Despite the oft-cited notion that we are all “architects of our own good fortune” we still really do not know how many people can legitimately be so described: very much in our lives, certainly, is predetermined by the lottery of our genes and our destiny. It remains quite beyond dispute, however, that no one is the architect of his or her own entry into being. That we came into existence did not lie in our own hands; we were never in a position either to aspire to this state of existence or to refuse it. The only possibility we have of acting, in questions of being and non-being, as autonomous entities is in the question of non-being. Durs Grünbein thus offers the following formulation with regard to people committing suicide: “Fearing the possibility of terrible suffering, they decide to put an end to things themselves. Mortally wounded by the involuntary act of birth, they aspire, through a brutal clutching at this end, to win back their sovereignty as subjects.” (Das erste Jahr, Ff/M 2003, p. 50f) But why does Grünbein emphasis here the “brutality” of the suicide’s “clutching” at his end? Is it not much more brutal to simply suffer, far from all autonomy, the catastrophe of dying, or to damn people who have become incapable of such an action to simply waiting out the end which will overtake them as it does all creatures?
It was Wolfgang Pfleiderer who found the right words in this connection: “Dying is an art. Most people simply let themselves be struck dead.“ (Wolfgang Pfleiderer, Bienen und Wespen, p. 41. Found: GK) The true art of living, in fact, may consist in autonomously and axionomically taking back into one’s own hands that dying which was involuntarily mandated by one’s parents to Nature, instead of waiting for this unknowingly commissioned “contract killer” to bionomically execute the parental sentence of death. To such a line of reasoning it is often retorted that “suicide is the coward’s way out” – to which Pfleiderer replies by pointing out that, whereas the majority of human beings are doubtless cowardly, suicide remains a relatively infrequent phenomenon: “Suicide is cowardice – but if this were the case it would surely occur much more often!” (ibid.., p. 18) In fact, the person who extracts himself, by suicide, from a creaturely situation which offers no other way out resists thereby the nigh-ubiquitous masochism of our world and proves himself to be, qua deserter from his servitude to this world, the true sovereign of the earth.