There’s a lot being written on the suicide of Anthony Bourdain. It is obvious his death—and impossible-to-know reason for it—has affected many. For many Americans, he represented the two main projected values of American society: he was both his own man—a good man, at that—while also being a massive commercial success story. “The American Dream,” as it were.

What breaks my heart about all of this is how the questions that remain all exist within the framework of the American part of that dream, whereas dreaming is far more important than America. When tragedy happens, proposed solutions always apply first to maintaining America’s existential structure before actually helping those in need. When a successful celebrity takes their own life, is it call to focus on mental health? Or is it that our nature of capitalism and individualism has created a system to which even the most successful still feel stuck at the end of an isolated road of despair?

To many Americans, Bourdain ‘had it all’ and so for him to die in this fashion is an overwhelming tragedy. Yet ‘having it all’ is exactly the problem: our root idea of that excess in wealth—of material success and individual celebrity—are parts of a valuable life is a grotesque and anti-social concept. Capitalism relies on the kind-hearted success stories like Bourdain to re-affirm there are ‘opportunities’ for good people under its boot, when really our disdainful culture does little to nothing for most of them.

He was one of the few lucky souls who was able to explore the world, and he knew it. For whatever reason he believed his time was up, we will never know. But I am growing weary of so many ways to ‘help’ the ill within an increasingly narrow American value system whose primary goal is to separate and commodify people. He was a profound man but his loss is not if our society simply goes on reinforcing the culture of the individual that his work so consistently showed to be a falsehood.

Posted to Social at 07:57 on 9 June 2018

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