A Second Thought

I had just finished my post on Bond, when I read Une Femme´s post on Newtown, and left a comment there (about how we must stop iconizing the archetyp The Lone Gunman). I had barely closed my computer when it occured to me, that perhaps I was being a bit ambiguous about the glorification of violence. I had to think about that.

I think most scientists agree that the capacity for violent behaviour towards other humans is a characteristic that has been evolutionary advantageous. Increasing populations and competition for resources have made those prepared to steal and kill, even wipe other tribes out, survive and pass on their genetic makeup. Perhaps the Neanderthals died out because they were more peaceful than we are. However, this capacity for violence must be controlled, so that it does not become self-destructive.  Going berserk/into a Martian rage has been considered a good thing, but not anywhere, anytime. So, every society must have systems to guarantee inner safety, like tools for socialization (family, school, religion) and control (police, military, hospitals, prisons). Who said that if you want to learn about a society, study it´s prisons and mental asylums? Foucault was one who did.

How do we protect ourselves now? And from what? *
One of the objects of art and science is to expand our consciousness about our nature, and encourage us to ask questions, to ourselves and each other. They can also offer solutions, ways out of ethical and emotional dilemmas. That´s why Bond is so satisfying. Both "Golden Eye" and "Skyfall" is evidently about the enemy being the Warrior/Champion gone awry, becoming a danger to what he has once pledged to protect. He is someone who has turned from the greater good and service of society to a perverted individualism. Actually, the traditional, megalomaniac Bond-villains may be even better examples of that. Like Eliot Carver in "Tomorrow never dies", who I believe was modelled on Rupert Murdoch. He has lately become a posterboy for capitalist mechanisms going ape.

I read somewhere that in the 70´s, child psychologists wanted to remove all the deadly violence from the fairy tales, such as Hans and Greta pushing the wicked witch into the oven. What they found was that this made children feel unsafe. Their reasoning required that the evil one died, they couldn´t grasp the more complex and mature concept of reform and change in an individual that had proved itself evil. And even though we, as adults, can understand that, entertainment violence (Bond kicking ass) wouldn´t be as emotionally satisfying to us if we had really integrated this insight fully. We cheer when the Bond-villain is blown up by the very bomb he intended for us. How many of us can say that we really have empathy with the Evil one? There are signs that some have come that far.

So, can we change our image of the Lone Gunman as a cultural hero? I have no good answer to that. The archetype is like the weapon itself. It depends who is wielding it. (We certainly don´t want to send Bond out there unarmed, even though he assures us, again and again, that weapons of mass destruction is no match for his cleverness. He pushes the wicked witch into her own oven every time.) Also, archetypes work together, in complex patterns, within individuals and societies. The larger, more global and inclusive society becomes, the more difficult it will be to control this part of our psyche and give it an outlet. We are simply running out of enemies. Where do the superfluous warrior go? I understand that if a single cell is removed from the body, and no longer gets signals from other cells that it is needed, it dies. The same goes for humans. Without confirmation from society they will wither away or explode, depending on what their dominant archetype is.

I believe that the next big challenge for human kind is to integrate the separate cultures. You may have heard social analysts and commenters say that the wars of our era are not fought between nations, but between cultures. Perhaps Newtown is another alarmbell going off, that this is not a war that we can win. What if we must channel our energy into changing the way we function, fundamentally, as a species, if we are going to survive? Perhaps we can delete the Lone Gunman from our psyche. Perhaps this will require nothing short of an evolutionary leap. Can we do it?

What´s the alternative? I would hope that future history books mentions Newtown as a turning point, when a new awareness was born, and the seed of a new collective psyche was sown. The dawn of a New world, instead of an apocalypse (another archetype that we are much too fond of). I can at least say that I have become a bit more aware of my own thinking, or lack of it. And as always, change begins with ourselves.

And I also want to say, that I see no reason whatsoever why anyone who is not a soldier, a policeperson, or a licenced and trained hunter, should ever see so much as an inch of a firearm. Ever.

* Södra Åbergsfortet, Boden, 2012.


  1. "I would hope that future history books mentions Newtown as a turning point..."

    me, too, but i just don't believe it. we've had too many killings and no change.

    "I see no reason whatsoever why anyone who is not a soldier, a policeperson, or a licenced and trained hunter, should ever see so much as an inch of a firearm. Ever."

    i wholeheartedly agree with you!

  2. Ah, to live in America. Ahhh..
    I think the major difference between the Lone Gunman hero and the mass-murders we have is, the hero never goes into a school or market shooting innocent people. And here, it always ends with the shooter shooting themselves. What's the point? There's never any justice, just a lot of anguish and sorrow. But of course, that's the point.. I don't really get political about the idea of gun control, but I keep feeling that the issue has less to do with gun control and more to do with the empowerment of crazy people. Take away guns, someone's going to build bombs. Take away bombs, someone's going to grab a knife. The people who want to do things like this will always find away. It's a completely different discussion from whether or not a person should be able to own a gun (I leave that debate to people who love guns and the people who hate them; I am, admittedly, indifferent). But I think the term "crazy-control" brings the sort of connotations that we don't need in society, the ones where governments feel the need to do ethnic cleanses and segregation and discrimination and forces institutionalised disciplines... it's a slippery slope. I stop, and can only surmise that it all points back to bad parenting and missed medical diagnoses.

    1. It´s not a completely different discussion, I think, unless you like your discussions real simple. Gun control will certainly not stop crazy people doing crazy violent things, but it will limit their ability to do major harm in a very short time. Australia has been very successful in this. But certainly, it´s such a complex discussion, that it´s hard even knowing where to start. Which is why so few level people seem to want to talk about it and what we are left with are emotionally derived, simplistic opinions thrown in either direction. Whatever you say, you risk being bombarded with hate (not on this tiny blog, though, where only nice people come!:-D).

      Perhaps the point with shooters shooting themselves is that they are victims, too. In Norway we have an example of a shooter who saw himself as a hero and stood trial. The difference it made was probably not any greater sense of justice to the victims, but that people actually had to deal with the process of the trial, and talk about it. And talking about it probably always increase the chance of better decision being made, on every level.

    2. "what we are left with are emotionally derived, simplistic opinions"

      i admit that when the right keeps saying they're scared we're going to take away their guns and that they have a constitutional right to their guns, and when the left keeps saying, "there, there, fear not. we don't want to take away your guns. we just want to add a bit more regulation" what i want to say is this:

      i want to take away your guns!

  3. at least with the shooter dead, the victims' families can leave the publicity behind more quickly. the media here is relentless. :(

    1. Yes, I saw an interview with an apparently shocked child of what? eight? outside the school on the day it happened. It´s parent was there, equally shocked and that´s probably why she allowed it. I felt it was beyond the bounds of decorum, and should never have been done, never have been aired. Horrid.