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Self Destruct


Nirvana is the final extinguishing of the last vestiges of any notion of ‘I’ or ‘me’ or ‘mine’. It is the final destruction. The end of the conditions for new life.

We are now approaching the culmination of my forty days in this Tower and while I am still a long way from destroying myself completely, that is my ultimate aim.

So, in this spirit of self renunciation, I am now offering myself.

I believe it would be inconsistent of me to consider my person as having a special status in this collection of objects. So I now offer myself to you as the final object.

On August 5th, at the end of the 40 days, anyone who cares to may take me.

I promise to do my best to give myself fully. I undertake to do whatever I am asked by this new curator. They may treat me me exactly as they wish. My fate will be in their hands.

The kind of relationship this person wants to create will be up to them. They may use me purely for their own purposes, or they may choose to consider whatever fears and desires I may still have. The choice will be theirs.

For my part I will offer myself as a gift and attempt to observe the surrender of what I have normally considered to be mine.

Because you may have to make travel arrangements to come and collect me, I am giving you a few days to come forward with your proposals. Once all proposals have been gathered you will have 24 hours, from midnight to midnight (GMT+1) on Wednesday 5th August, to vote for one amongst these proposals. The recipient of this final item is then free to come and collect it at any time thereafter.

In the event that no one comes forward I will continue to work alone towards my own extinction.

25 Comments leave one →
  1. M.E. Montenegro permalink
    31/07/2009 12:56 pm

    There is no such thing as extinction. For, non-existence is not possible to be it. One form or another of being, alone.

  2. Bodger permalink
    31/07/2009 1:18 pm

    I’d quite like a hermit of my own.

    Not sure where I’d have space to put you (the cupboard under the stairs being something of a Harry Potter-like affair).

    Unlike most of the other offerings, you’d need feeding, clothing and shelter. How would you earn your keep?

  3. M.E. Montenegro permalink
    31/07/2009 6:29 pm

    “I undertake to do whatever I am asked by this new curator. They may treat me exactly as they wish. My fate will be in their hands.”

    Why? If your new curator asks you to slaughter a lamb will you do it? Will your presumed achievement of nirvana have caused you to lose your own moral imperative? Do you conceive of nirvana as a lack of will, alongside a lack of a sense of “me” or “mine?” Will you answer to your name when called? Or will your selflessness have erased your memory of the provisional self (collection of moving parts upon which your name is ascribed) that remains?

  4. Katy Marks permalink
    31/07/2009 9:01 pm

    I liked your box of unclaimed labels…
    I wonder what would happen if rather than destroy or keep the selected objects, you just swapped the labels. Would anyone notice? Maybe they’d have to question for the first time where something really came from, what it is really worth, how it really could’ve come to be in that museum.

    But I love the way your magnifying glass is being passed over all those objects, magnifying them, making each one singular and special. It’s incredible how drawers and drawers of fossils are so dull as to remain unlooked at and unloved in the museum, but if a child picked up something even half as interesting whilst walking on a beach it would be the most exciting thing they’d seen all day… I’d love to put all those fossils on a beach and watch people find them.

    If you feel in danger of extinction, we could always re-label you. You looked quite good dressed up as an earwig.

  5. Anasua permalink
    31/07/2009 9:56 pm

    My limited knowledge of yoga is only through books – so forgive my ignorance but read Patanjali’s comment (translated by Swami Veda Bharati)

    “Ignorance, I-am-ness, attachment, aversion, fear of seperation from body (fixation of body continuity or death) are the five afflictions.

    The afflictions or Kleshas being the “block” for nirvana or freedom from the cycle of births and deaths.

    Ok – maybe more “serious” comment than needed but that is the emotion this has evoked. That’s it!

  6. Julian Vincent permalink
    31/07/2009 10:16 pm

    To the fossilophilist all fossils are beautiful. And they are all over the beach. Only the fossilophilistine can’t see them! Those drawers in the museum are our practising ground for the reality which appears all around us when we are outside the museum. Removed from their context the objects are salient and obvious like flashcards. In context they are difficult to see because that is the definition of context.

  7. trine permalink
    01/08/2009 11:06 am

    50 trine // Aug 1, 2009 at 10:46 am

    the insight about the sociogram exercise is vivid.

    and as to new consciousness, i too have wondered long and hard about news and medias,and the apparent bias.

    with the emphasis on outer appearanced presentation,is after all only a small aspect of the whole process,much exists but is not visible.

