Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Era of the self-documented

What are we to make of Cho Seung-Hui's pre-rampage video?
  • What a nut.
  • What a fucking nut.
  • No matter how much it seems like other people are the cause of your misery, suffering is ultimately self-generated. Cho's martyrdom began and ended inside the walls of his own skull. The scary part is that we are no different. We generate our own drama, our own self-pitying attitudes, our own fantasies of persecution or heroism, in exactly the same way. Our only salvation is our connection to other people, which puts a reality check on our delusions and cultivates the essential sympathy for others that defines what we call "humanity." I think it's important to recognize that Cho's evil was not in what he had -- hate, resentment, anger, frustration -- but in what he lacked: the slightest sense that other people mattered.
  • Cho may have done us a favor by striking so many action-hero poses. Should we be surprised that all the images of gun-wielding power are embraced by those who feel powerless? I'm not saying that a violence-glorifying culture caused the tragedy . . . but those images are going to make it difficult for Hollywood to push its muscular fare for a few months. Suddenly, the stock image of "man with gun" has renewed horror.
  • Nonetheless, we should not blame the media. Every man with the slightest trace of testosterone saw that photo of Cho pointing a gun and the camera, and had the immediate mini-fantasy: "I wish I could have been there, with a gun, to blow that guy away." The violence, the urge to power, are a part of the masculine psyche, for better or worse. Again, it's not what was in Cho that caused the tragedy; it was what he lacked.



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