Tuesday, April 9, 2013

After many a millenium of slaughter. . .

Sanguinarios del M1 (My Bloodthirsty M1 [2011]), directed by Óscar González, is set in Mexico, depicts gun violence in present-day Mexico, and mirrors a violence without legal consequence.

Sanguinarios del M1 is similar to the much better La virgen de los sicarios (Our Lady of the Assassins [2000]),a film by Barbet Schroeder.  The movie is set in Medellín, Columbia, and does mirror reality.

 [The title of the movie mirrors the great novel ny Jean Genet, Notre Dame des Fleurs (Our Lady of the Flowers), . . .

and the movie is true to the nihilism of that novel.  Both the movie and the novel are highly recommended.]

I wonder if the movies show the society we in North America are, slow or fast, becoming.

I wonder if a nihilist trait is growing in our Union, as meaning drips ut of our institutions religious and political, and gun violence increases unchecked by the day.

The number of gun deaths in the Union just since the Sandy Hook massacre (December 14, 2012), which talking heads assured us was enough to shock us into action, tops 1,280. From Slate.  A graphic from the same source:

No national action is likely.

It is easy to imagine a future such as Columbia's recent past and Mexico's present for our Union, as powerful guns remain available to the criminal or highly-stressed.

I don't worry about the dead.  Death leaves behind nothing at all. Death is a leaf detached from my mango tree, floating slowly to earth.

I do worry about two things:
The sadness and thirst for revenge of those left behind who loved or honored the dead can easily morph into intra-family and intra-gang feuds,and from thence into the casual and frequent slaughter depicted in the two movies.
All living beings avoid death when it is near.  We are uniquely able to imagine our own deaths, and the fear and avoidance of other creatures to the imminent presence of death translates in us as future fear, not of death's immanence but of its inevitability.

This fear of certain mortality, separate from the fear generated by an imminent prospect of dying, is of ancient origin.  The phrase,Timor mortis conturbat me (The fear of death confounds me) from the Roman Catholic Office of the Dead has an uncertain origin, but perhaps dates from the Ninth Century, when  400,000 Europeans died each year from smallpox and about one third of the survivors were blinded by the disease.

Timor mortis conturbat me also appears frequently in Medieval Scottish and English poetry (e.g., William Dunbar's excellent Lament for the Makaris (ca 11490), lamenting Chaucer's inevitable death, and as recently as Kenneth Rexroth's Thou Shalt Not Kill (1953).

As death becomes more casual and frequent, I fear the fear of it will run away with some us, leading to even more cruelty than we now have.

Lotta sorrow; lotta lust for revenge, multiplying exponentially, unless we show that our institutions of faith and governance aren't moribund; or unless we, taking our fear of mortality in hand, respond with courage.

I have heard may years of telling,
And many years should see some change.

The ball I threw while playing in the park
Has not yet reached the ground.
Dylan Thomas, Should Lanterns Shine

Hatred begets hatred.

Hatred never ceases by hatred,
but by love alone is healed;
This is a great and eternal law.
Chant repeated by Buddhists in the Cambodian Killing  Fields

Perhaps after a million years of killing  
we'll decide on a different 
way to deal with the anxiety
 that fear of death

I have high hopes. 
And I live in a land at peace
for a century and a half
(North Americans slaughter on others' lands, 
though not, perhaps, for much longer).
Others' grim histories lead to other conclusions.
There is a brighter side --
There is a concurrence, perhaps a causality,
between Destruction and Creation --

And that's for another post.

P.s., see It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis.

And thanks for not Bombing Iran.  Your patience is appreciated.

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