You’ve had an argument with the children.
Later, you’ll have to go to work and bite your tongue around your boss.
Now, you’re in the bath,
reading the newspaper.
There’s a big story on the front page:
a chef in California
on becoming convinced that his wife was having an affair
dismembered her and boiled her body parts for four days.
Only a few bits of her skull were left,
and it was from these fragments that she was later identified.
Then, you read, that a couple living near Luton
claiming to offer financial advice
befriended and then poisoned a sequence of elderly clients.
Another story informs you about a woman in Spain
who stabbed her neighbor thirteen times.
For months, the woman’s dog had been barking during the day while she was at work.
She was a dental hygenist.
The neighbor complained repeatedly
left threatening notes
had called the police on multiple occasions
and once, kicked the dog in the street.
From a distance
it hardly makes sense at all
that we should find these things a source of pleasure.
Such stories deal with obviously horrible, horrendous things.
But strangly it’s reasuring
and (even though we don’t relish saying so)
enjoyable to hear about them.
We perhaps worry that by taking pleasure in reading of such stories
we’re endorsing the crimes themselves.
But the truth is
we’re not actively egging on criminals; we’re not glad these things happened.
On the contrary
it’s the very fact that they’re so clearly wrong that generates our moments of satisfaction.
One source of our pleasure
is that in many ways, these people look so normal:
the Californian chef reminds you of a cheeky boy in the classroom when you were a kid,
the woman with a dog is
like someone you just saw at the supermarket.
We mostly enconter the edited versions of other people
while we are continually exposed
to the weirder unedited version of ourselves.
The unfair comparison
means we inevitably feel much stranger
than we really are.
There’s that odd sexual thing that excites you,
or maybe you feel like crying when you get stuck in traffic,
in groups you have the strange sense that everyone is normal except you,
at work everyone feels the need to laugh at a remark which, in all honesty
strikes you as entirely unamusing.
This is where the criminals we see in the media come in.
They redraw the scale of strangeness
by being exposed as fifty times more strange
they re-position our own, lonely peculiarities
squarely back in the realm
of the humdrum and the average.
It has absolutely never ever crossed your mind to cook your partner.
In the realm of
poisoning and stabbing your neighbors
you are a snow white innocent.
This is surely one of the hidden reasons
why middle age men turn in such numbers
to reading books about Adolf Hitler.
他悲剧级的癫狂 暴怒 妄想 毁灭性与残忍
His catastrophic levels of insane, rage, delusion, destructiveness and cruelty
make, pretty much, everyone else
look quite lovely by comparison.
One may have spent the evening drinking beer
made three vaguely insulting remarks and omitted to brush one’s teeth before coming to bed.
But, by the standards of Berchtesgaden
you are revealed as really rather nice.
It’s not like you haven’t had your share of challenges,
you too have been deeply hurt by betrayal,
you too have wished for easy money and luxury possessions,
you too have had sour disputes with the neighbors.
But by comparison
you have reacted with grace.
You felt furious
suffered from envy and had periods of money worries.
But you never did what those guys from the media did.
You absorbed the pain
rather than committed some horrific crime.
their villainy is pleasing
because it reveals your quiet moral heroism.