Man Who Killed Self in Harvard Yard Leaves Massive, Online Suicide Note

Mitchell Heisman, the man who shot himself last weekend in Harvard Yard, killed himself as “Experimental Elimination of Self-Preservation,” according to an extensive suicide note he has published online. The note, found at the domain http://www.suicidenote.info/, is over 1,905 pages long, and divided into complicated subsections. In its totality, the document sketches Heisman’s dense, heavily-cited social, political, and ethical philosophy, and promotes his book, heretofore unpublished. Heisman worked in several bookstores throughout the area, and consulted with Harvard professors in the process of writing the document.

Most arresting of all: the note — tome, really — is probing, deeply researched, and often humorous. Heisman personality and erudition shine through every page, as he traces the philosophical steps that have led him to suicide: not really desperation or depression, but rather, intellectual curiosity, and a desire to test the limits of the unknown. After a quick read, comparisons to Albert Camus’ “The Myth of Sisyphus” abound. All the more sad that such a deeply intelligent young man would choose to cut his scholarly output off at one, interesting book.

  • Abc123

    This is actually quite sad. I read through a bit of this manifesto, and this guy isn’t just a raving crackpot. His arguments are decently logic and pretty well thought out. Clearly convinced himself to an extreme nihilism that life isn’t worth living. Sad.

  • Wayne

    I knew him, he was a room mate of a friend with whom I played music and abig fan of a band I was in. He was indeed no crackpot. He was a very gentle soul and a quiet but powerful intellectual. He will be missed.

  • Unfortunate

    Also took a skim through — very well-researched, reads like Nietzsche in its genealogy of liberal democracy. Also like Nietzsche, it apparently brought him to a psychotic break. It seems like he was a witty, thoughtful guy who simply became obsessed by the absurdity of existence.

    I hope that the authorities don’t take his web site down, since that was his last wish.

    • http://www.google.com/profiles/estevancarlos estevan

      I don’t know why absurdity scares people. I think it’s during those periods of time, you create art and celebrate it.

    • Notanidiot

      No.

    • Lightblueblood’12

      syphilis brought Nietzsche to insanity. Nietzsche’s philosophy very explicitly condemns nihilism, or the tendency towards death, and instead celebrates life and vitality.

      • Tk

        While it’s true that Nietzsche condemns nihilism, it’s up for debate whether he went insane from syphilis – there have been a number of ideas that suggest Nietzsche suffered from a hereditary condition (called “softening of the brain” by contemporaries of his father who credited the illness with dad’s death).

        http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/philosophy/jns/RVW_SchainSyph.shtml

    • level

      Well, now he’s gone, eventually someone will stop paying for the hosting.

  • Unfortunate

    Also took a skim through — very well-researched, reads like Nietzsche in its genealogy of liberal democracy. Also like Nietzsche, it apparently brought him to a psychotic break. It seems like he was a witty, thoughtful guy who simply became obsessed by the absurdity of existence.

    I hope that the authorities don’t take his web site down, since that was his last wish.

  • Solobuffalo

    I feel compelled to read this in it’s entirety.
    Also, I feel it is only right and proper to disseminate his work, so even if the authorities feel morally obligated to remove the page from the internet, it will live on.

    My condolences to his friends and family.
    The world has lost a great mind.
    I hope he has found peace in his decision.

  • Gerrygobel

    Brilliant Exit Strategy!

    Ordinary people seem not to realize that those who really apply themselves in the right way to philosophy are directly and of their own accord preparing themselves for dying and death. If this is true, and they have actually been looking forward to death all their lives, it would of course be absurd to be troubled when the thing comes for which they have so long been preparing and looking forward.

    —SOCRATES, PHAEDO

  • http://fontofliberty.blogspot.com/ Rarian Rakista

    Reads great on a Kindle.

    • Andreloxas

      There are not too many fallacies for as far as I have read (150 pages), it explained things to me I had problems understanding/putting together in my mind. It is just fucking sad, the guy was brilliant and even good looking, as both don’t always walk hand in hand. Fucking sad.

      • Andreloxas

        It was not to be a reply, sorry.

    • http://twitter.com/romiust Romius T.

      where can i find it on kindle?

  • Homme revolte

    Comparisons to Camus? Camus was absolutely oppsoed to suicide.

    It’s an interesting read, nonetheless.

    • http://fontofliberty.blogspot.com/ Rarian Rakista

      Reminds me a bit more of Artaud.

    • Mersault

      I remember Camus writing about a man who committed suicide to draw attention to his writing. The work was judged to be no good and he was promptly forgotten.

    • lightblueblood’12

      The first line of “The Myth of Sisyphus” is “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide”

      He may have reached a different conclusion but they were answering the same question. The comparison is justified.

      He also says that he has “never seen anyone die for the ontological argument”
      I guess we found one

  • biffula

    This nut is just more prood that sitting around and ‘thinking’ is a bad thing. What a shame.

