Nature is not natural and can never be naturalized — Graham Harman

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Why Can't I Be You? Borderline Assassins

Of course “lone wolves” are nutters. You'd have to be crazy to act violently on your own. Everyone knows that the only acceptable forms of murder in this culture are sanctioned by the state (I mean this without any irony or cynicism—well maybe just a little bit...). This doesn't excuse us from putting messages out there about doing violence to public figures. In fact it makes our responsibility FAR MORE ACUTE. PRECISELY because a nutter could hear your words and act them out, you are directly responsible for his actions. Sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings. But I've been wholly persuaded by Alphonso Lingis's The Imperative that we sway and are swayed by others (objects of all kinds) all the time. So we are directly responsible for that girl who runs in front of a truck or for that guy who opens fire in a Safeway. You don't stand there weighing the pros and cons and different forms of self-interest theory. You just jump, like that guy did this weekend.

Lennon's assassin spent weeks listening to Lennon records, weeping and tearing his hair at the fakeness of his idol. Loughner had a thank you letter in his safe (in which he had documents that spoke of “assassination”). The note was from Giffords concerning an event he'd attended.

What sticks in my mind (thanks to Graham Harman for drawing my attention to this) is that at the event, Loughner had asked Giffords some kind of question like “How do you know words mean anything?” Giffords had kind of brushed him off (I believe she spoke to him in Spanish and moved on).

Remember that scene in Twelve Monkeys where the guy with the virus in the test tubes asks a provocative question slightly out of left field to the lecturer—he needs to have his fantasy confirmed.

I'm still betting my bottom dollar that rather than thinking Giffords was possessed by demons (a schizophrenic paranoia), Loughner thought that Giffords was a fake (a classic borderline delusion). Like Lennon's shooter. He read way way too much into a tiny piece of speech. He may have been stalking her for some time. Lennon's assassin met him earlier that day and tried to communicate too.

Hey listen to this, “Why Can't I Be You?” by The Cure. It's the classic borderline anthem.



4 comments:

John Muse said...

You wrote "I'm still betting my bottom dollar that rather than thinking Loughner was possessed by demons (a schizophrenic paranoia), he thought that Loughner was a fake..." But I'm sure you meant, "I'm still betting my bottom dollar that rather than thinking Loughner was possessed by demons (a schizophrenic paranoia), he thought that Giffords was a fake..." No need to post this.

John Muse said...

Or maybe "I'm still betting my bottom dollar that rather than thinking Giffords was possessed by demons (a schizophrenic paranoia), he thought that Giffords was a fake..." Is that it?

Timothy Morton said...

Hey thanks for the correction.

John Muse said...

I'm haunted by the cordial and yet calculating exchange Loughner was said to have had with the taxi driver. "Jared Loughner wanted change back from a $20 bill that he used to pay for a taxi ride to the Safeway store here, according to the manager of the taxi company." How to imagine this? Something about that bill in his hand and the performance of foresight and nonchalance. He could have said, "keep it." Or maybe that would have been impossible for him? Opening fire? Easy by comparison. Or this: did he not plan for a one-way trip? Or not say to himself, "I had better have smaller bills for the cab ride." Was everything else planned but not this one thing? For me such questions are an odd effect of this obdurate $20.