Friday, June 12, 2009

The Satire of Death

Living abroad, the small-talk niche usually occupied by the weather or local sports team is filled by two questions:
  • "So what brought you to [Name of Country]?"
  • "When do you think you'll be moving home?"
Though initially an exciting chance for some minor self-exposition, these eventually become as rote & dull an anecdote as talking about, well, the weather or local sports team. People develop routine replies that can be rattled off in a single sentence and earn a few laughs while they're at it. My stock wisecrack involved a global prognosis so doomy that I would never move back to the States, if only because when the shit really hit the fan, I didn't want to be in a country where everyone was armed to the teeth.

Which is all well & good as a gag in casual conversation, but is chillingly underscored & stripped of any satirical overtones by the disturbing events of the past couple of weeks - doubly so because this is The Inevitable we've been waiting for. Now those with blood on their hands and a well-publicised bloodlust are somehow claiming not only that they've been painted red by their nemeses, but that their hands are clean. This is the sociocultural equivalent of "fixing" the financial crisis by pouring what little money remains back into the corrupt corporations who fucked us over in the first place.

They say that amateurs discuss tactics while professionals debate logistics, but the answer isn't simply a matter of gun control. There is, for example, an arguable link between gun ownership in the US (50%) and Canada (29%) and their murder rates (8.40 and 5.45 per 100,000 respectively). But this correlation isn't consistent: Finland has more guns per capita than any other European nation, yet their murder rate is a blessedly miniscule 1.98 per 100,000. Russia, meanwhile, has a only handful of firearms but a murder rate exceeded only by (in ascending order) Venezuela, Jamaica, South Africa, and Colombia.

So from whence spills this violence in the American character? Is it inherent, founded as it was by a genocidal venture capitalists and religious fanatics? Is America, in the words of National Lampoon's Vacation, "all fucked in the head"?

Fears Of Gun

1. Fumio Hayasaka - "Stray Dog"
2. Jimpson & Group - "The Murderer's Home"
3. Scientist - "Blood On His Lips"
4. The Clash - "Guns of Brixton"
5. Lungfish - "Oppress Yourself"
6. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds - "The Curse of Millhaven"
7. Michael Yonkers - "Kill the Enemy"
8. Butthole Surfers - "Graveyard"
9. El-P - "Deep Space 9mm"
10. Brainbombs - "Stupid & Weak"
11. The Birthday Party - "Hamlet (Pow, Pow, Pow)" (Live)
12. Swans - "Beautiful Child"
13. Grails - "More Extinction"

Update: I'm not the only one to have noted that it's just been a spiky, unpleasant kinda week...

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