    • http://fontofliberty.blogspot.com/ Rarian Rakista

      How so, chief?

      Perhaps he was not emotionally mature enough to deal with the solicitude he
      demanded of his scholarship.

  • raman

    moving

    • Tompollock

      Sounds like a guy that was uncomfortable in his own skin.

  • Anonymous

    He was disturbed. He needed to work and he needed to have love in his life. He had neither. He used his inherited money to withdraw from living a purposeful life.

    This is very sad.

  • Scott

    this particular instance of suicide (sad–i hope the family, friends, and witnesses are ok) demonstrates that mental illness isn’t always as obvious as the guy who publicly reveals his pathology by screaming at things that don’t exist–it could be the guy who publicly reveals his pathology in a 1,905 page-long seemingly intellectual pursuit. no, i haven’t read the whole thing (and won’t), but i have read enough pages to notice the essentially unfalsifiable hypothesis, false premises/logical fallacies, and how his mental illness was manifesting itself in the midst of sane-sounding SAT word soup. that IvyGate/anyone would call it “deeply intelligent” and imply that it was “intellectual curiosity” as opposed to mental illness that led him to suicide disturbs me. of course, it could always be a willful misunderstanding (by IvyGate) aimed at stirring up publicity and drumming up controversy, or a mistaken assumption that anything that sounds scholarly and has lots of big words in it must be “deeply intelligent”, or an honest opinion that I can’t relate to.

    mental illness is a delicate subject and sadly afflicts many people without its being known. i only wish that this story would not be reported as an impressive tome left behind by a tortured scholar but more realistically as a sad case of another person lost to mental illness (though his suicide note was very atypical).

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6WBXXJPOI5XNCYIR2LOFOIJGNI Jennifer

      Actually, Scott is it? I can’t believe you would choose to counter what IVYGATE says! If you seriously don’t think that this guy, Mitchell Heisman, is intelligent, then if anything I think you are the one who is mentally ill, NOT Mitchell Heisman! Did IvyGate say how smart you are? NO! I think you are in no position to criticize this man! Especially since you haven’t even read his whole note! I HAVE read it and I think it’s amazing! I think it is DEFINITELY deeply intelligent and insightful, as IvyGate says, and I honestly feel sorry for you since you can’t even recognize a great work such as this. You should read this article called “Suicide is neither Rational nor Irrational” by Christopher Cowley, just search it on google, that should explain to you if you don’t even believe me, that just because someone chooses to commit suicide doesn’t mean that they are “mentally ill” or crazy, as you have so quickly assumed without any warranted evidence to back that up.

  • uuhhhh

    TL,DR

  • http://angrysummerquietfall.blogspot.com Avery

    The history stuff is kooky, but I liked this line:

    I trace my ancestry about 13.7 billion years to the so-called
    Big Bang. What I am is literally inseparable from the history
    of the evolution of particles, galaxies, stars, planets,
    chemistry, biology, and finally, cultural-technological
    evolution.

  • JLN

    I’m also a member of said band and I also knew Mitch through the same roommate. (hi Wayne) I just wanted to thank everyone on this site for being so civil and open minded. It’s surreal to see this slowly spin into a myth and watch as the piranha bites are taken by millions of people who want to comment on “the crazy guy who wrote a long suicide note.” This is one of the forums that seems to be populated with respectful, humane adults. I think Mitch would be very happy reading this page. This is the conversation he was probably looking for. Thank you.

  • JLN

    I’m also a member of said band and I also knew Mitch through the same roommate. (hi Wayne) I just wanted to thank everyone on this site for being so civil and open minded. It’s surreal to see this slowly spin into a myth and watch as the piranha bites are taken by millions of people who want to comment on “the crazy guy who wrote a long suicide note.” This is one of the forums that seems to be populated with respectful, humane adults. I think Mitch would be very happy reading this page. This is the conversation he was probably looking for. Thank you.

  • http://twitter.com/namdlogd David

    The fact that Heisman is supposed to have been Jewish, supposed to have killed himself last Saturday on Yom Kippur, and his domain name registration for suicidenote.info runs out in 2012 has me trending towards hoax.

    • RK

      This was not a hoax. I can testify to that as I am a lifelong friend of Mitch and his family. I can also say that he was most definitely Jewish as I attended his Bar Mitzvah. He may not have been practicing but he definitely was raised this way.

      Mitch was a gentle and brilliant soul. As perplexing as he may have been, I can say that he was great fun to be around and talk to. Despite his advanced views and intelligence, he never made you feel foolish. He was always patient and willing to explain his thoughts. I can’t say I’m ultimately shocked by what he did, however. It’s a true loss, mostly to his friends and family, that he won’t be around. I will miss my friend and only wish I could have spent more time with him once he moved away from NJ.

