Tuesday, February 19, 2008
On 90 Day Jane
So some of you have probably heard about this blog called 90 Day Jane which has been causing a lot of commotion amongst the sunlight dodgers. It was apparently a blog by a woman planning to kill herself in exactly 90 days. Recently she revealed it to be an artistic statement and she says she's going to take it down tonight. So for posterity here is her last comment and conclusion about the project and my own comment which I was unable to post and where I've started to wax about my own personal philosophy.
EDIT : I suppose she took it down earlier and the hyperlink above is actually someone else who's posted the whole blog.
''90DayJane is a personal art piece about me. It was meant for me and (what I ignorantly thought would be) a small number of people who might find it on BlogSpot. It is the result of me tapping into the darkest part of myself and seeing where it led.
What I have written and filmed, at its core, is from a place of truth. I am the girl in the videos. I have great disappointment with my generation and its obvious obsession with celebrity culture rather than their fellow man, thus the former Chuck Palahniuk reference.
I wanted this blog to be about personal discovery and truth. But the correspondences I have received have taught me more about those qualities than I could ever express. 90DayJane has become its own entity and has influenced me. In fact, it has changed my perspective as a human being.
I feel a massive sense of responsibility to my art, but more importantly the readers of this blog. My closeness to this project must have made art seem like reality to many people. That is not a reaction that I expected nor can I morally justify. This is why my project, 90DayJane, will be taken down in the next few hours.
90DayJane was meant to mirror the tragic figure, Christine Chubbuck. Newscaster Christine Chubbuck committed suicide in 1974 by shooting herself in the head live on air. She was very vocal about her depression to those around her and gave every indication of her exact intentions leading up to the event. Sadly, no one reacted or helped Christine and those left behind could only ask "why".
Her story both inspired and terrified me because I can truly empathize with her rage and even her isolation. I wondered how Christine's life and subsequent suicide would play out in our time. Would the internet be yet another place of isolation to her or an escape? If she remained vocal about her intentions would anyone bother asking "why" or even noticing before the fact? Would the reaction (if any) of the public change her intentions?
I thought this mirror might reflect the isolation everyday people feel and the lack of true human connection on the internet.
It is my feeling that the internet is the best and worst example of human interaction. This was painfully proven to me by reading every comment and every email. I believe I owed that to everyone. I know we all saw the dark side of the reactions in the blog comments. There was so much hate, immaturity and apathy. But, I truly wish everyone could see the beauty and honesty in the emails; many people feel like Jane (me). People have been more real and heartfelt than I thought was possible. I owe them a debt of gratitude for showing me the difference between people's reactions and their true feelings. I understand.
I do want everyone to know that I accepted no money for 90DayJane despite multiple offers from television, film, books, etc... I will not release my identity and I ask not to be contacted for any type of promotion. I want only for the people who wrote to me to know that I hear them and feel the same way. Your emails touched me so much. Please, share your thoughts with someone in your life or express them in a positive way''
I think artists are as much a part of society as stockbrokers or people who build roads. They're not good or bad - just a part of things.
This was an interesting project that caused a lot of people to consider things they normally would not.
Most people have responded using the language most prevalent in the 'user-developed' Internet (I know that's not the official term but I can't remember what is) - language that is overtly agressive, cynical and negative. But we are all used to this.
I read a quote from Javier Bardem on Imdb who said that 'We are so scared about talking about death that we are letting people die in silence. It is good to talk publicly'
I think this is right. Death should not be a taboo. Death is part of life. No, death is life. They are the same thing, viewed from different ends of a straight line. Incidentally, it is true to say 'we will never die' if you believe that at the moment death begins you will cease to perceive. There will never be a moment when you are perceiving death. Therefore you will only ever perceive life. Your time will end but it is not true to say you will die. There will only be the last moment you will be alive, which is still 'living' and no more 'dying' than any other moment of living. It is just closer to the end of the line.
But what is time? Another illusion. Just a measurement. Monday is not really Monday just because everyone calls it Monday. It actually is one revolution of the Sun. The thing we call the Sun etc etc etc etc... (Edit: Scientists, spot the deliberate mistake!)
I imagine those who talk themselves into suicide will often experience that moment as a realization they have been very stupid. I believe the meaning of life is to sleep, eat, fuck, shit etc. In short, to do. Its stupid not to.
That's why depression is rightly defined as a disease as it makes our bodies do something stupid - though its psychological rather than physical. I am lucky enough not to be depressed but I recognise that I was for much of my adolescence. I survived and it has helped teach me to rationalise my way out of negativity - which (in my understanding) is also the end result of cognitive psychology. The key is acceptance. I don't have the patience or the goodness to convince a depressed person that the key is acceptance - though there are people around who try.
Anyway, Jane, well done for making people think a little deeper about what life really is - something we can rarely even begin to grasp (in the rich world, anyway) as we are distracted by so many illusions - for example language, the rules of society, the hypnotic effect of the TV and Internet (which robs us of so much real life), information systems and the mental construct of memory we call 'the self'. Without these illusions (and also perhaps the reality of being part of an overpopulated world) I do not believe people would be so ready to part with life. Life is a purely subjective experience whose ultimate reality can never fully reveal itself.
Sartre (and doubtlessly others too - I am no authority on philosophical history) said we can never fully know ourselves nor can we fully know what is outside of us. We can only ever know a combination of these two things. One can never be distinct from the other for us. Life is always a combination of two unknowable things, then. So its this purely solitary, subjective experience that we find ourselves in, in our secular society.
Incidentally I find it impossible to be completely secular. I've experienced things that rationalists would say were only my psyche applying a logic to random events. But then I believe we come down to semantics (the meanings of words and what we associate with them) - and one man's mysticism can be another man's rationality.
I also believe all atheists and believers are essentially the same. Atheists believe there is nothing outside of the Universe we know - matter, anti-matter, whatever. Believers (at least some of them) believe there is something outside of the Universe we know ('God'). As we can never know the believers' something or the atheists' nothing, they seem to be different ways of looking at the same thing; Something outside of what we know and can perceive is, by definition, exactly the same as nothing. We just think about the same essential mystery in different ways.
It is surely beneficial to have faith in something that can help us, if we can overcome our rationality to have that faith (and many would like to but cannot, I realise). Saying this, I personally believe all organised religion to be a kind of hysteria (very well controlled but hysteria nonetheless) though I fully respect it helps other people and I try to keep an open mind.
In conlusion, think life can be a real cunt sometimes but it can also be fucking amazing. I sympathise if you've had more of the former than the latter (or even none of the latter) but I say keep throwing the dice.