Scott Hutchison And Suicide
rock nyc have written about Frightened Rabbit a number of times, Alyson Camus reviewed a live show (here) and his band Frightened Rabbit made it into my top albums of 2016. I wrote about Painting Of A Panic Attack, “I have never been a fan of this Scottish indie band, but somewhere over the years they’ve added backbone to their dreamy anxious pop sound. Mark Deming claims 2013’s Pedestrian Verse was the breakthrough, but I hear it on “I Wish I Was Sober” and especially “An Otherwise Disappointing Life” -gateway drugs to a very beautiful and sad yet strong album.” And that is where I started after Frightened Rabbits Scott Hutchison’s suicide was revealed on Thursday. Then I went backwards and listened to his earlier stuff only to be surprised to discover how great it was, especially The Midnight Organ Fight from 2007, a heartbreaker of an album that I completely missed.
It might have to do with mood. If The Midnight Organ Fight had arrived in 2005 or 2006, when I went through almost 18 months straight of extreme depression, I might have gotten it, but I was on the other side by then.
But lately, I’ve felt that cold damp hand on my shoulder again, and so as I went to do my due diligence, the band spoke to me as it hadn’t before.
The problem with life isn’t that it is good or bad but that it is irrelevant, that as you gloss over your life stuck in a meaningless daydream of relevance, it creeps on you from a sense of unsuspected horror of subjectivity. I have had thoughts of suicide, not mine but more in general, buzzing in the back of my mind since the 24 year old soul singer Lael Summer Feldman killed herself last year (my remembrance here), even wrote an exceedingly unread short story about it “Swimming Pools” (here) and in her negation of life there seemed to be a disconnect between what she was experiencing and the way she saw what she was experiencing. There is no getting away from the essential uselessness of life, religion might help do a degree, and also the completely democratic nature of death helps a little, but if you are in pain because the quality of your soul is compromised by the relentless sullying of existence, perhaps you can only save yourself by leaving it. I think Scott and Lael shared that, existence was wreaking havoc on their souls.
I am not that, what bothers me is a more of an old man’s sickness, a weariness and a desire to not participate, a tiredness that feels like an ache. It also doesn’t happen often but when it gets me in its grips all I can do is retreat and treat it much like getting the flu, give it a little time and it will go away. The last two times it was very bad was the early part of 2006 when my cat died, and the summer of 2010 when my mother (who I spoke to a total of three times and met twice in the final 30 years of her life) died.
I count two things for the long gap between depressions, first I stopped drinking and alcohol is a deadly depressant and next the love of a good woman: what helps there is you keep seeing yourself through her eyes, which isn’t bad.
But the narrowing of a life, the solipsistic self regard which pretends to be self loathing, can knock upon your door when you least want it. When you want to be mentally strong, you don’t have it. Scott said this in an interview: “I’m a solid six out of 10. I’m drawn to negatives in life, and I dwell on them, and they consume me. If I get a couple of days a week at a seven, fuck, it’s great.” Back in one of my worst depressions (the longest was in my 20s when I was relentlessly unhappy from the age of 24 to the age of 29), I would give my days a number everyday and had decided that if I dipped below 2 on average for a month I would kill myself. Then I did and, obviously, I didn’t. I wrote an entire novel about two friends who decided to kill themselves back in 1988, it was called “The Positive Touch”. The only real reason I can think of for living is that I want to know what happens next.
The problem about life is that the more you think about it, the more useless it becomes. Forget the unexamined life isn’t worth living, the examined life is worth ending. But not unlike Samuel Beckett, we won’t go on we go on… till we won’t go on anymore.