(Hitler looking at a bust of Nietzsche)
- Having fun?
- What's happening with the crazies you hang out with?
- Remember the Tunisian who declared that having a home was, in his opinion, overestimated?
- Not really.
- Anyway another North African who he'd talked with sometime or another, a student at UCLA, came looking for me late last night at Ralphs, said he'd heard about me. He had a school essay due in seven hours and he had only an outline. Could I help him write it?
- So you finally had some human interaction with someone who isn't dying on the street.
- The subject of the essay was Highsmith's novel about a serial killer and impersonator, and whether or not the killer impersonator was the new type American Hero.
- Did the professor mean killer individuals undermining society, or mean that society made a habit of rewarding murderous heroism?
- I asked that question.
- The student said he didn't care as long as we wrote five pages. I was interested. All week I'd been watching serials on Netflix, those new TV shows we hear everywhere are better than movies, and was struck by the way many of them had killer heroes.
- So what do you think? Are we a society of killers or are we killers of society?
- A hero is a character in a myth. And a myth relates the invisible to the visible, our thoughts and feelings to things in the world. Can we draw into visibility some hidden aspect of society that instructs we good Americans to kill and impersonate? The psychological view would be that we as audience are fascinated by killers and impersonators because we repress our own personal wish to do the same. But maybe we are fascinated for exactly the opposite reason: in our own persons we revolt against lowering ourselves to killing, but society secretly is pushing us in that direction. Last time we met* we talked about being taught not to feel responsible for the enmity between buyer and seller in free market economics, for the vicious competition of survival of the fittest in social evolution, and even how in our separate roles we are not required to be conscious, as in the near future we all we all will be connected through technology in one global consciousness.
- The heroic American impersonator killer is expressing this covered up social, economic, intellectual violence? And that is why we see every month now a new incident of mass shootings in schools or theaters, ending in suicide of the killer, where there is no personal advantage to be had, the killer making a sort of demand for admiration for his fulfilling the true wishes of society? Then tell me why psychopaths care for the wishes of society enough to massacre children but don't care to extend the socially authorized transgression to personal benefit and fight to stay alive. I wonder you tried to build an argument on such improbable behavior.
- Is it improbable? The Nazi party program was an anti-individual, collectivist, anti-reason worship of violence. The individual had to sacrifice himself to society when required, but when not could indulge in the wild irrational joys of violence and cruelty. Millions of Germans of all kinds approved of these ideas and put them into practice. It's hard for us to understand how this could happen. Or to go back where we started, hard to see why the psychopath is willing to sacrifice himself, give up his own lifetime of joy of killing for the sake of making a symbolic expression of the group's violence.
- The psychopath is willing to kill for society because he was an artist who respected and needed an audience. He killed out of love for society's opinion more than hatred of society's indifference.
- Yes. Nietzsche is the perfect example of someone who glorified individual violence out of love for society. The Nazi program closely followed his ideas: anti-individual, anti-capitalist, anti-reason, pro-violence. But where Nietzsche saw the Germans as an inferior race and the Jews as at least in some respects a superior race, the Nazis in their relative artistic incompetence saw the reverse. Neitzsche respected and needed an audience that didn't yet exist capable of understanding his high art. He was the prophet of the coming of that audience. To be an artist of speech required an audience capable of understanding. If the audience didn't yet exist the precursor could with his speech set to work and bring it into being, ready to sacrifice himself to the work if required of him - the creation of the audience to his art of was of that overwhelming importance.
- And the killers of children are doing what Nietzsche saw himself doing? Listening to the applause of the audience in the future, that pure audience of the master race he with his killing is bringing into being?
- So wrote the student from North Africa, with a little help.
- I don't know if his professor will like it.
- What's he going to do? Kill us?
* The Force Of Consciousness