The ever-thoughtful author of We Need to Talk About Kevin weighs in:
I would far prefer that this new killer remained anonymous. Were all such culprits to remain utterly and eternally unknown, the chips on their shoulders interred with their bones, their grudges for ever private, surely the frequency of these grotesquely gratuitous sprees would plummet. One of the driving forces for most of these killers is not just to be noticed, but, however perversely, to be understood.
It turns out that Ed Falco was one of Cho Seung-Hui’s teachers. Here’s the most fascinating section:
Nikki Giovanni, a well-known poet who was also one of Cho’s teachers, found his writing so “weird” and “intimidating” that she had him removed from her class in the fall of 2005. But Falco tried a different approach. Asked why he thought Cho became an English major, Falco offered what he called a guess.
“The kid couldn’t speak. I did everything I knew to draw him out. I tried to joke with him. I touched his shoulder while asking him a direct question. I put myself in quiet, one-on-one space with him — and I still could not get articulate speech out of him.
“Yet, in writing he could communicate. You’ve seen the plays. They’re not good writing. But they are at least a form of communication. And in his responses to the other students’ plays, he could be quite articulate. If writing is the only way you can communicate with the wider world, then I guess being an English major makes sense.”
Associated Press: “The gunman suspected of carrying out the Virginia Tech massacre that left 33 people dead was identified Tuesday as an English major whose creative writing was so disturbing that he was referred to the school’s counseling service. News reports also said that he may have been taking medication for depression, that he was becoming increasingly violent and erratic, and that he left a note in his dorm in which he railed against ‘rich kids,’ ‘debauchery’ and ‘deceitful charlatans’ on campus.”
Okay, so maybe I was wrong about the guy not having an ego. I’m still stunned by the way he carried out this violence with calculated anonymity. I’m also wondering if he would have committed this violence if some brave soul dared to understand his writing. By this standard, Chuck Pahluniuk should have been sent to a counselor years ago.
Also, maybe I’m just a morbid guy, but I find it ironic that the English department chairwoman is named Carolyn Rude.
[UPDATE: Salon’s Joe Eaton has done some reporting and collected student impressions of killer Cho Seung-Hui.]
[UPDATE 2: Sarah has unearthed two of Cho Seung-Hui’s plays. Sample dialogue: “What are you, a Catholic priest! I will not be molested by an aging balding overweight pedophilic stepdad named Dick! Get your hands off me you sicko! Damn you, you Catholic priest. Just stop it, Michael Jackson. Let me guess, you have a pet named Dick in Neverland ranch and you want me to go with you to pet him, right?”]