Author Topic: Self Immolation (and lonely, obsessive, collecting types)  (Read 2257 times)

23 Daves

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Self Immolation (and lonely, obsessive, collecting types)
« on: November 15, 2006, 07:40:51 PM »
I've just found a genuinely very chilling article online about Malachi Ritscher, a jazz enthusiast from Chicago who took his own life at the beginning of this month by covering himself in petrol then setting fire to himself.  They found his charred remains next to a a sign saying "Thou Shalt Not Kill", and it appears he did this as some sort of anti-war protest.

http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/article/feature/39663/Malachi_Ritscher_19542006

Now, all this is quite unnerving enough, really.  The article is actually very well written and goes into much more depth about the morality of the act, certainly much  more in depth than a forum topic first post ever realistically could, but what disturbed me about it the most was how many people I knew who were exactly like Malachi.  People who obsessively collect cultural artefacts (be they music, literature or live recordings).  People who are shy but well-meaning, who know loads of people but have no real close friends .  People who are friends to everyone, but don't really have any friends.

Then an excerpt from the article really shook me to the core:

Quote
 (Forgive me for saying it, but if any of you reading this spend most of your time alone at computers, blogging and posting to message boards but not always doing the tough, tiring work of going out and forging messy human relationships with the people around you, this is something to remember: Try hard.)


A bit too close to home for many, perhaps?  Don't get me wrong, I don't necessarily think I fall into this category (yet!), but there are moments when I've slipped dangerously close to it.  

The act of self immolation is also terrifying - what kind of tolerance and willpower would you have to have to do it?  Plenty of methods of suicide are gruesome enough - jumping under a train, for instance, is an agonising choice - but actually setting fire to one's self is slower than it might otherwise be, and completely and totally beyond my comprehension.

Thoughts, etc?  I'm not too sure what aspect of this article we can take to discuss, the morality and personality of the man or the act itself, but I'm sure the conversation will take its own course.

Self Immolation (and lonely, obsessive, collecting types)
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2006, 08:16:46 PM »
If only he'd realised the war had ended.

Self Immolation (and lonely, obsessive, collecting types)
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2006, 09:26:59 PM »
And that we won.

Al Tha Funkee Homosapien

  • Nothing is ever as good or bad as you think.
    • http://www.last.fm/user/georgethebadger/
Self Immolation (and lonely, obsessive, collecting types)
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2006, 10:45:25 PM »


Those police have been taking a few fashion cues from Shredder.

Self Immolation (and lonely, obsessive, collecting types)
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2006, 11:45:41 PM »
I can't imagine the act of self immolation.  You'd need balls of steel or to be out of touch with reality to do it.

It's a brave, yet stupid thing to do.  Here is something cowardly and disgusting, Beating then setting a young couple alight.  Thought to be sectarian, one was Catholic, one was Protestant.   It makes me fucking sick that this shit still happens in Ireland.

Re: Self Immolation (and lonely, obsessive, collecting types)
« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2006, 12:11:00 AM »
Quote from: "23 Daves"
I've just found a genuinely very chilling article online about Malachi Ritscher, a jazz enthusiast from Chicago who took his own life at the beginning of this month by covering himself in petrol then setting fire to himself.  They found his charred remains next to a a sign saying "Thou Shalt Not Kill", and it appears he did this as some sort of anti-war protest.

http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/article/feature/39663/Malachi_Ritscher_19542006

Now, all this is quite unnerving enough, really.  The article is actually very well written and goes into much more depth about the morality of the act, certainly much  more in depth than a forum topic first post ever realistically could, but what disturbed me about it the most was how many people I knew who were exactly like Malachi.  People who obsessively collect cultural artefacts (be they music, literature or live recordings).  People who are shy but well-meaning, who know loads of people but have no real close friends .  People who are friends to everyone, but don't really have any friends.

Then an excerpt from the article really shook me to the core:

Quote
 (Forgive me for saying it, but if any of you reading this spend most of your time alone at computers, blogging and posting to message boards but not always doing the tough, tiring work of going out and forging messy human relationships with the people around you, this is something to remember: Try hard.)


A bit too close to home for many, perhaps?  Don't get me wrong, I don't necessarily think I fall into this category (yet!), but there are moments when I've slipped dangerously close to it.  



