Friday, July 22, 2005

suicide notes

i've been away for too long- even if nobody missed me, i missed this. it's just that i can't go any further in setting up my computer until the wireless card arrives, and i figured since grims is still installing stuff on his new machine i should let him do that and only interrupt him for stuff i really need, so i've basically kept it down to checking email. but right now, while he plays playstation i get to sort through my thoughts and revisit this spot.
so i've been @ the radio station pretty solid, and one of my recent segments has me rethinking some shit.
as somebody who's considered suicide often, and came closer to it than i should've (neither recently), when i outgrew that stage (and i don't mean that to suggest anybody still considering is immature- it's just the right word for what happened to me) i found myself considering it an easy out, and somewhat unnatural, since it seems to go against the basic survival instinct us living creatures share (unless, of course, there's a terminal illness involved and nothing but pain and useless, expensive medical procedures left to experience). it's a concept i'm actually exploring in the novella i'm working on right now (not necessarily a novella, but it's way longer than i'd like a short story to be, and i have to call it something).
but this week i learned that our cells commit suicide all the time. it's a natural occurrence.
when cells outlive their usefulness, exceed the population quota, become injured/diseased, or just find themselves detached from their group and doing the wrong thing in the wrong place at the wrong time, they stop receiving survival signals from other cells, and the absence of those signals makes them commit suicide. some cells need to be told directly, and for them there's an actual suicide command; and within the immune system there are death receptors so that when the body's done fighting off an infection or other threat, excess white blood cells are told to commit suicide before they start attacking the body's tissues. basically, cells commit suicide so they don't become biological weapons against the body.
they commit suicide by sending out their own signal that releases lethal enzymes within the cell that cause nuclear and plasma membranes to collapse, and tells neighbouring cells to come scavenge the leftovers of the dead. they implode so they don't damage anybody else nearby.
but the microcosm is always the miniature of the macrocosm when it comes to natural process, which suggests that maybe suicide isn't an unnatural response. maybe when human beings decide they serve no purpose, or are too diseased to avoid becoming a detriment to the larger organism, it should be ok to collapse and have our leftovers fed back into the earth.
i may be about to do major revisions on my story (and brain) after i digest this fully, along with the other info i swallowed about cell signaling and how fucking with it causes degenerative illnesses like cancer, diabetes and multiple sclerosis, because i figure, more often than we do, nature knows what the fuck is up.

walk good. more fiction as soon as the wireless card comes through...

ps: if interested, the book is the language of life: how cells communicate in health and disease by debra niehoff (i think- i don't have it with me right now).


Blogger whitey said...

Stay useful.

1:09 am  
Blogger Jake said...

This is very interesting. I guess it's not so different from bees, who will sting something attacking their nest even though the act of stinging kills them.

But I'm trying to think of in-between examples here, from organisms closer to us biologically and socially. Do mammals (besides us) commit suicide? (And no, lemmings don't--that was a hoax.) If an old lion is getting to be a drag on the pride, does it off itself? I don't think I've ever heard of that kind of thing, but I could be wrong.

I think suicide the way we think of it could only occur in a being with a mind powerful enough to override the self-preservation instinct.

5:03 pm  

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