Murder, Suicide, Self-Immolation Clusters: Observations
In the case of a person, it may not seem to remarkable that the same things seem to happen to them -- after all, they're making choices, and the choices are going to align with their tastes and proclivities, right?
In the case of places, it's sort of different. It makes me wonder if there are certain vibrations or resonances that create a situation where people behave in similar ways. I'm not talking about the obvious things -- people go swimming near bodies of water, or do daredevilish things near cliffs. I'm thinking of something that causes people to behave as though certain places were haunted, or that there might be the presence of spirits that compell people to behave in certain ways.
Case in point: Norman, Oklahoma
I've been in touch with Norman and Norman's history to be able to detect patterns -- even without a very extensive analysis, and without reaching back into history.
For example, there seem to be "murder - suicide clusters" in certain places in the town. For example, my parents' house adjoins two homes where people either committed suicide, committed murder, or both. The "murder suicide house" was built in the 1960s -- it was an ugly yellow two-story ranch house at the end of a long drive. Their lot was long, and the back part adjoined my parents' lot. I would never have known about the history of the house, except that my parents wanted me to purchase the house in order to secure the acreage and to have adjoining lots. I might have been interested -- the price seemed relatively reasonable -- except for the knowledge of what had happened there. There was no way that I would occupy a house where a doctor, who, receiving the news of terminal illness, decided to kill himself and his severely disabled wife.
That house was next door to a house where, 30 years or so earlier, a suicide had taken place. It was the mother of one of my classmates. I think it happened when we were in 5th grade, but I may be wrong. It could have been when we were in junior high school. At any rate, it was most definitely a tragedy. I had no way of truly comprehending it at the time, and I'm not sure I would be able to do so now. It's very disturbing.
Another violent cluster exists on the west side of Norman, near the edge of the South Canadian River. Back in the 1960s, two teen-agers were murdered in their car where they were presumably making out. It became the "Murder of Lover's Lane" and achieved a bit of notoriety for the fact that it was widely believed that a corrupt, dissolute cop had killed them. Why? Who knows. He was known to have been a kind of voyeuristic "bad cop."
How is this a cluster? I had not thought of in that way until a few weeks ago, police dug up a woman who had been murdered, ostensibly by her lover (and not a bad cop), and then buried in the back yard of a house for sale that had been unoccupied for more than eight months.
What linked the two? Crimes of passion. Crimes of perversity.
In the case of murder/suicide, I'd say they were crimes of despair.
I recently watched the TV footage of all the immolations sweeping north Africa, and I was reminded of images from Vietnam, when Buddhist monks immolated themselves in order to shock / horrify the populace to realize how civil war was, in essence, self-immolation -- exceedingly painful and ultimately self-destructive. Needless to say, the gesture fell on deaf ears.
However, immolation sort of gained a foothold in the U.S. during the 1960s -- not because the self-immolators wanted to show how they were a sublime metaphor for what was going on. No, the American self-immolation gesture was almost always something else -- an expression of despair and self-hatred; a cry for help gone horribly awry; the ultimate narcissistic gesture not to say self-loving, but to say that my pain is bigger than anyone else's, and I have to express it in this over-the-top, grandiose way -- and -- oops, well, it hurts, and, oops -- it's fatal.
I deeply respect the Buddhist monks' view. I only wish they had not felt the need to kill themselves to get their point across (a point which was never gotten across anyway). Yes. Civil war does the same thing as setting yourself on fire. You burn. You suffer extreme pain. You ravage your body. And then -- either slowly or less slowly - you die, and people don't care that you suffered and died. So -- the end question is, why even bother with civil war? Why start it? Why not resist violent confrontation? If you wonder what it will do for you as a culture, just witness the monk's immolation. That's the dominant metaphor. Don't forget it.
People who see patterns are rarely rewarded unless it's a pony at Saratoga.
People who see the big picture metaphor in a person's work of art or self-sacrificial gesture of resistance are few and far between. They tend to be fellow artists or writers -- they don't have much political clout.
I don't know what to say except to express the opinion that to sacrifice oneself in order to create an enormous, all-encompassing metaphor usually ends badly. So, I say, just don't do it. Say what you need to say, but don't hurt yourself. Focus on the sweetness of life. Of course, that's hard to do when you're feeling so much existential pain that all you can do is resonate with the great, global weltzschmertz / world pain that, in your own living, breathing experience, is overwhelmingly painful.
Don't give up, my friend.
We've all been there. For a guy, it might be a gun. For a women, it might be pills and an eating disorder. The weltzschmertz takes no prisoners.
But, somehow, patterns do. So, my thought is this - if you find yourself in a very destructive pattern, consider moving. There have to be "lucky" places as well as haunted and cursed, right? Go to a happy place and heal. Then, take stock of your life an think about what you might do in the future.
A video shot at a rest stop on old Route 66 in the Texas Panhandle.