  Reminds me of the following story:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kevin_Ray_Underwood

  In the respect that..  this guy spent a lot of time on the internet, on forums, blogging,  and playing games, but didn't really have a social life. Otherwise normal, 26 years old, no history of violent behaviour. He was on medication for depression, and suffered from social phobia.
  He ended up killing a little girl, rather than committing suicide.

  I heard about the case from a fellow gamer (a few months back I started playing  "Kingdom of Loathing". I have not, as yet, turned into a psychopathic child murderer).

 (note the KoL thread on this very forum: http://www.cookdandbombd.co.uk/forums/index.php?topic=9770&highlight=kingdom+loathing).

Self Immolation (and lonely, obsessive, collecting types)
« Reply #6 on: November 16, 2006, 12:22:14 AM »
What's "lonely"? I have a busy work life, busy family life, and a small number of reasonably close friends, yet I spend a lot of time here and am not an extrovert, admittedly, enjoying the relative solitude on the PC when I can get it. Pathologising Internet users seems a tad unfair.

"Hmm, he seems a bit... Aspergers"
"Oh yes, Tarquin, definitely syndromal, with perhaps a smattering of Downs"

MojoJojo

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Self Immolation (and lonely, obsessive, collecting types)
« Reply #7 on: November 16, 2006, 12:40:04 AM »
Jesus fucking christ. That's what I always think when I hear of cases of people setting themselves on fire.

It has mhore effect  on me than suicide bombers do. I often feel the fact that there are all these people willing to die, to no benefit to their family or anyone else is a bit over looked  in the current media of terrorism=ultimate evil. But setting yourself on fire and just fuking sitting their while your flesh burns is the real way to show that you feel strongly about the subject under discussion.

Man, it's like a new form of democrarcy.

Self Immolation (and lonely, obsessive, collecting types)
« Reply #8 on: November 16, 2006, 01:02:58 AM »
Do you remember this photograph?



I believe it won the Pulitzer Pize circa 1969.
 
A Buddhist monk set himself alight during a protest against the Vietnam War. Apparently someone asked him why he was doing it and he replied "I'm teaching you to deal with your shit".

It makes a point, that's why people do it. That people are too deaf to listen is another thing.

Self Immolation (and lonely, obsessive, collecting types)
« Reply #9 on: November 16, 2006, 01:10:16 AM »
I'm amazed they can keep so calm while they're suffering such agony. I guess they must get their mind into a place where they can deal with it, but still, I'd last a few seconds and then be screaming "THIS FUCKING HURTS!!!" and running around like, well, someone on fire.

There's a list of all the people who have done it here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-immolation

Self Immolation (and lonely, obsessive, collecting types)
« Reply #10 on: November 16, 2006, 01:13:59 AM »
Quote from: "Ciarán"
Do you remember this photograph?

(picture)

I believe it won the Pulitzer Pize circa 1969.
 
A Buddhist monk set himself alight during a protest against the Vietnam War. Apparently someone asked him why he was doing it and he replied "I'm teaching you to deal with your shit".

It makes a point, that's why people do it. That people are too deaf to listen is another thing.


And Rage Against the Machine made it more famous when they used it for their debut album cover, of course

Self Immolation (and lonely, obsessive, collecting types)
« Reply #11 on: November 16, 2006, 01:22:44 AM »
Quote from: "The Unicorn"
And Rage Against the Machine made it more famous when they used it for their debut album cover, of course


Yeah I don't really like rock music so I ignored RATM, but I'd probably quite like them! Well if they used it good on them I say, so long as some kind of message got across...

rudi

  • I'm not interested
Self Immolation (and lonely, obsessive, collecting types)
« Reply #12 on: November 16, 2006, 01:26:25 AM »
Quote
A Buddhist monk set himself alight during a protest against the Vietnam War.


A huge number of Buddhists did this during the war.

Oddly enough it's one of the least painful ways to go (apparently) as the nerves are decimated so quickly.

It just takes a while to actually die is all - noice...

