They write books

Simon Critchley (for it is he again) describes himself:

Simon Critchley was born in Hertfordshire in 1960, and currently lives and works in New York as Professor of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research. He failed dramatically at school before failing in a large number of punk bands in the late 70s and failing as a poet some time later. This was followed by failure as a radical political activist. By complete accident, he ended up at university when he was 22 and decided to stay. He found a vocation in teaching philosophy, although his passions still lie in music, poetry and politics.

He’s written another book called the Book of Dead Philosophers which at first site merely seems only to contribute to the idea of “the death of…” meme (or “end of…” history, etc) but which in which he claims that the manner of the dying says something about each person. He’s arranged it in a kind of top ten:

1. Heracleitus (540-480 BC)
Heracleitus became such a hater of humanity that he wandered in the mountains and lived on a diet of grass and herbs. But malnutrition gave him dropsy and he returned to the city to seek a cure, asking to be covered in cow dung, which he believed would draw the bad humours out of his body. In the first version of the story, the cow dung is wet and the weeping philosopher drowns; in the second, it is dry and he is baked to death in the Ionian sun.

After a few more in this vein we get:

10. Michel Foucault (1926-1984)
Foucault was first hospitalized in June 1984 with the symptoms of a nasty and persistent flu, fatigue, terrible coughing and migraine. “It’s like being in a fog,” he said. But he carried on working until the end on the second and third volumes of The History of Sexuality, which appeared shortly before his death. Although he was a very early victim of the virus, it seems that Foucault knew that he had Aids. Foucault was fond of reading Seneca towards the end and died on 25 June like a classical philosopher.

So that’s alright then.


One Response

  1. I’m not sure if the book is organised as a top ten (obviosuly the article is): there are after all 200 tales here. Critchley’s death is apparently included here. Gotta put this on my wish list.

    There are some pretty funny deaths in here: I don’t think he included any holy fools, though, who disappear, or controversially stink. Laughing at death is so British.


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