I don’t want to know anything more about the VT monster. (I won’t write his name. He’s not worth the effort to learn how to spell it. I will repeat the name of Prof. Liviu Livrescu, again and again. May he live forever in honored memory. Yad vashem.)
As a writer, I suppose I should be fascinated by the dynamics that led the VTm to write a B-movie ending to his life’s story. I was bullied plenty as a child. I can sympathize with moody loners better than most.
But he lost me when he did what he did. He ceased to be interesting at that point.
I’ve blogged before about the banality of evil. In fiction we like to think up fascinating, multilayered antagonists, urbane Bond villains and Hannibal Lectors, accomplished and witty and charming, who are the kinds of people you suspect you’d like if you knew them. What we think we’d be like if we took up the practice of evil.
Yet so often, in real life, the bad guys turn out to be walking stereotypes. Abused or neglected as children. Poor social adjustment. Shy. Alienated from the peer group. Fascinated with violent games and movies.
Until the moment they set out to orchestrate their Big Moments, they have my sympathy. I think I could have been like that. I had a fair number of the same issues in my own life. Still do. I hope they get help. I hope they find somebody to love them. I hope they confess their self-centered, obsessive sin and find grace at the foot of the Cross.
But that ends when they strap on the guns (or bombs) and go out to hurt innocent people. When they do that, they are not only committing evil. They are becoming clichés. A smaller matter, it goes without saying, but if you want my attention, don’t do a Cagney imitation.
There was a time when the Charles Manson story fascinated me. Right up until I saw David Frost interview him, years back. Watching and listening to him, I realized there was nothing special about him. He was just like any number of stoners I met back in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Manson wasn’t some Satanic mastermind. He was a narcissist with a messiah complex who eroded his inhibitions with drugs.
There was a time when I was fascinated by the Jack the Ripper mystery. I’m still sort of interested in it, not so much in the criminal himself as in the story and the setting. And the enduring mystery. The fact that the crimes are unsolved prevents us from learning how banal the killer probably actually was. If (as I suspect is true) Sir Robert Anderson’s contention is correct, that the killer was a man later committed to an insane asylum, well, QED.
I suppose there are exceptions. Ted Bundy, they say, was charming and “played well with others.” But I haven’t studied his story closely, and it appears to me to be a rare exception.
The VTm thought he was a creative writer. He wasn’t.
Creative writers have to be able to come up with original endings.