  • Gtllama99

    He’s fixated throughout on interpreting world history through the Normans. Can’t say I quite understand this, and that’s where I say the mania starts to show.

  • nobody

    He reminds me of myself, but more intelligent. This is what happens when you dwell on anything and everything too much. The more you do it, the more you start seeing how insignificant everything is, which is ultimately the reality of things, from a universal perspective. I’ve been doing this for almost a decade, it dominates my life and affects me in many ways. I’ve contemplated suicide many times, and still do. It’s nothing but a downward spiral.

    Human life seems to be one giant exercise in distraction, society reflects that. The more you think about life itself and the reality of things, and have enough intelligence to fuel the fire, and nothing to lean on, the harder it becomes.

    The only difference between me and him is hope. Hope that someday I’ll find a soulmate, which I think is what life is really about. Something that I currently perceive as being my missing distraction, and will hopefully someday evolve into me starting to live my goddamn life.

    rip, stranger.

    I’ll leave you with my favorite quote; ignorance is bliss.

    • somebody

      there are two responses to that article that gave me a bit to think mull over- i copy/paste them below after my response. i agree with :2 – Scott: in that it is disturbing people are looking at this awful event more as a testimonial work of an intelligent man and overriding that he was likely mentally ill and did not have adequate support. while i agree with the hope that :1 – nobody: attempts to express, the pathology in today’s modern Western world is that even the hope that is left is pinned on one soulmate. the thing is that that is just too much pressure to put on one person for your own happiness and faith in life love and living. by doing that you set yourself up for disappointment because the chances of finding that type of love is slim by virtue of the rarefied search parameters – and if you are lucky to obtain it- then fleeting- as it will not be sustainable. there is no happily ever after with one person. that is a myth. you have to actively learn to love yourself and find that love reflected in many people. that is community, healthy, soulful loving… the loving of our ancestors, infused with wisdom, that we are fast forgetting and, for increasingly many, have sadly, never learned. both responses make me face again how lonely and alienated people are who live just next door, or even, work at our corner bookstore.

      :1:

      nobody [Moderator] 1 day ago
      He reminds me of myself, but more intelligent. This is what happens when you dwell on anything and everything too much. The more you do it, the more you start seeing how insignificant everything is, which is ultimately the reality of things, from a universal perspective. I’ve been doing this for almost a decade, it dominates my life and affects me in many ways. I’ve contemplated suicide many times, and still do. It’s nothing but a downward spiral.

      Human life seems to be one giant exercise in distraction, society reflects that. The more you think about life itself and the reality of things, and have enough intelligence to fuel the fire, and nothing to lean on, the harder it becomes.

      The only difference between me and him is hope. Hope that someday I’ll find a soulmate, which I think is what life is really about. Something that I currently perceive as being my missing distraction, and will hopefully someday evolve into me starting to live my goddamn life.

      rip, stranger.

      I’ll leave you with my favorite quote; ignorance is bliss.

      :2:

      Scott [Moderator] 2 days ago
      this particular instance of suicide (sad–i hope the family, friends, and witnesses are ok) demonstrates that mental illness isn’t always as obvious as the guy who publicly reveals his pathology by screaming at things that don’t exist–it could be the guy who publicly reveals his pathology in a 1,905 page-long seemingly intellectual pursuit. no, i haven’t read the whole thing (and won’t), but i have read enough pages to notice the essentially unfalsifiable hypothesis, false premises/logical fallacies, and how his mental illness was manifesting itself in the midst of sane-sounding SAT word soup. that IvyGate/anyone would call it “deeply intelligent” and imply that it was “intellectual curiosity” as opposed to mental illness that led him to suicide disturbs me. of course, it could always be a willful misunderstanding (by IvyGate) aimed at stirring up publicity and drumming up controversy, or a mistaken assumption that anything that sounds scholarly and has lots of big words in it must be “deeply intelligent”, or an honest opinion that I can’t relate to.

      mental illness is a delicate subject and sadly afflicts many people without its being known. i only wish that this story would not be reported as an impressive tome left behind by a tortured scholar but more realistically as a sad case of another person lost to mental illness (though his suicide note was very atypical).

    • level

      The best way to find a “soul mate” or partner is to BE SOMEONE WORTH MATING WITH. You won’t find a good quality partner if you are moping and depressed and hiding out all day, and you haven’t actually “started to live your life.” Ugh, who wants that? Work at being interesting and worth spending time with. The partner will be drawn to you.

  • Will

    This reminds me much more of Dostoevsky’s character of Kirillov from “Demons,” Camus discusses his suicide-wish in “The Myth of Sisyphus.” One can be intelligent and mentally ill at the same time, and but he did have a point, suicide is the ultimate act of nihilism.

