American Autumn

Is the mic on?

Last words for 2012.
Is the mic on? Last words for 2012
Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X, Francis Bacon

With execution only hours away, and having angrily refused the chaplain’s last rites in his Algiers prison cell, Outsider antagonist Meursault declares “… my last wish was that there should be a crowd of spectators at my execution and that they should greet me with cries of hatred.” Having followed Meursault through his frank admissions of indifference, his trial for murder, his joy in pursuing truth and his unmoving commitment to honesty, Meursault’s last words were Camus’s treatise on how a philosopher ought to live, and ultimately, how it is one should die – that the goal of philosophy itself, as the ancient Cicero said, “is to learn how to die.”

Meursault’s vindication is not the accidental mutterings of alcoholics like Dylan Thomas’s “I’ve had 18 straight whiskies. I think that’s the record,” the delusional finalities like Napoleon’s “France! Army! Head of the Army! Josephine …” or Victor Hugo’s ominous “I see a dark light.” Rather, gazing out the lone cell window, Meursault’s paradoxical lament is more akin to Socrates’s “Crito, we owe a cock to Asclepius. Do pay it. Don’t forget,” telling us that death was merely transformation, or Darwin’s “I have no fear of death.” But this is only part of Meursault’s reclamation of philosophy from the elite tangle of scientific method into the words of earthlings. Surely we can see a coupling in Aldous Huxley’s final words, a request on paper to his wife, “100 milligrams LSD, I.M.” – which she obligingly injected – and Australian outlaw hero Ned Kelly’s “such is life” with Meursault’s experience of finality as an anticlimactic absurd bore. Che’s hopeful provocation “I know you have come to kill me. Shoot coward, you are only going to kill a man,” might reckon otherwise with Camus’s absurdity, but Che’s blood bled into the ground all the same. The heartache of Vincent van Gogh’s “the sadness will last forever,” a day after shooting himself in the chest, might likewise cause Meursault’s conclusion pause, save for the fact the painters death was the ill-conceived opus of a genius. Ludwig Wittgenstein said that if you want to be a good philosopher, you should become a car mechanic. That learning to live, and consequently to die, is not found in books and platitudes but in the “such is life” of our lives. The secret is not in the grandeur but in the anonymity. In this search it could be considered that if you want to learn something new about how to die today, something about the mundane in solitude, the anonymous anthology of final testaments on Texas’s death row might have something to show.

Is the mic on?

I done lost my voice.

My heart goes, is going, ba bump ba bump ba bump.

Nothing I can say can change the past.

Man, there is a lot of people here.

I came here today to die, not make speeches.

To my sweet Claudia, I love you.

I’m ready, Warden.

20 comments on the article “Is the mic on?”

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Anonymous

"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out --
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out --
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out --
Because I was not a Jew.
martin
niemoler .."

Then they come for me -- and there was no one left to speak for me.

and I am Muslim , Hindy , or what ! or Imigrant or What !!?? ? and ? NDAA is new law
I am OWS and soon ?
sea Ya' in Guantanamo or Baghram , or just very nice jail ....
good luck OWS !

Everywoman

They are us...it ends and begins with us. You and I are OWS and ultimately the majority rules so take heart my brother.

Anonymous

That is the problem the majority does not rule. Wealth corrupts and rules. Greed caused this economic crises with a war about oil, deregulation of the banks by corrupted politics and corporations wanting more and more profits. The 99% criticize each other instead of critizing the 1% who corrupt politics and politician and use the police to block free speech. It makes me angry when their equals have the misfortune of losing their ljobs because of downsizing. Look at London, Ontario. The corporation and their CEO used hanouts from our government for jobs only to destroy the lifes of workers with high productivey. I say let them move back to the states. People like them have destroyed the American economy already. We do not want coporations to worsen our country. Also why are Canadians so interested in Republican ideas and ideals. Conservatives in Canada are better than the Repulicans in the States.

Anonymous

I think you are totally confused.
Please come to the point.
What has this essay got to do with our crippling debt?

timcandler

Without each other we'd not have a language. "That which cannot be uttered" is sometimes very frustrating, and Wittgenstein spent happier days fixing motor cars. And good for Socrates worrying about his debts during those final hours. The loudest, I think, is somewhere between "The sadness will last forever" and "Man there is a lot of people here."

Anonymous

If anonyminity and mundane is so vaulted then how come most of the quotes are from the popular crowd of unemployment line rejects? I still love this article; it blurbs to the heart of where change comes from, even if it drags on a bit.

What about someone who is deluded into believing they lead an unforgiving and tough life! but in fact have it pretty good compared to many of our 7billion? How less valuable is their take on mortality?
Aren't all these 'philosophers' expressing personal views about their own struggled existence that truly have absolutely no relevance to anyone else's?
Isn't it simply the skill of the wordsmith that is valued more than any revealed meaning? How do you scale experience from "This dude has some tough shit goin' on" to "Sam here was dropped on his head as a child so just let him work it through"There's only one thing that matters in life! and thats what you do, not what you say or experience, if life! is a community of beings sharing a physical space commonly known as Earth.

Anonymous

So you are one of these philosophers expressing personal views that have absolutely no relevance. For if it is what someone does, not what they say - why should anyone listen to you?

By the way, that is it that you do?

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