For those who have not been following the fallout of the Virgina Tech shooting, it has come to light that the 23-year-old South Korean gunman was an English Major. More amazingly, his class writings were so disturbing that one of his professors, Lucinda Roy, had contacted the police & sent him to counseling. His poetry professor, Nikki Giovanni (whom Oprah is a fan of), said that his poems scared away his fellow students from attending class! From the Times Lede blog:
In interview after interview in newspapers and on TV, Ms. Giovanni has described a student whose behavior caused her creative writing class to drop from about 70 to 7 students in the fall of 2005.
“Once I realized my class was scared, I knew I had to do something,” she told The Washington Post.
So she confronted him about the dark sunglasses and maroon cap he would wear in class and the darker poetry that he would write.
“You can’t do that,” she told him, referring to the “intimidating” poems.
“You can’t make me,” he replied.
“Yeah, I can.”
Her next step was to lobby the department head, Lucinda Roy, writing a letter requesting he leave the class, she told CNN. And she was ready to go all the way.
“I was willing to resign before I would continue with him,” she told CNN. “It was the meanness.”
Well, two of his short plays have been leaked to the internet. Of course, they are as sick & angry as everyone has been saying they were. But I'm happy to report that they are also really dumb & poorly written. I must admit to having a brief glimmer of wonder if this was some misunderstood writer, & if his writings may have been "disturbing" like Nabokov is disturbing or Andres Serrano is disturbing. There is no depth tho, here's a passage from "Richard McBeef":
Must kill Dick. Must kill Dick. Dick must die. Kill Dick ... Richard McBeef. What kind of name is that? What an asshole name. I don't like it. And look at his face. What an asshole face. I don't like his face at all. You don't think I can kill you, Dick? You don't think I can kill you? Gotcha. Got one eye ... Got the other eye.
The play is entirely a son & mother hurling dumb insults at their loser step-father, who has no redeeming qualities. With Ahab, the boy character shares a revenging obsession to kill a large Dick, but the sexual undertones in Melville are much more interesting. Are any of the insults at least a little Shakespearean in their variety? I admit to liking "Eat this, you giant tree trunk piece of ass." But, no, they're mostly pretty boring, like this rant:
What are you, a Catholic priest! I will not be molested by an aging balding overweight pedophilc stepdad named Dick! Get your hands off me you sicko! Damn you, you Catholic priest. Just stop it, Michael Jackson. Let me guess, you have a pet named Dick in Neverland ranch and you want me to go with you to pet him, right?
The second play is "Mr Brownstone", in which three 17-year-olds sneak into a casino with apparently no other purpose than verbally abusing their "ass-raping" math teacher Mr Brownstone, whose name is cleverly compared to a kidney stone. This play turns into a musical, with two of the eleven pages devoted to the kids singing a Guns 'n Roses song. Originally, there's a bit of diversity in the teens' obscenities, but by the last two pages, they settle on simply repeating "muthafucker" over & over again.
I assume it will only be a matter of time before someone leaks the poetry which so frightened Ms Giovanni's class. It's amazing to me that both these teachers went to the administration & even the police about this student's writings, almost two years before he was to become the gunman in the most violent non-Indian massacre in American history. Six years ago, performances of the works of composer Karlheinz Stockhausen were canceled after he made a comment comparing the September 11th bombings to a "great work of art". He publicly apologized, explaining that he had simply meant that the time, effort, & finances it takes to create a large work of destruction is comparable to creating something constructive, say, like an opera or a building. Not to mention how much more media attention the ideas & images "destructive art" can receive.
Cho had serious psychotic & angry tendencies & he expressed them first thru some terrible plays & then thru a violent movie-inspired rampage - (a semiautomatic gun in each hand? come on, man, that's as cliche as your pedophilic step-father, an uninspired blend of Claudius & Humbert Humbert). Interestingly, this massacre came right after Quintin Tarantino & Robert Rodriguez's double-feature Grindhouse hit the cinemas - a very gory flick lampooning old slasher B-movies. Compare how Cho & Tarantino differ in their response to their shared muse - the latter with taste & irony, the former with a tragic lack of creativity & loss of human life. And Cho received ten times the media attention; possibly more people are reading his lame plays online today than watching that movie - indeed, I'm sure this real grindhouse will bitter everyone's taste to watch a clever send-up.
T.S. Eliot said "there will be time to murder and create", we all have the potential for either creation or destruction, but most of us won't make the news.