Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Breaking Point

"He just knows its fucking fun to break shit, and that geeks like you will be asking forced rhetorical questions trying to find some existential purpose to the act, when, destruction is its own reward." Sean Orr.

Boy, 14, kills himself after shooting four in school rampage
By Andrew Gumbel
Published: 11 October 2007

A 14-year-old boy wearing a Marilyn Manson concert t-shirt and black fingernail polish walked into his high school in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, yesterday and shot four people before turning one of his .38-calibre revolvers on himself.

The gunman was the only person who died in the incident. Two adults and two teenagers were taken to hospital with gunshot wounds and were expected to survive. A fifth person, a teenage girl, injured her knee in a fall as she raced to get away from the scene of the shooting.

The 14-year-old boy, Asa Coon, was described by classmates and neighbours as frequently volatile and angry. He was suspended for fighting at the beginning of the week and was not supposed to be in school at all.

"He's crazy. He threatened to blow up our school. He threatened to stab everybody," fellow student Doneisha LeVert told the Associated Press.

I'm not smart enough to understand how George Bush, the Israelis and capitalism are responsible for this. I think Sean Is right. It feels good smashing shit. I think Sean is dead-on. I think the Nazi-esque celebration of death and destruction is what turns people on in this case and in that of the other above. I also think it's worth fighting, even if people get hurt in the process. Of course, following the fallacy of the Irrationalist dyeing hand, I'm as bad as those as I would do harm to. If only I were twenty and knew everything again. Too bad, isn't it, that I only know a little bit. I know it's a heart-break to see things broken like this.


Sean Orr said...

Hmmm, punching a hole in a statue is the same as going on a killing spree? Please.

dag said...

"Punching a hole in a statue is the same as going on a killing spree?" No, Sean, no one suggests it is the same. No one but you. Punching a hole in a person with a bullet is not the same as vandalism, but nihilism is nihilism, whether it's against a culture in general or against a culture specifically. When tormented and hate-felled people can't tell the difference between objects of veneration and a soup can, then one can see a clear line toward not knowing the difference between a statue and a living person.

The unbounded nihilist, for whom all things are possible, who is open to everything, who is at one with the universe, is also a tormented and undifferentiated thing without identity, a nasty thing for the soul of Man, for the person in particular. "Who am I?" becomes "I am nothing." Not having a self leads to ones hatreds being unfocused and to ones hatreds being unleashed against old stones and people and whatever, none of it being meaningful, just fun to smash up.

Infants, as I understand it, live an undifferentiated existence, not knowing there is a difference between them and mother. When they realize Mother is a thing not oneself, there comes rage. "Not me, then smash." It's a tantrum. When 14 year olds with guns have tantrums, then we see massacres in public. When young men have tantrums, then we see something nearly as sorry, the end of a life of any meaning and hope. We encounter minds that are incapable of distinguishing between right and wrong because they cannot distinguish between individual and the universe. We see weakling flocking to any large cause, donning any ridiculous costume to blend in to the whole, and we see the fascist mind in a state of terror and hatred consumed and consuming, smashing and wrecking because "it really sucks to be you."

My colleagues here write often of love. I write equally often of hate. There are things to love, but one cannot know those things without knowing too that there are things to hate. It becomes a matter of emphasis. One cannot have a personhood in an undifferentiated life in a porridge universe. To love, one must get ones hate straight. If one is to be an individual, which few people really want for themselves, then one must be bounded by ones accepted limits. One must choose between what is to love and that which harms it. Then one grows rather than dissipates into night and fog. One becomes, rather than one is. With becoming there is purpose and hope and even, like it or not, humility. To violate ones becoming would be to violate the universe. Thus, punching a hole in a statue would be akin to killing people; to piss on oneself would be akin to pissing on everyone in the room. For those who don't get it, that the universe is not only the person, that life is not a solipsism, that the devil did not create the universe only to trick one person, the rest being a figment of ones imagination, for the one who doesn't get the idea that others have lives too, then nothing much matters at all, can't matter, and shouldn't matter because it's fun smashing up shit.

Unfocused hate comes from an unfocused, undifferentiated person, an infant. Smashing a statue of worth to the greater community because one finds it fun is an act of a child, as is shotting at random into a crowd. "Me and not me." The tantrum of loneliness and frustration.

Romantic individuals? Are these people acting out their highest genius? Are they beings who are on a higher plane of awareness, knowing the ultimate futility of existence? raging against the machine? expressing some grand gesture of rebellion against the philistine herd? Not fucking real. In the undifferentiated being we see a longing to return to the mass of comfort and security life doesn't yield except through effort and skill. For the infant who demands the endless clinging and constant comfort of Mother, there is only rage and hatred and a longing for the end, not only of himself but of all and everyone. Smash this, kill that, all the same, and then, in one final Grand Gesture of fascist nihilism, everything dies.

There, mate, one finds dozens of seeds where there are long and involved essays in our blogs that begin to fill out the details, works we've written on for years in many cases, and here what one can only allude to. We meet on Thursday evening to be available to fill in the details to an extent to those who care to come by to talk. Sometimes the level of debate is challenging, and it drives away some people. Those who come to learn often find themselves at some point teaching. Those who come to preach find themselves on the street corner where they belong. Everyone is welcome.

truepeers said...

Infants, as I understand it, live an undifferentiated existence, not knowing there is a difference between them and mother. When they realize Mother is a thing not oneself, there comes rage.

Thanks to recent work we can be a little more precise about this transition. What is involved is a change from a dyadic relationship where mother is simply the source of one's life or social existence, to a triadic relationship where the infant begins to recognize mother's (and others') desires and intentions to external objects. The infant then develops his own desires and intentions in competition with others'. The tantrum is perhaps a result of realizing that mother and/or I alone are not self-sufficient, but rather that our very existence is predicated on belonging to a larger shared scene of desire and attention that is inherently communal and beyond anyone's control. The vandal is the one who acts out violently against this shared human reality instead of deferring to the God or (human, though transcendent) Being of the scene as a whole.

dag said...

That works for me, even if it's only one post on the road to yet greater understanding, far better than smashing shit cause it's fun.

Who knows what will supplant the thesis above? It's not important. What matters is the constructive approach to trying to better inform ourselves of the meaning of a good life rather than a good time.