Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Suicide Note

On a cool September weekend, thirty-five year old Mitchell Heisman walked onto the storied campus of Harvard University and made his way to the Memorial Church. After taking in the view for a few brief moments, he spotted a group of about twenty tourists who were snapping pictures and discussing the aesthetic beauty of one of America’s most prestigious institutions. Perhaps he desired an audience, or maybe the timing was coincidental; but for whatever reason, Mitchell chose that moment to calmly produce the silver revolver he kept in his pocket. As the horrified tourists looked on, he placed the weapon to his temple and abruptly ended his own life.

Author of "The Suicide Note" Mitchell Heisman

Shortly thereafter, four hundred of Mitchell’s friends and family members received a cryptic email message from him that contained a hyperlink to a website. When the recipients followed the link, they were presented with a 1,905 page document succinctly titled “Suicide Note.” The document, which donned 1,433 footnotes, a table of contents, and lengthy bibliography, covers a variety of meandering topics. In the same email, he instructed his family to allow the manifesto to remain on the Internet so that it would be accessible to the general populace after his death.

So what drives a person to prepare a suicide document so massive it eclipses even modern pieces of legislation? After downloading and skimming through the note, it would appear that Mr. Heisman’s self-destructive condition is not the result of acute, short-term depression but rather a focused lifetime quest to disprove the validity of having a focused lifetime quest. An infrequent part-time employee at several bookstores, Mitchell was able to fund his master-work with a substantial inheritance from his deceased father. His family was under the impression he was researching a book.

While it is certainly not your typical suicide note, I must say that what Heisman’s essay lacks in emotional impact, it compensates for with sheer annotation. And at the risk of sounding irreverent, would it have been too much to ask for some engaging chapter titles? Just scanning through the table of contents is a chore:
  • "The Anglo-Saxon Genius for Genetically Maladaptive Behavior”
  • “The Norman Destruction of the Anglo-Saxon Aristocracy and Other Genetically Adaptive Behaviors.
  • “God is Technology: How the Singularity of Monotheism Transcended Biology and Primed the Technological Genesis of God.”
  • “From Incorporation to Symbolization: The Ancient Rupture off Biological Nature’s Path.”
  • “Class Discrimination and the Refinement of English Tribalism.”
It should also be noted that he spends an alarming portion of the note referencing “the penis of Jesus” in salaciously titled subsections like, “How Rome was Raped by Jesus’s Penis of the Spirit, Contracting a Deadly Virus.” Under these headings he equates the spread of Christianity through Rome to modern venereal diseases like HIV. 

While I support all forms of academic inquiry, I am not sure that there is much merit in comparing the proliferation of a major world religion to a sexually transmitted disease.

Once the metaphorical genitals of the risen Lord have been sufficiently discussed, Heisman turns his formidable vocabulary to the modern American political system with a section entitled: “Barack Obama: Supernigger.” While the title might conjure images of an unfathomably offensive superhero, Heisman uses the paragraph to dissect the significance of ethnicity in politics (and it is every bit as engaging as it sounds.)

Having thoroughly angered Christians, African-Americans, and anyone with a beginner’s thesaurus, he waxes poetically on the intrinsic bias of…..Zzzzzzzz.......

“Tracing the biases that hinder objectivity, and
attempting to uproot those biases, leads towards the notion
that self-preservation itself is a bias. If life has no inherent
meaning, then self-preservation cannot be judged
fundamentally superior to self-destruction, or vice versa.
Self-preservation is exerts bias, for example, in a bias against
this very observation that self-preservation is not
fundamentally superior to self-destruction.”

My problem with Mr. Heisman is twofold:

  • Like all true nihilists, he believes that our existence is without objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value. This conclusion is normally reached by spending the formidable years of one’s life attempting to discredit conflicting philosophies and then penning mind-numbingly bland essays that are only read by people who believe that the massive effort you expended was as misguided and useless as their own fleeting existence. Their apathy toward your work then reinforces your original belief that your existence (mostly spent researching nihilism) is pointless. Pure. Genius.
  • You have to be pretty selfish to write something this boring and call it a “suicide note” just to make your surviving relatives read it. A more appropriate title would have been “At Length.”

If you are looking for the perfect gift for the nihilist on your Christmas list, or just wish to devour a piece of literature every bit as lengthy as Stephen King’s The Stand (minus the engaging plot, characters, or ability to successfully fight drowsiness)  you can snag a copy at

While many of you may feel that I have been rather crass concerning the recently departed Mr. Heisman, let us not forget that he squandered away a significant inheritance to research and compose an inflammatory manifesto he purposefully rendered himself unavailable to defend at the time of its publishing. Besides, if he is correct, none of this matters anyway…….  


  1. His inheritance was actually quite small and paled in comparison to the support that a living father normally provides monetarily to his son. And Mitchell always worked, that is, up until the last 4 years of his life which he devoted full time to his book. I say these things simply to dispel the notion that Mitchell was some rich kid living off his father's inheritance. That simply wasn't the case.


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