Saturday, August 16, 2008

Solzhenitsyn's comments on violence

Aleksander Solzhenitsyn, recently deceased Russian writer and thorn in Stalin's oversized paw, once said, "How can a man who is warm understand a man who is cold?" This is exactly why so many so-called examinations of the criminal mind fall short. Most members of the human race feel some level of empathy toward others, in varying degrees from person to person. But a murderer, serial killer or any other violent criminal does not. Like Dexter Morgan, protagonist of the greatest TV show in history (and I have learned that Season 2 will be out on DVD this Tuesday), says about himself, they feel nothing. Like Patrick Bateman in American Psycho, they're not "fully there." Bateman is conscious that he's putting on an act in his daily life, and the shallowness of his personality just happens to go unnoticed in 1980s era Wall Street. The question is, visible in the film but lost in the book among Brett Easton Ellis' heavy-handed writing style, is whether Bateman was driven to violence in the course of his empty materialistic life as a primal escape, or if he was born or made in childhood into a monster, and he found the shallow world of Wall Street an inconspicuous hiding spot for his superficial disguise. The rest of us, with our emotions and empathy, cannot fully understand what goes on in the heads of someone who can easily kill another person just for the thrill of it. When police interviewed Gary Ridgeway, the Green River Killer, and asked him why he killed, they were unsatisfied with his unsubstantial answer. Ridgeway said that he couldn't explain why he killed 49 women, and the best he could come up with was that he did it "because I wanted to kill them." The police wanted a more concrete response, because they couldn't understand that someone could kill so many innocent people without having thought about it. But to someone like Ridgeway, it may have been as natural an impulse as hunger or libido. And that is, fortunately, an incomprehensible impulse to the rest of us.
A side note: I was watching American Psycho last night, and found myself getting turned on. Either Christian Bale is so fucking hot that he can turn me on no matter what he's doing on screen, or there is something seriously wrong with me. Or maybe it's because I won't see Anthony again until next weekend; with our vacation schedules overlapping he will be returning from his 10-day trip to Kansas City the same day I leave for a week in Cape Cod with my family. I hope to be out at Rapture next Saturday, or seeing Dharmata 101 at Midnight.

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