23 Daves

  • Break a leg!
    • Left and to the Back
Self Immolation (and lonely, obsessive, collecting types)
« Reply #13 on: November 16, 2006, 08:07:28 AM »
Quote from: "Pinball"
What's "lonely"? I have a busy work life, busy family life, and a small number of reasonably close friends, yet I spend a lot of time here and am not an extrovert, admittedly, enjoying the relative solitude on the PC when I can get it. Pathologising Internet users seems a tad unfair.


It was just an aside, really, but one which I took a bit personally and felt was actually a fair point.  You could argue he's making as big a deal out of Malachi's obsessive collecting of jazz recordings (and I do actually know somebody who is exactly the same in London - he goes around the jazz, avant garde and poetry circuit taping performances.  You'll often see him stood around with a DAT or MiniDisc player, mic-ing up the stage, etc.)

I think the primary point being made is one about Malachi's social guardedness, his inability to trust his fellow human beings.  Believe it or not, I think that's quite a common male trait - it's a statistical fact that middle aged marriages breaking down is one of the most common causes of homelessness and mental illness in men.  When you see tramps in their fifties and sixties on the street, they haven't been there for the last forty years.  They wouldn't have survived that many winters.  And where were their friends?  You tell me.

Self Immolation (and lonely, obsessive, collecting types)
« Reply #14 on: November 16, 2006, 09:22:11 AM »
For me personally my social life hasnt decreased because of the Net, I find the time I spend on here replaces time I used to spend watching TV (I only watch 5 hours a week max now) or reading. Also, I often talk to my friends online ore-mail them, so I suppose that helps my social life. I've never met anyone through the Internet though, and doubt I ever will.

Quote
but not always doing the tough, tiring work of going out and forging messy human relationships with the people around you,


See, this is a  reason why I come on here so often. Nobody on here wants to watch a different TV program from me, wants to go to a pub I don't want to go to, or is rung by their girlfriend while out with me. I like hanging out with fleshy people, but sometimes it's nice to have a change. Plus things socially have declined recently, and when it  happens (and I assumemost people go through social ups and downs) its nice to have this to turn to.

Borboski

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Self Immolation (and lonely, obsessive, collecting types)
« Reply #15 on: November 16, 2006, 10:35:02 AM »
I too find that I don't spend any *less* time socialising because of the net.  It's casual TV watching which has been cut down.  When I do watch TV now, it's something I actually want to watch, or have specifically downloaded.

Having said that, I've replaced that with a lot of casual PC use - I'll be on for a good few hours and not feel like I've actually *done* anything, such as played a game or read something interesting. Instead I skim forums and news sites, which is just a waste as time as watching soaps.

The internet - and email, has made my social life much easier.  My circle of friends is split around the country, and I'm not one for long chats on the phone with mates, and so an email every now and then keeps us in touch and lets us arrange meet-ups.

Pilf

  • probably doesn't like you
Self Immolation (and lonely, obsessive, collecting types)
« Reply #16 on: November 16, 2006, 10:55:42 AM »
That is really upsetting, not that I knew him or even heard of him but that I think everyone who regularly goes to gigs knows someone like that (and realises that they aren't a million miles away from it). The fact that he wrote his own obituary is just mindlblowing, and reading it is even worse.

Self Immolation (and lonely, obsessive, collecting types)
« Reply #17 on: November 16, 2006, 11:05:26 AM »
I don't think being a loner is anything much to worry about as long as the person is happy that way, and not forced into it by a broken marriage or whatever. It probably can lead you down some pretty eccentric paths without anyone to keep you right, but setting fire to yourself (or going on a murderous rampage) is the extreme end of the spectrum. The "he was a loner" cliche seems like an easy way out for the rest of society anyway, and probably not the real reason for the actions of most such people.

It's natural for people (especially men) to socialise less as they get older anyway, I think. First your friends get pussy whipped, then they get married or move away. At least the internet lets you stay in touch with them easily.

Malachi's sad story is a very sad one, but he seems to have got out a lot more than most men his age. Beyond going down the local for a pint, anyway.

Self Immolation (and lonely, obsessive, collecting types)
« Reply #18 on: November 17, 2006, 04:20:55 PM »
this is probably quite a pedantic point, but i think the self-immolation committed by buddhist monks, as seen above, was for various reasons, not solely/not because of the war; the government had been gradually christian-ising the country, withdrawing the religious holidays and recognition afforded to buddhist celebrations.  this had very much infringed upon their way of life, and this was, apparently, what the monks protested about.  i expect the incessant bombing of their own and their neighbouring country played a part, too, though.

