Victor C. Ariole
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change…”
– Charles Darwin
There seem to be change patterns every human being dreads to face or even recall in their memory so as to avoid suicide thought like being told you are approaching the Bermuda triangle. That could be a case where some people could decide the end has come without even contemplating it. Though, generally, it is said what make people commit suicide had been going on in their mind for quite some times and they remain on such grounds accident waiting to occur. It is also at a point no iota of happiness remains recallable.
Behavioural scientists have tried to create a paradigm of happiness so that people could be found at a given level of such paradigm and agree that there are still motivational aspirations to continue living but such scientists remain confused when certain suicidal phenomena occur. Like the Pope once said, happiness is making sure you are not the one making someone regret for ever coming to the world. So when Anthony Bourdain said what was reported in the FT, the dimensions needed to be unravelled. “My regrets will be more along the line of a sad list of people I’ve hurt, people let down, assets wasted and advantages squandered”. And this is where emotional rebooting ought to have intervened to avoid that suicide thought if only someone had noticed that.
The start point of where he went wrong could have been avoided noting that he was raised by a French man and not necessarily his biological parents. It is also a stunted emotional growth caused by weak basic physiological feed. Somehow, prison or hibernation – as security people say protecting you against harm – could be seen as blessing. Remember the cases of Mandela in the hands of apartheid, Rawlings in the hands of Ghanaian military Generals and even Obama as will be explained later. But the cases of Anthony Bourdain, The young albino medical doctor who plunged himself into the Lagos lagoon, and the reported Kru people who committed suicide during the slave trade periods are patterns of ‘most’ intelligent people or ‘strongest’ people who could not stand change occurrences very abhorrent to their genetic disposition. These are even patterns reminiscent of what the confessions of Abdul Mutallab the suicide bomber, represent, as he felt there was reason for him to feel sad when he found it difficult to relate himself with what he is taught and the poor people around his family home.
Like every beginning, it somehow announces strength or weakness, and it takes human beings to manage it to avoid disaster. Reading the biographies of Bill Clinton, Barrack Obama and to an extent that of Steve Jobs, one sees great sacrifices made by the women in their lives to rescue latent or impending suicide potency in their part ways to growth which seemed to be avoided or was not available to Bourdain and those mentioned who had the same experience.
The intelligence of Bourdain was not in doubt as he rose from a battered personality to reclaim himself towards stardom; as he used his show – parts unknown – which Obama sees as using food, a basic physiological need, to teach humans the ability to come together. Read also the mentioned doctor and his food habit as the mother remain present to discern and provide, as well as being an excellent medical student and even Abdul Mutallab’s view of men’s libido – product of quality food intake and what they do with it. Note that Bourdain visited Lagos and Kano not quite long and saw sad signs of inequalities. Somehow some of these people could not stand the image of humanity as they move on from one place to the other and it is as well unguarded emotional recall of Bermuda Triangle Syndrome Effect.
Noticing very well that he (Bourdain) was raised by a Frenchman and the same France known for its humanistic inclination since 1789 revolution turning a sore point of humanity with constant terror attacks here and there, could trigger Bermuda Syndrome Effect in him. It is just the same way it was reported that Steve Jobs visited the Mediterranean area at the time people said his biological father lived there and no one could tell the effect on him; against or for a father he never knew or care to know whether he existed, just as he avoided relating effectively with an estranged partner who felt she could have been a rescuer of his bad memory.
It takes indeed a motherly intervention, either as direct or surrogate mother, grandmother or wife to get a person keep off the bermuda syndrome thought. It is rarely a fatherly intervention hence a rethink process for die hard feminist.
Reading the biography of Ann Durham, Obama’s mother, narrated by Janny Scott, one notices sad moments that could have led to candidates for suicide as Ann and the mother struggled to face the challenges the young Obama presented to them. It was greatly managed by that grandmother who Obama visited in Honolulu on her sickbed as Obama raised back to the mainland to be crowned the president of USA.Without doubt Obama himself acknowledged in his book the relay rescue mission that Michelle represented as well as their meeting point, a church.
The one that touched me most was how Obama’s grandmother handled a critical emotional part as parts of the parts unknown so as to avoid the bermuda slip or is it Freudian Oedipus complex disaster.Father Obama came visiting in Hawaii and needed to distance himself from the family home of the Durhams hence stayed in a guest house. Even at that Father Obama’s laundry and food were handled by the Durhams and delivered to the guest house by little Obama.
The same motherly care goes for Bill Clinton who recently announced that her mother would have kept smacking him for five days if he did any badmouthing of people as a child the way his current president is doing. The mother took him away from bad experience of a biological father and it was hard to forget and Hillary came in as a reliable rescue relay personality in his life, part of a reason why Chimamanda would not know why Hilary kept ‘wife’ as first thing in her biodata. Since the days of Bill as governor of Arkansas the issue had always been
Hilary; either as a mere manager of NGO funds or a woman keeping her maiden name and still answering the wife of Bill for independence sake and surviving one alleged scandal or the other as Bill remained faithful. From their college days they have known each other as capable of making the waves of happiness and sadness be steadied. That is strength and weakness ever finding complemetarity and being well managed even at the edge of suicidal thought. In deed some cases needed to be studied to help people avoid suicidal thoughts.
These are issues that were not well managed by the estranged partners of both Bourdain and Jobs in this era where humans seem to be graduating into a super ego of ‘psychoficials’. Somehow the human neurons have guided their emotions during complete natural set up as instincts ruled greatly for the great ones among them. It moved to psychosocial as humans saw mostly in others who they ought to be or not to be and conquerors described others as civilised or not. Now, technology is redefining human emotions and somehow even being let alone in one’s own virtual world could either be sane or insane.
Like Sayata Murata, a Japanese writer, says in FT, being lonely does no more connote negativity. One could claim being with people and could deeply in himself be lonely the way Graca Machel once described Mandela before they became couple. So it took that motherly intervention to see that aspect of the man.
The point is that even when Bourdain mixed very well with people and bringing humanity together with food he was not happy with their state and he felt really lonely in that thought and saw it greatly magnified in Paris, France, once the bastion of great expression of humanistic living and the best place to claim freedom in either political or social asylum (pays d’asile). May his soul rest in peace and may France return to what its founding 5th republic fathers in the persons of General Charles de Gaulle and George Pompidou expected of it.
Ariole is a Professor of French and Francophone Studies, University of Lagos