The Art Metaphor of School Shootings
I spend my days evaluating and treating people with mental health problems. As disturbing as the horrible slaughter of innocents is I like the metaphor of (murder) art because it takes the issue to a whole new level of accuracy without the simplification.
Just as one somehow finds himself in the role of an artist, often by exclusion of many other roles that don’t fit, it is completely fruitless to seek the common denominator of artists. It is the differences that give them notoriety, fame or popularity. Then there are the issues of execution, elegance and the power of expression. This follows the earlier stages of development and formation of the artist, his media and style.
Of course there is a risk of sounding callous or unsympathetic to the victims when the brutality is compared to something as sublime as art . In reality art can seem so but actually has great power to influence and form values. This is another aspect, the influence on the “state of the art,” our appreciation of their craft and the horizons it may open for us (in this case the opening of evil).
Contrary to the struggling artists trying to make their mark, our murder artists get instant recognition, and “fame.” This is the “western jihadist.” Fame. Yet our sensitivity to evil and its reality makes it nearly impossible to speak of these things on their own terms. We do hear in passing the evil Austrian flunked out of art school leaving him to seek recognition in other ways.
There are many other models of violent crime being tossed around, like viral loads, and the epidemiology seems to show some promise in deepening our understanding but loathe as I am to say it, the gun is more powerful and immediate than the brush. There is also much less certainty of success and more competition in the creative arts.
Murder is, thanks to the widening influence of the media, such a big seller even if the final act rapidly dwarfs once the smoke clears leaving the survivors to grapple with their misery. Yet the secret society of alienated and impressionable souls are waiting for the inspiration, and preparation to make their way to upstage the ones who thought they finally got it right.