At Jewcy’s diverting blog, divertingly called The Cabal, Abe Greenwald discusses that little Finnish bastard who shot up his school (and self, natch) in the context of Bowling for Columbine and, specifically, Marilyn Manson.
Now I have a soft spot in my pomo heart for Marilyn Manson, and when B for C came out it merely confirmed what I had been trying to tell people since September 1998: he’s the thinking man’s conqueror worm. Well, anyway, the point here is that Greenwald assails Manson’s then theory that America is (a) somehow more prone to violence than Europe and (b) the American character of that violence is such that it alienates and presses to the margins ‘losers’ who either won’t or can’t participate in the mainstream sexiness market.
It’s true that this sounds compelling enough until you really get thinking. One possibility is that Europe has simply caught up with where we were in 1998, and certainly the viral aspect of YouTubery counts as an evidentiary exhibit there. But I agree this is too glib.
More interesting, though this isn’t Greenwald’s, is the claim that there’s something about European society that makes it more fragile with regard to the sort of nihilistic violence that afflicts certain American kids with what still seems to be much more regularity. I’m still trying to figure out how to put this without seeming eccentric, but it does seem to me that American society has a great resilience to random acts of violence whereas in Europe they threaten to open up some kind of intensely debilitating abyss. Tocqueville said Americans went crazy while Europeans just killed themselves. Part of globalization seems to include a convergence of crazy and suicide in America and Europe. But can Europe psychologically or culturally handle homegrown but Americanesque bursts of murderous insanity? Including terror? Does doing so require a reckoning with how and why such things could even be homegrown in Europe?