Monday, December 03, 2007

Towards a Metalanguage of E V I L, Part II

In real heroics, a personal glamour death is one which highlights risk-taking or maniacal energy and fearlessness on the part of the hero. The suicide deaths of Mark Rothko and Diane Arbus were both action deaths. The death of James Dean was an action death—being an iconographic example, in Thorstein Veblen's terms, of honorific expenditure—in this case, in terms of James Dean-the hunk, and the Porshe itself.

Death by starvation, withdrawl, mass murder, appropriation, colonization, pornographic death, death by illness, death by natural disaster, any anonymous death in which one did not have, or almost have control, is the opposite, on a polar scale, of the personal or designer death. Death by choice, whether by bonafide suicide or by accident-on-purpose, is the death of choice, being the honorific death.

Being in a plane accident is not a glamour action death, although it is an action death. An action death requires that some acute movement totally skews the physical properties of the world for the person in question. The tabloids regularly feature "near-miss" or "brushes" with action death at the rate of one story per issue. The shuttle disaster was a designer action death. A designer death highlights the trashing of appealing supplies.

The psychopath is rarely suicidal. Although he would pretend to play the game to the last, and he would viciously press a peer to take on genuinely life-threatening risks, the psychopath always saves his own skin. The psychopath may court death, but it is someone else’s. The psychopath leaves a trail littered with the broken, discarded bodies and lives of others, he trashes them, leaving them as rotten matter as he proceeds to his next site. Where he gave the impression of being deeply involved in the life and death struggles he creates around the last victim, he was always vacuous and remote.

The psychopath is often mistakenly called asocial. As Dr. Hervey Cleckley describes him, he is over-socialized, and what is actually witnessed is the unwinding of the works of a bored and petulant machine with a taste for mischief.

Where the psychopath interacts with his target, a strange situation ensues where the interaction on the psychopath’s side exists on a shallow and taut level, and contrary to appearances, is rigid and scripted. On the mark’s side, the interaction exists in a deeper social space which admits some spontaneous response and flexibility. The behavior on the mark’s side is unguarded, and the boundaries which are adhered to have more to do with those which were socially influenced during the conditioning process than the careful, manageable limits required of X’s game.

In her essay, “The Pornographic Imagination”, Susan Sontag contrasts the endlessly reproductive and selfregenerating material of the pornographic novel to the deeply and lushly described social space of the Nineteenth Century novel. If these two structures were knit together, this hybrid would resemble the interaction of X and Y.

The model for the psychopath is a rotten egg or a wormy apple whose skin appears intact. Cleckley made an analogy between psychopathology and a medical disorder called semantic aphasia in which a trauma to or lesion on the brain affects an area which produces meaning, but where the outer apparatus of the tongue and mouth retain their apparent integrity. The patient speaks perfectly formed words and sentences, yet is unable to grasp the meaning of those words. So hidden is the psychopath’s disorder that examination in a clinical setting or courtroom may reveal nothing and function merely as a showcase for a sane, charming, and hearty human being. It is though the ACTIONS of the psychopath in contrast to their hollow and well-chosen words, the yawning canyon between what they do and what they say, that the depth of disturbance and deception must be measured.

In Robert Kegan’s model, the psychopath is arrested in an epistemological era associated with the childhood ages of 6 to 14. This era predates one in which the needs of others become integrated positively in one’s inner world. The battle which would later become a wrestling or struggling with one’s conscience is neither internalized nor abstracted for the 10-year-old or the psychopath. The world is polarized into tow camps: those who would satisfy his needs and those who would thwart them. If one’s needs, like the 10-year-olds, are experienced as all-encompassing and global, then the constant campaigning on one’s own behalf has a type of logic. Seen in this light, the formation of a Nazi Youth Party was an efficacious way of exploiting the ruthlessness of this epistemological era and colonizing the formation of the next, more advanced era, pruning and shaping it to their own ends.

No comments: