Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Between Silence and Scream

So, he was an English major, the mass murderer and suicide, and words were not enough to exorcise his demons. Words failed him. He failed in finding power enough in his violent and obscene words. To paraphrase T.S. Eliot, he found the "time to murder and uncreate."

Last week, the topic in the U.S. was words and race and pain (or so I hear). I was in Berlin and saw in the courtyard at Humboldt University a plaque in the ground, amidst the cobbles, commemorating sadly the burning of books. Again, are words talismanic and dangerous? Or utterly futile? (Incidentally, do you recall what the tabloid topic was just before 9/11? Shark attacks. You can look it up.)

"Then how should I begin /To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?" (again Eliot).

This guy did so with bullets, finding words impotent to shape or hold or issue his rage.

"Unkennelled" shows up in Shakespeare's "Hamlet." What tragic dogs were unkennelled, unloosed, from this guy's tormented lair?

To my tiny mind, I see comparisons and similarities linking the Unabomber, Henry David Thoreau, and this guy. The rants against society, the unsparing "morality," the utter disappointment in human imperfection and injustice and moral decay. Of course, such a link is a stretch, a leap. The Unabomber was an anarchic, shadowy killer; this guy a long-simmering cauldron. And Thoreau had no bombs or guns.

I was struck by a passage in today's NY Times, quoting Lucinda Roy, a professor who taught Mr. Cho. She said he'd show up with a baseball cap pulled low, wearing sunglasses.

"He seemed to be crying behind his sunglasses,"

she said.

Now many more people are crying behind sunglasses, or in the open air. Alone and always and forever.

Miserere Nobis

Yesterday evening, I walked in Burnet Park, the dog and I.

The day after the last day.

The first day after the last.

The robin's insistent trill, a solitary vespers.

The jet engine's ascending roar in the distance, like that cobalt-blue Tuesday morning.

The light settling like a warm blanket.

The robin's chant.

The dog's piss stain on a patch of snow.

My human odor.

A ghost of a freight train rumbling.

The presence of absence.

The forsythia's whisper of yellow.

The stubborn verdancy of grass.

A broken branch under foot.

A lone robin, a sentinel and mourner,

Near the top bony branch,

Singing arias for the misbegotten

And lost.


Glamourpuss said...

Good to have you back.


Sheila said...

english major? ugh! I shudder. Words.... words... always words and not actions.... the pen is mightyer than the guns. My deepest sympathies to the victims and their families.

jbwritergirl said...

Hey Pawlie,

Words cannot be used in this situation. There is no rhyme or reason, just another asshole gone wild.