Thursday, May 29, 2014


The woman in the lower left hand corner was not in the original negative but is in the final photo. No one knows her identity. (From the El Paso High School public pictures; excerpted from BorderZine.)

"Signals do not convey information as railway trains carry coal.  Rather we should say: signals have an information content by virtue of their potential for making selections.  Signals operate upon the alternatives forming the recipients' doubt.  They give power to discriminate amongst or select from alternatives." 
-- Sir Colin Cherry, On The Statistical Theory of Communication.

With terrible predictability, reactions in the media and online to the Elliot Rodger murders in Santa Barbara have reverted to “meditations on a hobbyhorse” fuzzy thinking and tragic, self-absorbed ranting.

  Pundits, poets, and professional scolds and defamers have taken to passionate forcing of their square peg political and cultural views into what seems to be the round hole reality of Rodger's organic madness.  

Which is to say, the self-involved, self-regarding, but sane seem disinclined to recognize that Rodger wasn’t, and want to join and unite his parents, his fantasy childhood girlfriends, the appalling (but still legal) Hunger Games franchise, and the best hobbyhorse of all, “America,” in the fetid bathwater of collective (expressly excluding themselves) guilt.

  When I worked as a very junior Assistant District Attorney in Brooklyn a long time ago, I rarely heard about unsolved crimes.  There must have been some, but the crimes I handled generally involved someone “caught in the act” as in the Rodger case.  The “spontaneous exclamations” recorded by the police at the time of arrest conveyed specific statements (usually, but not always, rational) of purpose, e.g., "I needed the money,” “She burned the steak,” “I’m a dumb fuck.”  Elliot Rodger explained himself over and over.  Read "My Twisted Mind: The Story of Elliot Rodger by Elliot Rodger."  Look at the YouTube videos.

In high schools and colleges today, we are constantly assaulted by the use of the pretentious expression “critical reading.”  I think Elliot Rodger provided us more than enough material to elucidate his mad act.  It’s time to drill down on the basic text and not drag in the wheezy, sleazy Pseud's Corner bibliographical references and glosses. 

1986 Graduating class - The girl  in white, center, was not in the original negative but is in the developed photo. No one knows who she is. (From the El Paso High School public pictures; excerpted from BorderZine)

Mott The Hoople: When My Mind's Gone (Link)


  1. So, are you saying that the pundits keep saying the same old things, are on 'automatic pilot' with their commentary every time another mass murder by madman occurs? And that they use the tragedy as an occasion to reinforce their own agenda? I will email you at the old email address I have for you with further thoughts. - Anne

    1. Yes, they do that. So does a poet friend of mine. And a conservative-light talk radio personality I sometimes listen to. The common denominator among all these commentators, who say different things, is that they tend to treat the perpetrator as if he were a sane, rather than an insane, person. I don't know whether you've read My Twisted Mind or viewed the videos, but they're fascinating on many levels. And really depressing also (obviously). Curtis

    2. I should add that the poet friend is a dyed-in-the-wool '60s liberal who is incredibly intelligent but tends to fall into certain patterns of rigidity and intolerance sometimes. Curtis

  2. Hi Curtis, I tend to want to throw something when I hear pundits and "experts" talk about motivation when something like this happens. Motifivation is irrelevant when mental illness is a factor. Moreover, predicting when/if an afflicted person will act on his impulses is improbably or impossible. Nell

    P.S. I see you've almost reasched 100 followers!. A celebration will be in order!

    1. Hi Nell. Exactly. The Rodger case has been an equal opportunity occasion for idiocy on the right and left sides of the political spectrum. I've rarely seen so many people missing the target by so wide a mark. Elliot Rodger's "manifesto" and his videos are all remarkable (but highly depressing) documents. Yes, almost 100 followers. As notable, I'm approaching 1 million page views, which seems like a lot to me. But it's the end of the school year and we feel more exhausted by that than energized by the beginning of summer. And it's freezing here. By the way, when I was in the D.A.'s office, someone really did spontaneously utter the sentence "I'm a dumb fuck" in explanation of his crime. It was the improbably named "Duane Modest" (real name) who used the pseudonym/"street name "Carl Jones." It was . . . Warholian. Curtis