Disappearing Act

by jexmas on July 24, 2012

I have been thinking about James Holmes and his unbelievably murderous outburst in a movie theater, of all places. Our lives are broken by violence and his actions, in particular, should give us pause.We all have the capacity to use our minds to make people disappear and I witnessed a version of it earlier today.

Sitting on the train during the morning rush, I watch a woman put on her makeup in the crowded carriage. She has a bottle of foundation and a mirror and is dabbing and spreading the skin-colored fluid on her face as if no-one is watching. She is careful, patting it carefully into the creases under her eyes and around her nose, making sure the skin on her entire face is covered.

She registers that I am watching her and stares back at me for a few seconds before continuing on. I imagine I am her next boss, only she does not know it yet. Since she is clearly trying to make an impression, will she be embarrassed when she walks into the interview and recognizes me as her prospective employer because now I am a person? It is certainly her temporal illusion that, as she puts on her makeup, I do not exist. No-one in the train carriage exists for her as a real person. We are like pictures of people she does not know on her bathroom wall. My life does not change because she has not let me exist in her mind. I will go on, although if she does walk into my office for a job interview, she will be so fired before she even sits down. It will not be because she put her makeup on in public. It will be because she made us all non-people while she was doing it.

She is disturbing but not nearly as disturbing as James Holmes and yet the psychic mechanism is so similar. The difference is he is really angry, murderously angry, and he can make people disappear because he hates them for whatever reason. He can dream up a plan to make a whole crowd of people he does not even know, but hates nonetheless, disappear. The really unfortunate reality in this country is he can make his dream come true by easily obtaining a variety of weapons including an assault rifle, a handgun and 6000 rounds of ammunition. His gun jammed, so presumably he was intending to kill every single person in the theater. His insanity makes real people disappear in real, not illusory, time but his idea of disappearance is to make a statement that is so entirely about him and his outrageous fantasy of destruction in the context of a Batman movie. As he shoots his vicious, overpowered gun designed for war into a crowd of unarmed and innocent men, women and children, he has no remorse and no humanity or compassion for the idea he is irreparably breaking the lives of dozens of people.

His actions makes me believe the United States is at war with itself.  Otherwise, why would it be so easy for him to make so many ordinary people going about their lives disappear on some psychotic whim that has nothing to do with who the victims are or how their lives might be affected going forward? The event was all over the news yesterday and, today, there has been nothing. The other highly-developed capacity we have is to make unpleasant events disappear, just like that.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Barbara Darvall July 24, 2012 at 3:06 pm

What’s wrong with the ‘success’ of a student, so bright in the way we measure exams, when he can be so unstable, so unconnected with the community? He could have ended up in charge of patients’ brains, with his own so wild but until now, hidden. He could have lived out his hatreds with fist fighting, but he used our oh-so-modern weapons. You’re right Jane, the easy access to long-range non-personal weapons is a real problem in our ‘evolved’ societies. We’re losing connection, your lady in the train is such a good example.


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