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Swatting Flies:
Reflections on Men & Murder

Hercules battles the hydra

4,531 words

Recently I suffered a plague of flies. It started small, with just a couple. I noticed one buzzing around the living room, moving at a fairly leisurely clip. It was easy to kill, a deed I committed with a dish towel. But I quickly noticed a second one, which seemed rather odd to me. The apartment was relatively clean. There were no rotting carcasses about, or starving African children.

I didn’t think much of this until about a day later, when I found four or so of the little buggers in my kitchen. That was in the morning, when I was in a hurry to get to work. I killed a couple, then headed out. Needless to say, I gave the flies no further thought for the next several hours, until I was pulling into the driveway in the late afternoon. It was then that I thought of the flies once more, and wondered with a kind of sinking feeling whether their numbers had multiplied. Indeed they had. I found at least nine of them in the kitchen, and busily setting about trying to thin out the herd.

It was in the kitchen that they normally congregated. I was therefore convinced that there had to be some kind of filth lurking in there somewhere. Perhaps a bit of rotting sausage had fallen between the stove and the sink. Perhaps my cat had pursued a wounded mouse till the thing had crawled under the refrigerator and died. I looked everywhere and thoroughly cleaned the place. But it did no good. Day after day the flies were back, and their numbers kept increasing. There was one day when I reckon I must have killed fifteen of them.

I went to the local drugstore and bought fly paper. The kind you see in movies set in places like Havana: hanging from the ceiling, shimmering in the golden rays of the July sun, and shivering a bit in the breeze from the rusty old table fan. There was indeed something romantic about it. I pictured myself sitting under the flypaper, wearing a Panama hat and smoking a stogie. The trouble is that flypaper just doesn’t work. After several days every last strip of it was bare. I kept moving the strips around, hanging them in doorways, convinced this would catch the flies as they flew from room to room. But they just flew right around it – and I got stuck in the stuff as I made my way around the apartment, forgetting it was there. Did flypaper ever work?

After several days I noticed was getting better at killing them with the dish towel. The trick is to wait till the flies light on something, then sneak up on them very carefully until your hand and your weapon are actually quite close. Then – smack! Speed is absolutely crucial here. The trouble is that the dish towel displaced the air and the flies got a warning rush of wind before the towel came down. The younger, quicker ones would zoom away.

It was then that I came to appreciate the brilliant design of the traditional plastic fly swatter. Its perforated paddle reduces the degree to which air is displaced as the thing comes wooshing towards an unwary fly. I acquired two at the local dime store. Armed with this specially-designed technology, I now perfected my fly killing skills.

Instead of flailing at them all over the kitchen I simply stood calmly at the center of the room . . . and waited. I no longer struggled to watch the little black dots flying about, trying to spy where they had landed. Instead, my eyes slowly scanned the surfaces of the kitchen. I would see one on the handle of the refrigerator door. Moving quickly but silently, I would position my body within range. Then I would extend my arm, getting the swatter as close to the fly as possible. And, with a speed that often surprised even me, my swatter would flash forward. Sometimes I never saw the fly fall. It would just appear on the floor, its little legs barely discernible, reaching skyward.

Often I would move in rapid succession. An execution on the refrigerator door handle would be followed by one on the stove. Then one on the venetian blinds. Sometimes I would come into the kitchen and it would seem to be completely free of flies. No little dots whizzing through the air, no buzzing. But I quickly realized they were trying to outsmart me. I looked up – and there they were clinging to the ceiling. It wasn’t that bright a move, though. All I had to do to kill them was extend my arm up and brush the swatter swiftly across the ceiling tiles. The impact would cause the flies to go crashing into the walls, and falling to the floor. Dead from multiple contusions.

A few days earlier I had been jumping about and cursing, working up a sweat. Now I had found a little center of stillness within myself, from which I was capable of calmly dealing out death. I found myself gripping the swatter less tightly as I struck. A light grip was all that it took. My movements became graceful – but, in a strange sense, automatic. As if some dark power were working through me, and all I had to do was calmly allow it to take possession of my body. I looked at the swatter in my hand and thought, “I do not strike. It strikes all by itself.”

At first when I killed a fly I would immediately reach for a piece of paper toweling and scoop up the little thing and toss it into the trash. Then I stopped bothering, I was killing so many. The kitchen floor was now littered with the corpses of my victims. Something about this appealed to me and I didn’t mind stepping over their little bodies. Of course, one reason I had earlier cleaned them up so quickly was that I didn’t want the flies to suffer. Sometimes I would only wound one, and then I would see it lying on its back sputtering in what must have been (to a fly) unspeakable agony. When I picked up the flies with my toweling I would always crush them to put them out of their misery as quickly as possible.