    Obviously as with your blog the appearance is not all of the form nor the form all of all… maybe the ‘negative’,isnt as it appears, but rather something other?

    a matter of perception,and percieving……
    self destruct is quite a challenge,how to relate?

    the entry above is now posted on lynne mc taggarts intention experiment site,which can be accessed via google,and while iwas scribing it the relevancy to this blog occurred,and its now imported.
    the objects which you have selected are in their way imports,exported form their original context,and stored…perhaps we too? are museaum pieces, artifacts,barely revealed,but commented upon..collections of anecdotes.
    lynnes blog expresses concern about reportage in the medias,and the recurrent disaster movie theme, which occurred at the millenium and now with 2012,another sinking to the titanic?i dont think so,so as i dont think so even when i too join in such as i do,like disaster movies,but they arent real.

    welcome to self destruct,happy days,and thanks for the opportunity you and your sponsors have created,quite a muse for musers.

  8. Tom Stephenson permalink
    01/08/2009 11:59 am

    I don’t think there’s any need for you to hasten the process of self-extinction – it’ll happen soon enough anyway, and I’m not sure anyone would want to take you on as a mere shell of your former self.

    But – if you are intent of disposing of yourself in as constructive way as possible, maybe my first suggestion would be best – that you are stuffed and mounted, then put on display downstairs, like old Mr Bentham – but it would be an insult to your creator to hurry the process of corporal destruction, I think, especially as you spend so much time keeping yourself in such good shape.

    I can envisage generations of children walking past you in the foyer of the museum, their grandparents saying “I used to talk to him when he was upstairs in the tower”, and I’m sure you wouldn’t want to set a precedent for future Hermits in the tower – for a start, the museum may not have the storage space, unless every alternate Hermit ritually destroys the second stuffed one.

    • Tom Stephenson permalink
      01/08/2009 12:19 pm

      Sorry, but it’s just occurred to me what how egotistical it is to wish for the elimination of your own ego, but I suppose that’s just the nature of the game. You used to be a drama student – how funny that most actors become the ego-centric people through the process of emptying themselves in order to take on another character!

  9. mal permalink
    01/08/2009 3:26 pm

    I claim this hermit for the purpose of performance… I unfortunately can’t collect, though, do you deliver?

  10. Lou permalink
    02/08/2009 12:14 pm

    You as a human being cannot be allowed to abdicate from the resposibility of trying to fulfill your potential. Looking at the objects has reminded us that we are mostly “asleep” to what we have and that we need to wake up. But their job is done, yours is not. Therefore I claim you because you hve more to do. Also, because you are the father of my grandchildren and they need you. Iwill send someone to collect you.

    • 04/08/2009 12:16 pm

      Hello Lou,
      Not sure what you mean by fulfilling my potential. Surely the less of my selfish desire there is, the more of the world fills this space?
      You clearly have a job for me. Great! Put me to work.
      As for your grandchildren, it seems to me that what they need is space to grow. If I can keep my own hopes and fears out of their way, they might have a chance to fully realize their own.
      If you mean that they need me to provide food and shelter, a sympathetic ear and a non-judgemental gaze, then I am perfectly ready to give exactly that. That is entirely consistent with my vow to attempt selfless service.
      To be honest I can think of no better people to serve than my beautiful son and daughter.

  11. 02/08/2009 3:45 pm

    He’s sounding rather drastic,——? ? ?
    I wonder what kind of Buddhism he is talking ?
    Extinction of the ego is just one step nearing to
    the Nirvana. It is not the Nirvana itself.
    If to achieve selflessness is the Nirvana, all
    the enlightened people is the dead man.
    Selflessness and self sacrifice is not the same AT ALL.
    To live and act without self, realizes the condition,
    live as a part of the Dharma.
    And as the deed, if one could have lived in one’s
    maximum potential which was given by the Dharma,
    the one can attain the Nirvana.

  12. trine permalink
    03/08/2009 12:45 pm

    excuisite corpse,you offer your self.
    For reincarnation,the Hermit Metamorphs,quite an object,to be somenoe elses objective.
    ive enough objects in collection,stored,and as an object of contemplationand activity you your self,in storage for fourty days and nights. are you boroken ? No,then amanded;added to,in ways which you only know currently?and what will be your emergent form..artist unboxed?A towering release?
    the same or subtly different,understood or, perhaps misidentified and mis categorised.The archeology week taught me identification is not an exact science.
    and what of objects not on show,they remain stored and boxed, waiting for/
    a new naarrative? that stone had a voice and presence evebn after many centuaries,it still retained some spirit of its use,beyond the form and shaping,some art invisible and yet/
    how can museaums histories speak? how storied,and how narrated?
    so many sacrements,so amny transformations,what art can be made of bits and pieces,what sense of brokne forms/especiallyin an over administered over categorised tick box must fit computer scanned,looked over cult,what will emerge?

    and im about to die time up,

  13. visitor permalink
    03/08/2009 12:52 pm

    My comment applies to all the objects in the Museum. It is not just their appearance, but the story attached to them that makes them interesting/ important or educational. Yet the story alone is not sufficient, because few people would stand and read them.

    Yet with advancing technology some exhibits, like you and your story, can be combined into an electronic record.

