On the Brutality of the Soul – Bailey Snow
January 5, 2022
When I was 18 years old, I saw a man self-Zodiac; he shot himself in his parked car with a .38.
The muted shattering of his sunroof has permanently implanted itself within my psyche. A prion of past experience, the memory lingers torpidly, quietly waiting to rear its ugly head in my life. The sound of tempered glass breaking was previously one I loved, but now forces an uncomfortable return to that fateful moment. As a young man, I used to throw rocks through bus stops and the windows of parked cars for my own amusement, and the noise would entice uncontrollable giggles and a full sprint away from the scene of the petty crime. My motivations for doing so still remain unclear. The only semblance of an explanation I have is my fascination with decay and destruction. But perhaps this is simply a self-justification to bury my own unhinged id. Yet this essence is a deeply integral part of the human condition. It is why snuff films are the stuff of legend. It is why anyone born between ’95 and ’99 has seen a cartel beheading video on the internet. It is why Mayhem put a photo of their own singer’s suicide on an album cover.
We all have both a fascination and insurmountable proclivity towards violence and destruction. The brawls in daycare more closely resemble attempted murder than any bar fight I’ve ever witnessed. It is both incredibly untruthful and irresponsible to say “I am not a violent person in any way, and only this group of people over here are.” To do so is an illusion and a fantasy, one that glosses over the very nature of our souls. The only constants throughout human history are the need for water and our sheer brutality. The venom that a menace to society spews in public is simply being bottled in private by those we may consider “respectable” citizens. Every single one of us is capable of acts of incredible depravity: me, you, the old lady walking down the street. Those who preach that nonviolence is the only righteous path are the corporal barbarians. See Gandhi, John Lennon, and Mother Teresa for more information.
In spite of this, we preach the virtue of non-violence to our children in the hopes that they may somehow evolve beyond their own nature, yet tell the same children that they should aspire to be the President. The same office that has overseen dropping $184,000 worth of bombs daily on foreign countries for the past two decades.
Is the violence any more justifiable because we can’t see it? Why do we permit violence only if it is sophisticated? Why is bloodshed excused if it is conduced with a smile, a suit, and an Ivy League diploma?
We say babies have no object permanence, yet the adults have no violence permanence.
If they can’t see it, they believe it doesn’t exist.
And I am deeply unsettled of the dark turbulent waters of the human soul.
But I can’t tell if I am frightened of the water itself or of my reflection in it.