Readersforum's Blog

May 27, 2013

A Writing Class Focused on Goodbyes

By CHADWICK MOORE
“The suicide note — and I’m being deadly earnest — is moving, strange, harrowing and peculiar literature,” said Simon Critchley, an author and philosophy professor at the New School. “People’s interest in them is almost pornographic.”

Mr. Critchley was teaching a class billed as a “Suicide Note Writing Workshop,” part of a monthlong series of performances, installations and lectures called the School of Death and sponsored by Cabinet Magazineand the Family Business exhibition space on West 21st Street. The glass doors to his storefront classroom were flung open to the chilly rain falling outside, inviting passers-by to stop, listen, and sometimes contribute to the discussion.

The pop-up school came about as a smart-alecky reaction to a program in London called the School of Life, which Mr. Critchley described as “a particularly nauseating philosophy of self-help.”

“It’s also a way of mocking creative-writing workshops,” Mr. Critchley, 53, said. “We’re not mocking suicide. We’re doing this as a way to understand it. And why not be a little insensitive? People are terrified in talking about death.”

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