  • Patrick

    To the person who said he was a crackpot for focusing on the Normans… I have to say that the Norman conquest is very significant when it comes to the psychology of the English people and he may have been right about the Norman conquest as having a psychological impact on the founding ideals of The United States.

  • Anonymous

    Could not his ‘work’ (crass quotations marks I know) be ‘suppressed’ by simple virtue of that fact that no one any longer has the time or willpower to wade through 1,905 pages and 1,455 footnotes just to see if you can argue about “the seditious genius” of “Jesus’ penis” coherently?

    http://scallywagandvagabond.com/2010/09/mitchell-heismans-1905-page-harvard-suicide-note-and-why-we-care-about-it/

  • Scott

    It’s an intellectual, moral and philosophical cop out to say that all suicide is due to mental illness. Suicide is often a rational choice by a sane person.

    • Thomas

      Well said. I would also like to point out that the assertion that anyone who chooses death over life is obviously ‘mentally ill’ just highlights the “viviocentrism” Heisman was concerned with. So it goes…

  • Big Al

    I can’t believe that you all are indulging this guy’s delusions. He may have “conquered his fear of death”, but he couldn’t figure out how to live a meaningful life. If he were as smart as everyone seems to think, he would know that no one was going to take seriously his 2000 pages of academic mastrubation except for a few 19-year old sophomoric pseudo-intellectuals who think they know everything because they took an Intro to Existentialism class at Yale. He was mentally ill, but obviously too proud to seek help.

  • Blacky

    I’ve actually took the time to read through his work. His logic is correct… but applies only to him.
    If you have time read through it, it’s not that bad.

    • http://raverat.wordpress.com/ raverat

      Logic that is applicable only to one person is not called logic–it’s a personal opinion.

      • Blacky

        If it is only self-applicable, but in this case it is not. It is applicable to him through what he has done, but independent of him as an individual. If someone else will do something similar (write 2000 pages of philosophical reflection), it is likely they will reach the same conclusion -> suicide.

        • http://raverat.wordpress.com/ raverat

          You think that he is the only one who wrote an opus on philosophy that is that extensive? Many others(Sartre, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer) have indited more than 2000 pages of philosophical reflections, but this does not mean that the conclusions they made ended in suicide. I agree that his work is impressive, but it is not logical, at least in the few hundred pages that I’ve read so far.

          • Blacky

            I had my fair share of philosophy, which is never “enough”. Maybe we have a misunderstanding on the definition of “logic”. I consider logic a process, if such a process starts from wrong or incomplete assumptions (in this case I strongly inclined towards the incomplete) of course the conclusions may be … at least to say surprising.

  • Christianarchisti

    Why are all of you still alive anyways. The current process of auto erotic asphyxiation you’ve chosen to die to is a little different than his. The whole world is hoping you all die all together now and really soon. You satanic rothschild monarchy owned fake democractic cluster fucked 50 tribes aren’t any real country. I have no hope for you. Y’all love to be as much like satan as possible, and generally that leads to everyone else de siring you all dead. You don’t mind if I wait until the rothschilds have thoroughly looted america’s future and invested the money in the CRIB well into the next millenium before doing y’all a favor and removing them. Y’all won’t be around much longer so it’s a good idea you’ve begun to grasp some of the subtle points about being dead. GOD is going to wipe america off the face of the Universe, and the rest of us are going to finish off taking care of who ever else american happens to be attempting to live in hiding outside of continental america. Technically I should refer to y’all as what ever’s because you don’t fit the definition of human to be a who ever. What is Prescott Bush and why was he convicted of trading secrets with the enemy ? You’ll be dying for him and George the IV Bush. You aren’t a democracy, you are a monarchy and you have no clue about yourselves the usa , satan america and the illuminatti bankers for the rothschild monarchy, the worst child murderers and mass murderers of the world. The united states of america is satan and lovin it.

    christianarchisti was here again, ain’t halloweenie funny

  • Mikeokim

    People tend to think himself deeply when he is losing in this competetive society. He would have seen or experienced the unvoiable sufferings from the conflicts of real world while living with such problems in as making money,meeting nonconscious things, worldly matters, corrupt society, untrue loves, fraud etc. All things surrounding him is a real matter. All men have to live getting over this intrinsic complex. He must have attempted to prvoe himself to get over this destiny to avoid where we are living in the world of no dreams. That’s sad. He is a real man.

  • Anonymous

    How strange to cite that passage from the Phaedo on the front page when other parts of the text discourage suicide. “We men are in a prison,” says Socrates, and “one must not free oneself or run away. … The gods are our guardians and … men are one of their possessions” (62b).

    Also, did anyone notice that a commenter under the name Mheisman posted a link to the suicide note in a comment on a previous post on this blog on September 23?

  • GuyfromSerbia

    RIP Mitchell,i have found this site when learning and reading about Rothschild building an hidden empire,imho 500 ppl rulle the world … guy from Serbia