came out.

[01:11:05]

And and here's what you say. We are indebted to one another. And the debt is a kind of faith, a beautiful, difficult, strange faith we believe each other into being.

[01:11:18]

Yeah, we do believe each other into being. Imagine yourself alone on this planet. Would anything be the same? Would you wash a dish? Would you would you think about productivity? Would you think about when you slept? When you think about how would you think conceive of what your life means? It's like a little kid left alone in a house, a sudden shock of existential distress. We are.

[01:11:42]

We are are we make the meaning for each other and the culture makes the meaning. And I will say I watch my kids love video games and I enjoy some, you know, odd video games myself. But but these practices, they I'm glad we have them. Right. You don't have to be bored as you used to be between things, especially as a kid. I think it's good, but it doesn't. If you had to look for entertainment in things that talked spoke deeply about meaning, you have those more at your fingertips and some people's profession like yours and like mine lead us into a lot of ways of thinking about stuff.

[01:12:25]

So when it all comes down, we have these quotes in our head.

[01:12:29]

We have these friendships in our head of people who thought life was really terrible and yet and yet decided that that there was, you know, this beauty in it and this communalism.

[01:12:41]

So so, yeah, we I, I certainly believe we believe each other into being we are not much when we're not in the eyes of someone else, at least some of the time.

[01:12:53]

OK, this is so great. So would you would you read you said you had a couple of poems. I'd love for you to just say a little bit and then read the poem if you want to tell a story about it.

[01:13:03]

This this is called the No Hemlock Rock. Garrison Keillor recently read it on Writer's Almanac and he added, like on a jukebox, in an old diner, in parentheses, the way people really remember it, which is don't kill yourself. I wrote this between the two poet friends passing. This was when it had just happened once. I hadn't thought that there would be any book or any forthcoming article. It just came out of me from thinking about my own distress and thinking about this experience.

[01:13:35]

And I also say that I, I got the line from a different poet who a Spanish poet named Drummond, Andre Drummond, but he was talking about something totally different. He was telling himself after he had been kissed to not not just explode with with anticipation and saying to himself, just just don't kill yourself.

[01:13:59]

Just everything will be fine. Just don't you know, he's talking about his way home from the experience and like, the trees were on fire in his mind. He was just so lit up, he was scared. So it was a totally different theme.

[01:14:11]

But I loved that. He said the words, don't kill yourself, don't kill yourself.

[01:14:14]

And this came out in this poem. I actually have a poem about his poem in my new poetry book as well as this one.

[01:14:21]

So here goes the No Hemlock Rock. Don't kill yourself, don't kill yourself. Don't eat a donut, be a blown nut. That is, if you're going to kill yourself, stand on a street corner rhyming seizure with Indonesia and wreck it with racket. Allow medical terms, rave and fail being absurd. Living ghost if necessary. But don't kill yourself. Let your friends know that something has passed or be glad they've guessed.

[01:14:55]

But don't kill yourself.

[01:14:56]

If you stay but are bat crazy, you will batter their hearts in blooming scores of anguish.

[01:15:03]

But kill yourself and hundreds of other people die. Poisoned your. It poisons the well, shoot yourself. It cracks the biodome. I will give badges to everyone who's figured this out about suicide and hence refused it. I'm grateful. Stay. Thank you for staying. Please stay. You are my hero for staying. I know about it and I'm grateful you stay eat a donut. Rhim Opas with Lotus Ropen is bogus psychosis. Stay hocus-pocus hocus-pocus. Try not to kill yourself.

[01:15:40]

I won't either.

[01:15:42]

Oh wow. Yeah.

[01:15:46]

The last line of us. We dare not to kill yourself. I won't either. But you could swap it or not.

[01:15:52]

Just read it wrong. But yeah this came before any research. It just, I don't, I don't exactly know all about how it came to be but it was certainly from the experiences we've talked about today and and then afterwards, when I had really started to have a real sense of what I was doing, I wrote this.

[01:16:14]

It's called Men Wept. Socrates sent the women away so he could die without the sound of weeping.

[01:16:23]

The men wept in the painting. Bajak Loui with Socrates sits up, points a finger skyward and reaches for the Hemlock Cup. His wife, Zantop, I think of them as and Soke is in the picture, too, doing her thing for the scene, being sent away. She's far down the hallway and last the rest have turned left, headed up the steps and out she looks back like a lot of wives. She'd been a pillar and also a salt tart.

[01:16:56]

She holds up a hand goodbye. He's preparing to assault himself. She's younger than him. They have little children. They are likely still. Can I curse? Yeah, sure.

[01:17:09]

They are likely still fucking. If we allow the phrase to undergo a deep devaluation while still meaning something that's philosophy. Recall Sock's parable of us all. Four legged, two headed and self in love. Such tenderness. Then think of Zann once enwrapped in great robed arms, now divested Sacto Xenephon. If he didn't fight that he didn't. So I told Xenephon he didn't fight at his trial to avoid getting old. From the vantage of love, it seems wrong to be so full of exit wisdom down the hall.

[01:17:49]

Her palm is a twin of his hand. His a tweaked fist, one finger up posed like a habit, hard like a rock. He points to indicate a rise up to the good. Her hand is a presentation like a message. Stop, don't drink the hemlock.

[01:18:09]

What if instead after his leg braces are off and he has rubbed his leg and observed the congruence of pain and pleasure. But before his offer the cup. What if the prison is invested with a hundred bees? The guard darts for the door. The meanest gasps, the meanest. Guests gasp Yelp and flee the scene. Socrates is stung on the leg and when he bends to see it, a buzz invades his ear. He swats, runs out the door and home quiet.

[01:18:42]

Now he reminds the orchids and as soon locally known for his Figgs back from the trees every night he finds her filling their glasses, squinting into the setting sun at the door. She raises a hand to greet him.

[01:19:00]

Hmm.

[01:19:02]

Say, would you read the last couple of lines of the first one again with the dear and it just because I think we're going to put this on the air and it's just for the last couple of months after the last four lines of the last stanza.

[01:19:15]

Yeah.

[01:19:16]

Eat a donut rhyme opus with lotus rope is bogus psychosis. Stay hocus-pocus hocus-pocus dare not to kill yourself. I won't either. Oh Jennifer this was so wonderful.

[01:19:32]

I'm really going to be happy to put this on the air I think. Oh well thank you so much people. Yeah. Just what a delight. Yeah. It was a delight for me to I know, you know that early conversation I had with you is really so important and it's just great to come back to you. So thank you. I'm really delighted. Thank you. Yeah.

[01:19:53]

I heard when you changed the name that you used a snippet of our talk. Oh yes, of course. Very. I did. That's all. Yeah. Yeah.

[01:20:02]

And you're and this you know, when you replay it I get I get new emails from. People on doubt and and and great conversations have come out of it. Yeah. And we'll you know, we'll we'll point people to your poetry and your books and also point people back to that show when we put this one on the air. And Lili will let you know what's happening and when we're going to produce this. I don't know exactly when it's on the schedule.

[01:20:22]

It'll be in the next month or two. OK. Take care. Thank you so much. You too. Bye bye.

[01:20:28]

Bye bye. Boy.