Mitchell Heisman, 35, quoted Thomas Jefferson, Friedrich Nietzsche and Albert Einstein as he attempted to explain his motives in the rambling missive, which included a lengthy preface and 1,433 footnotes.
Heisman put the encyclopedia-sized note online and asked that the Web page be kept up after his death, so that everyone could know his feelings about life and the universe.
“I propose opening your mind towards the liberation of death; towards exposing the blind faith in life as a myth, a bias, and an error,” he wrote.
Heisman arranged to send delayed e-mails to about 400 friends with a link to the rambling farewell before he fired a bullet from a silver revolver into his head at Memorial Church in the Harvard Yard in front of about 20 people touring the campus last Saturday.
Friends who scanned the note tried to reach him to talk him out of it, but it was too late.
The massive document contains little information about his life, but includes many long passages touching on issues such as Jesus, the Battle of Hastings in 1066, sociology and the First Amendment.
“If my hypothesis is correct, this work will be repressed,” he surmised on the first page.
The note ends with a 19-page list of sources and the comment “What good suicide note would be complete without a bibliography?”
Heisman, who grew up in Monroe, NJ, told his friends and mother, Lonni Heisman, 76, that he was looking forward to completing his enormous research on a book.
“All I knew was he was finishing his book and he was happy about that,” she told the Harvard Crimson newspaper.
“I’m devastated. I just can’t believe it,” she said. “I don’t think I ever will.”
The document, posted at www.suicidenote.info, makes convoluted claims about democracy, Hitler, Jews, Christians, the American Revolution, and what he called “Jesus’s penis of the spirit.”
Heisman dryly prefaces the document by saying, “I will likely be unable to defend its content.”
Heisman, who lived in Somerville, Mass., graduated from the University of Albany with a BA in psychology. He worked in several Boston-area bookstores and was able to work on his farewell note thanks to an inheritance from his father, an engineer who died when Heisman was 12.
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