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bear by san

December 2021



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bear by san

seven ships all on the sea; the eighth brought me to land.

Other problems with omni: I feel very guilty for withholding any information from the reader at all, because it's very obvious to me how I am manipulating the information in question, and therefor the reader's expectations--because I *always* have the option of revealing anything at any given moment, when I choose not to reveal it, I feel like I'm cheating.

(Cheating is, in my book, The Worst Writerly Sin. Cheat on me--just once--and you've often lost me as a reader for life. Agatha Christy being a prime example.)

On the other hand, if you give the reader all the information up front... there's no book. So you see my dilemna here.


Craig A. MacNeil for The Village Voice, on soldiering.


Progress notes for 5 April 2005

Whiskey & Water

New Words: 2002
Total Words: 20,338
Pages: 93

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
20,338 / 160,000

(Why does that thing have a decimal place when it does not actually track decimal increments? I ask you this in all seriousness)

Today's post on Electrolite, regarding The Astonishing Blog Post of the Week, by a gentleman who knew Stephen Peter Morin, leads me to a contemplation of something that's preyed on my mind for a good long time. It's not something that resolves itself into ready essaying, however, so it may have to wait for fiction--but I've spent a long time contemplating serial killer Ed Kemper, as an example of why the ready categories of monsters and the assessments of blame and reactions of horror with which we like to react to people who do monstrous things don't always, exactly, fit.

It's a subject SFF has been nibbling around for a long time--both Light and The Stars my Destination tackle the issue, in different ways. Someday I'll manage to get it all sorted out in my head, what exactly I'm talking about here. and then maybe I'll be able to get it into a book.

Reason for stopping: Work, drat it.
Mammalian Assistance: Mebd on the desk, Signy pokey, Marlowe visiting
Stimulants: lime passion tea, and also Tazo Wild Sweet Orange.
Exercise: none yet, and probably none today, other than walking around the airport. (I have to pick up kit_kindred tonight)
Mail: nomail
Tyop du jour: purring in the sun that bleached his glossy goat from black to darkest auburn.
Darling du jour: She let the towel drop, uncoiling it on the warped wooden floor, where it lay exhaling warm moisture like a serpent on a sun-heated rock. (The next line is about her hair.)
Books in progress: Ed Sanders, Tales of Beatnik Glory; Neal Stephenson, Quicksilver
Interesting research tidbit of the day: stamp honoring Russian battle tank engineer Michael Koshkin
Other writing-related work: none


I would guess the grey area she means is that Kemper turned himself in, and always admitted that he should never be released because he'd do it again.
That's it exactly,

He's fascinating because he's the anti-Bundy. He *knows* he's a monster, and he *knows* what he does is wrong. And can't stop anyway. It's fucking creepy to think about.
I suspect he probably is. But he's creepy fucking smart. He somehow managed to figure out that the rage-against-women was directed at his mother (who was apparently quite a twist), killed her, and then, with the trigger removed, managed to turn himself in.

In other words, he seems to have sort of... forced his own decompensation. Like an alcoholic "bottoming out" on purpose.

There's a horrific sort of heroism in that, if you squint at it the right way--and it's a terribly disturbing thing to me that I can see that. I've got enough compulsive tics of my own to find it hitting awfully close to home.

aimeempayne, I think, hit the right word downstream when she talks about Kemper presenting the appearance of "integrity."

It is indeed possible to dismiss his cooperation with interviewers as sociopathic attention-seeking, and it's much more comfortable to do so... but the fact is, Kemper doesn't get a lot of attention, except of the most sensationalistic sort, and I suspect it's in large part because he's so damned hard to look at. And if his desire to help is genuine--well, that humanizes him further, and that's really not comfortable.
The PerkyGoff is Pauley Perette, as Abby Sciuto on NCIS. (A very bad TV show I watch for the actors. And the fact that it has a Perky Goff.)

