Tuesday, March 04, 2008

About Those College and High School Shooters

D'ya suppose that Lord Byron had the answer?

R R Reno's First Things essay of today has a most interesting paragraph on Byron's "Cain," a play.

Doubting God’s justice and goodness, Cain would seem a sure candidate for alliance with Lucifer, the original rebel. But it is not so. In the longest scenes of the play, Byron portrays Lucifer engaging Cain in conversation, first on earth and then in the shadowy realms of hell itself. At every turn, Lucifer encourages Cain’s unbelief and tempts him with the promise of bittersweet happiness: He can achieve immortality by embracing and affirming death as the proper and true end for human beings. “Fall down and worship me, thy Lord,” exhorts Lucifer. In other words, accept human mortality and dissolution into dust as a law of life, and you will be at peace with your circumstances. It is an ancient counsel familiar to Lucretius and other materialist philosophers, and it is very much in the air these days.

One is struck by the 'promise of immortality' in exchange for the 'embrace and affirmation of death'. Certainly, that 'immortality' is granted to the college/high school shooters who then complete the embrace with their own suicides--although their 'immortality' is actually infamy, and will last only so long as the newsprint or electronic archives.

But then, we aren't allowed to discuss Lucifer in connection with all that, are we?

At the climactic scene, Abel has persuaded Cain to offer a sacrifice to God:

Byron is, I think, quite perceptive as he depicts Cain hurtling toward murder. The piety he tolerated in his brother now enrages him. The sacrificial ritual he had so half-heartedly performed now disgusts him. Cain’s hand is being forced by the reality of his brother’s faith, and the decision is clear. “Give way!” he screams as he pushes toward Abel’s altar to destroy it and all the perversions of it represents, “This bloody record shall not stand in the sun to shame creation.” Unbelief will not—and, as Byron suggests, cannot—stand at ease.

Anyone recognize the Colorado high-school shooter's voice? Anyone?

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