From Fyodor Dostoyevsky, “The Idiot”

tr Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky–letter written by a terminally-ill teenager, so Dostoyevsky is fully on-trend:

First of all, there is a strange thought here: who, in the name of what right, in the name of what motive, would now take it into his head to dispute my right to these two or three weeks of my term? What court has any business here? Who precisely needs that I should not only be sentenced, but should graciously keep to the term of my sentence? Can it really be that anyone needs that? For the sake of morality? If, in the bloom of health and strength, I were to make an attempt on my life, which “could be useful to my neighbor,” and so on, then I could understand that morality might reproach me, out of old habit, for having dealt with my life arbitrarily, or whatever. But now, now, when the term of the sentence has been read out to me? What sort of morality needs, on top of your life, also your last gasp, with which you give up the last atom of life, listening to the consolations of the prince, who is bound to go as far in his Christian reasoning that, essentially, it’s even better that you’re dying. (Christians like him always get to that idea; it’s their favorite hobbyhorse.) …

Religion! I do admit eternal life and perhaps have always admitted it. Let consciousness be lit up by the will of a higher power, let it look at the world and say: “I am!” and let the higher power suddenly decree its annihilation, because for some reason–or even without explaining for what reason–that is needed: let it be so, I admit all that, but again comes the eternal question: why is my humility needed here? Isn’t it possible simply to eat me, without demanding that I praise that which has eaten me?

your basic argument for euthanasia, run through the Infinite Jest filter (why do we keep that filter around? why did we build a corridor made of knives?)…


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