Friday, July 20, 2012

The real casualty in Colorado

All day long I've been resisting the inclination to be more horrified than usual by the slaughter last night at the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. After all, mass murder is mass murder; there should be no degrees of heinousness allowed for. 

And attack people when they're in thrall to a story—when they are, in a very real sense, out of body, in a kind of exalted seems to me like an attempt to assassinate imagination itself.

Stories are our refuge; stories are what we use to make sense of the often cruel randomness of the physical world. Stories are, in fact, sacred. To kill people at the very moment they've given themselves over to this ancient, essential ritual...I can't help it, to me, it's worse than a shopping-mall or streetside massacre. Vastly, immeasurably worse.

Because it's opened a Pandora's box. From now on, whenever we find ourselves in a theater, part of us that will remain invincibly aware of our vulnerability. Which will prevent us from investing ourselves entirely in the story we've come to see. We'll always have that small knot of awareness of ourselves, in our seats, in the open. 

Which weakens and reduces the power of story. Which weakens and reduces civilization. Which weakens and reduces us all.


  1. I've been thinking this as well. You were long out of INTERLAC when I wrote a story about two Legionnaires getting to go to a World Series game -- in a tv studio, because it had been deemed safer centuries earlier than having an actual crowd. It wasn't believed by a lot of the audience, but it's going to happen one way or the other. Fewer people go to see a movie these days because home is safer, more comfortable, and absent of scary people -- even if what frightens is skin color or political belief and not arms. I'm less likely to catch a movie now. It's not as bad as flying, but it's getting that way.

  2. Whoops -- sorry Mike, apparently when I set up this blog I opted for "moderate comments" and then forgot about it, so your very astute comment above languished in the queue for all these months. And now it's finally showing up when it's no longer timely. But...on the up side, kind of good thing it isn't timely, right?...Anyway, thanks for reading, and replying.