The stuff on the web about Kemper is really sensationalized. But he's interesting in specific because he turned himself in, and has made himself extensively available for interviews and to talk to psychologists and profilers in the service of catching other serial killers. He's easily as intelligent and self-aware as I (or any other reasonably smart long-term beneficiary of therapy), and if you watch interviews with the man, he's also adamant that he *cannot* be released, ever, because he will kill again.

In other words, he's a serial killer, but a non-self-justifying one. (Also, apparently one of his would-be victims talked him out of killing her, if you can imagine that.)

It's not as if your average serial killer can be trusted to provide accurate information about himself or his motives, but to all appearances, this guy appears to understand what he did, why he did it, and have some residue of conscience about it. And knows he isn't capable of self-control.
Hey, let me know what you think of Quicksilver! I've picked it up and almost bought it about...oh...5 times now.

It's beautifully written, and so far I'm not enjoying it at all. *g*
Gorgeous prose, several great characters,shiny etymology, entertaining discussions of calculus... But I suspect the plotty goodness of all three books could have made one fat hardback.
It is a bit... easy to put down and wander off from.
Yeah. That's what I was afraid of. I've put it down and wandered off 5 times already.
I'd be more interested in the evil, twisted people who do good. Hmm -- perhaps a serial resurrector?
Hm. Craig A. MacNeil and I were in the same place at the same time. He's got a slightly distorted view of junior enlisted--but then, so do most ossifers :)
*g* More and more, I begin to realize what a small war it is.
Isn't it though? On my way in, I happened to be in the same camp as unclewillie, a soldier I'd been following for months on LJ, while he was on his way out.


Junior enlisted *always* bitch. I should know: I was one of them (RA) (for the civilians, that's Regular Army, not Reserves or National Guard [bless 'em all]) for nine years. MacNeil's got 'em pegged perfectly, but what I really liked about that essay was his ability to skewer the officer corps as well. "Iconoclast" is a perfect word to describe the American soldier. The bit about the guy wearing MacNeils' helmet and body armor made me laugh so hard I cried. :) Thanks, Bear, for the link, and the memory tweak. ---Jan S.
That was the bit that got me, too.

And you're welcome!
I got Kit to the airport at 5... he should be in the air by now.
he called. TY!
I've always thought that Kemper was valuable to society because we can point to him as evidence that there are people we can't fix. His candor in interviews also helped advance the science of criminal profiling, if I'm not mistaken.

Reading about him is confusing. He was a monster, but he had a certain amount of integrity. That makes it more difficult to dismiss him as inhuman. If Ed Kemper is human, it means that his actions were those of a human, and we don't like to think about that.
Bingo. He can't be fixed.... but once you start investigating the man, it's difficult to dismiss him as evil and inhuman.

Very, very broken, and broken in incredibly dangerous ways--but curiously, he's not ...dismissable... the way Bundy was.

Ooo. I know what it is. You know the Uncanny Valley theory of what makes things monstrous? In other words, it's the things that are very, very close to human but twisted just enough to be obviously deformed that strike us with the most horror?

Bundy's not close enough to *me* to be really *horrifying.* Frightening, in that I can understand that I run the risk of meeting something like him some day. Kemper, though, I can look at and see myself in, in some way. He falls into that Uncanny Valley--he's human, but human beings aren't supposed to *be* like that.

It's awful to contemplate.
With Bundy, he's just so unlikeable. His arrogance and attitude of entitlement is easy to point to and say, "Evil!"

To a lesser extent, I have mixed feelings about Ed Gein. He appeared so harmless and kind of "soft in the head." In prison, he was characterized as gentle and polite. Of course, his acts were truly disgusting, and I'm not overly squeamish.

They make me think harder about writing villains in fiction. There is no question that Kemper and Gein are the "bad guys." That we have a small amount of sympathy for them makes them more interesting.
They make me think harder about writing villains in fiction.

Yes. What you said.