  14. 04/08/2009 1:26 am

    so you are “deaccessioning” yourself? it’s kind of like a metaphor for death itself. will your ancestors fight to have your remains repatriated to the hermit’s nest? or fight for reparations paid for each of the 40 days lost to the tower.

    I’ve heard of museums having a free-admission day every month or so but giving away a free hermit?

    • 04/08/2009 12:26 pm

      yes, death as the ultimate de-accessioning.

      Or perhaps it’s the museum that’s full of dead things, as Anne Bean said in an earlier comment, quoting from the Futurist Manifesto.

      Perhaps it’s only in giving yourself away that you truly come alive.

  15. Katy Marks permalink
    04/08/2009 8:55 am

    Even if you are prepared for your own extinction in the event that no-one comes to collect you… extinction would not be possible because you are part of many people’s lives already. You can’t choose to drag yourself out of this interconnected world by your own will. Neither can you give yourself over to another life – to someone/somewhere else completely. You are not yours to give.

    Others would have to decide to let you go. The bodies and minds and emotions of the people who love you and whom you love are part of you. So I don’t think you can offer yourself like that. Whoever claims you will only get a part of you, a hollow body and a fragment of your intellect.

    So I don’t claim you, because you are not being given.

    I’m getting married on the 22nd August and so am thinking a lot about this. Am I giving myself? Am I being given away? Am I becoming one with someone else? Or am I – are we both just growing so that we gently overlap? As I am musing over all this, you are considering your own extinction and/or passing yourself over to something or someone else for who knows how long?

    So I don’t claim you, but I invite you very seriously and sincerely as a lone hermit to come with the whole of you, your loves, reluctance, fear, awkwardness, everything – to offer your thoughts and time and your music to the togetherness of all of you and all of us.

    • 04/08/2009 1:06 pm

      It’s the small part of me that clings on that I’m looking forward to the extinction of. The Golem who is only concerned for his precioussss.
      And I don’t have to drag myself away from any interconnectedness by force of will. On the contrary it is my will that keeps me from being fully connected.
      My desire for a nice rosewood or ebony fretboard on my guitar is what decimates the forests of Madagascar. If I let go of my will I might feel more compassionate towards the frog whose home I destroy – and the lemur and the traditional farmer, and, and, and.

      As for living on in others. Those who I remember most fondly, who live in my heart and inspire me to greater things, are the people who have worked out of love for others, not for themselves.

      Whoever gets me may decide to give me themselves.

      Marriage is one of the most beautiful and difficult promises we ever make. It is the arena in which we learn unselfishness. Otherwise it’s hell. And the promise has to be forever, otherwise you could just give up when it gets tough.

      It’s generally accepted that a relationship in which one thinks only of one’s own gain is not much fun.
      A relationship in which one thinks of both oneself and the other seems more friendly. A balanced selfishness.
      But imagine thinking only of the other person’s welfare. Imagine giving someone else joy and pleasure, not with the idea that it’ll be my turn later but just for the sake of giving.
      Now imagine that giving flowing in both directions, so that everything you receive is received as a gift.
      That’s an ecstatic dance. There is no self in that, just the dance.

      But none of us is that loving automatically, particularly once the first flush of romance has worn off. Unselfishness has to be learned by long trial and error.

      It takes maturity to be neither a tyrant nor a doormat. I think being selfless is about as grown up as you can. In my experience there’s no greater thing than the joy of surrendering fully to a mutual embrace.

  16. ruth permalink
    04/08/2009 9:21 am

    Hello Ansuman,
    Stepping in on the tail end of your stay at the tower. what a shame I’ve missed the rest. I’ve been too busy dancing…

    I’m Feeling decidedly uncomfortable about you offering yourself. My head’s blowing a fuse over this one. (Dipping back into some of the other days’ posts, I find a similar feeling)
    Do you own yourself to the extent that you are able to offer yourself up?
    But then that question could be posed on behalf of all other things offered previously.
    I also feel moved to put in a word on behalf of your children who cannot write yet, and this instantly leads me to all the other beings who would have needed someone to speak on behalf of them with regards to any of the other objects.
    The door to lots of big thinking opens with force – and it’s quite uncomfortable.

    Thank you

  17. Jem Finer permalink
    04/08/2009 2:23 pm

    Tempting fate or what ?

    Lest you fall into the hand(s) of someone whose hands one wouldn’t want to fall into, and to return you to the place that I imagine would welcome you most, I will happily arrange for your collection (can’t do it myself I’m afraid as I’m abroad)and subsequent delivery back to your family.

    Sorry if this sounds terribly old fashioned and boring but to me it’s a no brinaer, oops, I mean no brainer.

    If I were a hermit I can think of no place I’d rather go. Or be given to. In the spirit of the enterprise I take full responsibility.

    You have been brilliant by the way.

  18. 07/08/2009 1:09 pm

    gratefulness you for your dope and it helped me in preparing my college assignment.


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