A Dormitory Without An Alarm Clock

His final message: “As to me, I leave tomorrow for an unknown destination”. Ambrose Bierce, author, Civil War Hero and journalist, then went to Mexico and disappeared. He was never seen again. It was 1913, and the sprightly 71-year-old chronic asthmatic with an acerbic tongue and pen vanished, as they say, into thin air.

Ambrose Bierce, 1842-1913, author of The Devil's Dictionary

No one has solved this mystery. There are only two possibilities. Death, like his hero Peyton Farquhar in Bierce’s ‘An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge’. Or voluntary seclusion in warm climes with a tequila or two, you know, until, finally, eternal Nirvana beckons.

Did a man like Bierce, whose motto apparently was “Nothing matters“, think about what happens after you, you know, die? I went to his own book for help. The Devil’s Dictionary. Surely there are clues there. I looked at his definition of Oblivion: “The state or condition in which the wicked cease from struggling and the dreary are at rest. Fame’s eternal dumping ground. Cold storage for high hopes. A place where ambitious authors meet their works without pride and their betters without envy. A dormitory without an alarm clock“. Whoa. For Bierce the concept of Oblivion was harsh. Unpleasant and unattractive. ┬áMany would not find his Oblivion a noble end.

Dormitory, Smolny Institute, St Petersbug, Russia. Constructed 1806. Not an alarm clock in sight

Well, what about his thoughts on Nirvana:. “In the Buddhist religion, a state of pleasurable annihilation awarded to the wise, particularly to those wise enough to understand it“. Now we’re talking. Uber-meditation on earth morphing into supreme Nirvana for eternity. Yep. Definitely. That’s him. And that’s for me too. Let’s look at his definition again; “…particularly to those wise enough to understand it“. There’s nothing much to understand, is there? It’s, you know, er, Nirvana…the Void…neither being nor non-being….(?)

Now that I think about it, ‘a dormitory without an alarm clock‘ is starting to look good.

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