Self Immolation (and lonely, obsessive, collecting types)
« Reply #19 on: November 17, 2006, 04:29:11 PM »
Quote
Instead I skim forums and news sites


Surely this will make your more informed than watching TV will (well, apart from news and documentaries). Unless the soaps have changed since I was last in the room while someone was watching one.

I must say the media go out of the way to relate being a loner to being dangerous. There was an Argus headline about a bloke who'd stabbed another worker at a resturant some weeks ago.

"LONER JAILED..."

23 Daves

  • Break a leg!
    • Left and to the Back
Self Immolation (and lonely, obsessive, collecting types)
« Reply #20 on: November 18, 2006, 12:42:12 AM »
Well, the Argus is a load of fucking shit.

Mind you, I would say that.  The editor of the publication threw me out of an interview room once with a flea in my ear, making it clear that I wasn't good enough for their paper as I didn't have real news values.  All because I didn't probe some obscure local actress about her divorce which had taken place about ten years before...

sproggy

  • I tire of you... and your tiresomeness
Self Immolation (and lonely, obsessive, collecting types)
« Reply #21 on: November 18, 2006, 12:44:37 AM »
'Tis a fine line between news and gossip.

I know which one I prefer to tread.

23 Daves

  • Break a leg!
    • Left and to the Back
Self Immolation (and lonely, obsessive, collecting types)
« Reply #22 on: November 18, 2006, 01:07:31 AM »
Quote from: "sproglette"
'Tis a fine line between news and gossip.

I know which one I prefer to tread.


But it's all about the target audience, you see.  And according to the Argus, Brighton is riddled with right-wing, heterosexual, gossip-mongering, God-fearing, illiterate white men.  In their own minds, at least.

Self Immolation (and lonely, obsessive, collecting types)
« Reply #23 on: November 18, 2006, 02:44:00 PM »
What a fucking attention seeking whore. Honestly. Setting yourself on fire is not very bloody nice for the people who have to witness it. And I'm sure the poor fuckers that had to scrape his charred corpse off the ground had a right laugh too.

This wasn't a political act, it was just a mental topping himself.

Self Immolation (and lonely, obsessive, collecting types)
« Reply #24 on: November 18, 2006, 02:46:55 PM »
I dunno, at least he went out in style.

Self Immolation (and lonely, obsessive, collecting types)
« Reply #25 on: November 18, 2006, 03:30:02 PM »
Quote from: "Circusfire"
Setting yourself on fire is not very bloody nice for the people who have to witness it. And I'm sure the poor fuckers that had to scrape his charred corpse off the ground had a right laugh too.

That's applicable to any public self immolations, so to use an example from this thread, would "This wasn't a political act, it was just a mental topping himself." apply to Thích Quảng Ðức as well?

Self Immolation (and lonely, obsessive, collecting types)
« Reply #26 on: November 18, 2006, 07:07:43 PM »
Yeah him too. I fucking hate hippies that think setting themselves on fire is going to change the world. If these arsonist fucks want to make a difference they should go work for MSF or something instead of burning themselves to death.

I'm all heart me.

Self Immolation (and lonely, obsessive, collecting types)
« Reply #27 on: November 18, 2006, 08:07:28 PM »
I reckon a hippie burning themself could be quite enjoyable for passers by what with the fumes and all (and seeing that the world would soon be one hippie fewer).

Self Immolation (and lonely, obsessive, collecting types)
« Reply #28 on: November 19, 2006, 01:58:31 AM »
It does seem to me that burning yourself isn't the most persuasive argument. It's a tad.. simplistic.  Wouldn't a life devoted to discussing the issues with people, helping as many people as you can understand what the problem is, and how and why they can help do more?  Sure you get on the front page, and everyone knows you think x is bad, but is it going to change anyone's mind?  'hey that guy set himself on fire he believed it so much, I should believe it too!'  I can't really see it.  I appreciate it gets more coverage of the issue into the media, but it can't guarantee a fair or correct representation, and it'll be gone from the news in a few days.  I can't help but feel that a life devoted to a cause can do more than a death.