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 yet...to 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 state...it 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.