Thursday, April 19, 2007

Wolves, Sheep and Boars

Few hours have passed where the incident at Virginia Tech hasn't entered my thoughts though. Miles away at PVCC, far from danger, the day carried on with only a surreal gait to its rhythm: lectures followed by friend in the halls, one arrived crying near the end of the day, and all the while the hard wind blowing outside. The weather, almost cinematic in its own emotional fury. Around 10:30am I saw it knock over a heavy NO SMOKING sign and begin to carry it down the sidewalk before I grabbed it.

My mind grew haunted by the scare that PVCC had near the beginning of the semester. How lucky we were. How lucky we are. Lingering peripheral anxiety as to the cultural and institutional overreactions that might follow this new shooting. Recalling the heated argument with my mother about going to school following the Columbine shooting in my black trench coat, when it was pouring down outside, for fear that someone might attack me in the street.

I wish I could go into everything with more detail, but for now it must be fragments of thoughts and images.

I share a lot of the frustrations with the media that other blogger's have expressed. Though I don't have the time to comment, as a film geek who has been saying since the moment it was revealed that the shooter was South Korean that films from that region like Old Boy would end up catching blame by the media, I'd like to think that if I did have the time to comment, I would follow bloggers like Jackson's lead and refrain at least until the victims are put to rest.

Tragedy has a way of bringing out the best and worst in people. The best usually comes from the call for good inherent to such times. The worst too often is manifests through our inability to accept the unspeakable when apparently arbitrary. Our inability to accept it is largely because there is in truth almost certainly a cause, even if a vastly elaborate culmination of elements. Still such a cause is usually all but impossible to unravel and leaves little satisfaction with both the tediousness of its process and formlessness of its result. Like a child at war with the ocean, punching and kicking the waves of the shallow surf to no avail, people grow frustrated at the absence of a clear immediate answer to the overwhelming question of why someone would do something so horrible. At the peak of that frustration, we seek answers in excuses. We cast blame prior to adequate evidence; when faced with the wolves of oblivion, of cold arbitrary horror, it seems better to be mad boars charging at anything than gentle sheep in the icy dusk. It has gladdened me that for most part politicians like our governor have refrained from such behavior thus far with this incident. The families, friends and loved ones don't need our political bickering now. They need the best in us.


Blogger Mad Hatter said...

Incidents such as this just serve as a reminder that as soon as we begin to feel comfortable with humanity... we shouldn't.

5:40 PM  
Blogger Cory Capron said...

The way I look at it is that we create a sub-reality for ourselves in which things happen to other people. I don’t think it’s very conscious, but what big tragedies seem to have a pattern of doing to me is leaving me for a least the first 24 hours in a off center state. September 11 was like someone taking a hammer to a snow globe. For the first 6 hours I felt like gravity might suddenly cease and we’d all be flung off the earth. There is a reason that churches and temples suddenly saw a huge spike in attendance. People get this sense of security then something comes along and shows them that life is not necessarily set. If it is all one big movie, they might not be the lead they privately thought they were while brushing their teeth in the morning.

Feeling “comfortable with humanity” is an interesting choice of words. True, humanity can be describe as are arbitrary or irrational nature to do things ranging from the selflessly compassionate to the most objectifying and sadistic, yet sadism is defined as taking pleasure in the suffering of another. The reason someone hurts someone sadistically is to gain pleasure. That’s a reason. We will probably never know truly why the shooter at VT did what he did, but the suggestion of the arbitrary lies only in those reasons existing outside our scope. We can only account for what is within our range, through senses and technology, of perceiving. Everything else becomes painted over as mystical. If we define humanity as something profoundly human, as behavior that is not traditionally or easily explained as animal, I feel that our more violent nature is easier to explain than our compassionate. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I see it as our emotionally weighted ethical intuition where logic seems to stumble. Perhaps if my ethics were more skewed, my intuition would guide me to curler less rational behavior.

Comfort is also an interesting choice. It feels more like arrogance or naiveté than comfort, going back to the sub-reality security blanket idea.

1:01 PM  

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