After killing dozens of them, however, I became hardened. I remember one morning in particular. I was making breakfast when I saw one dart in front of me and sail off towards the wine rack. I was mildly amused by the little thing’s hubris in flying so close to me – so close to the angel of death. Hadn’t it heard? Calmly I lifted my swatter, twirling it in my fingers like it was a light-weight spear. Then, in a twinkling, I had dispatched the fly—crushing it against an empty box of cat litter. I could hear the little thing lying there buzzing in agony. But I had some toast to butter. Which I then calmly ate while standing in the kitchen listening to the insect’s death throes.

And then it occurred to me: I’m taking pleasure in this. At first, the thought disturbed me, and I recoiled from it. After all, what kind of person would that make me? A sociopath? When I was in grade school, I remember hearing whispers about a little boy in our neighborhood. He was “not quite right,” the adults said. His parents had bought him a succession of pets, each of which he had killed in one way or another. None of the other parents would allow their children near him, and there was talk of taking him out of school. “Am I that sort of person?” I thought to myself. It’s a question that has actually occurred to me in one form or another for years.

From time to time I have violent fantasies (as well as violent dreams). I’ve sat in meetings and imagined myself cleaving a colleague’s head with an axe. I’ve stood in lines or sat on buses dreaming up ways to torture annoying people that would have shocked the Marquis de Sade. When I’ve found myself doing this sort of thing it always disturbs me. I’ve often thought it’s as if there’s a devil living inside me somewhere.

The dreams I’ve had are even worse – though I haven’t had any violent dreams in a long time, actually. Mainly I had them when I was much younger and going through a lot of emotional turmoil. The pattern of the dreams was always basically the same. They would involve some horrible act of violence or sadism, but never perpetrated by me. I was always a helpless onlooker – but completely incapable of intervening to stop what was happening before my eyes. I would awaken from these dreams often horrified and disgusted at myself. After all, I had created the dream. It was my imagination that did it. How was I capable of such thoughts? And what did it all mean?

And now my experience with the flies had yet again brought me face to face with the darker side of myself. A side that enjoyed causing suffering and death. My cat came in the kitchen shortly thereafter, looking to be fed. I’ve had this cat for twelve years. She has been with me through thick and thin, and in some ways I regard her as my best friend. Could I torture or kill her, as I had the flies? I immediately realized that I could not, that it would be impossible for me. This thought was reassuring. I could kill the flies because they were my enemies. They had invaded my home. They were annoying me and spreading germs. And they were definitely not cute. I felt no qualms at all about what I had done to the flies. It was me against them, and I had acted with just cause.

And yet — to take pleasure in killing and tormenting them. That thought still disturbed me. But not for long.

One afternoon while standing in the kitchen and wiping little specks of fly blood off the linoleum, I realized that it is not just psychopaths who take pleasure in killing and causing suffering. This is universal to the human species – though, as I will argue in a moment, I think it is most strongly felt by men. Now, this “discovery” of mine may strike you as glaringly obvious. Didn’t we all know this already? Yet it’s one of the truths that we usually admit to knowing only when we’re confronted with it. Otherwise we go around in complete and total denial of it.

Consider the following. What reason do hunters give for what they do? I’m not talking about hunter-gatherers who depend upon killing game for dinner. I’m talking about guys who take weekend trips out into the boonies loaded up with ammo and cheap beer. Sure, they may bring home a deer and feast on its meat for a few weeks. But that’s not why they went out in the woods. And it wasn’t to drink beer with their friends either. Quite obviously, they were re-connecting with their primeval male role and delighting in surprising and killing another living thing. But if you ask hunters why they do it they’ll tell you it was because they like venison, or because they enjoy getting away for the city, or because they wanted to spend time with their friends. You’ll seldom hear one admit the truth: “I enjoy killing.”

And the same is true of soldiers. When asked why they kill, they always tell us that they are serving their country, or that they are “liberating” the people they are killing. On one level, of course, this is entirely true (at least in the sense that they think these things are true). But if you were to ask them if they take pleasure in killing, you would find scarcely one who will admit to it. Now, many very well may not take any pleasure in what they do. And I have indeed talked to some soldiers who seemed thoroughly traumatized and disgusted by having had to kill other human beings. But I wonder whether they might be in the minority. And I wonder in some cases if the trauma might have been caused by the realization that they actually did enjoy killing.

In unguarded moments, soldiers certainly talk like they enjoy killing. In 2007 U.S. Apache helicopter pilots accidentally killed a Reuters reporter and his crew. “Look at those dead bastards,” one pilot was caught saying on tape. “Nice,” replied the other. A Marine sharpshooter in Baghdad told a reporter “We had a great day. We killed a lot of people.”

During World War Two, the British secretly taped the conversations of German POWs. One bomber pilot was recorded as saying “It became a need in me to drop bombs. It tingles me, gives me a fine feeling. Just as beautiful, in fact, as shooting at someone.” Another German said “I used to shoot at everything. We liked to go for women pushing prams, often with children at their sides. It was a kind of sport, really.”

Of course, some of this may be false bravado, or a desire to shock (especially when talking to reporters). Perhaps these men actually loathed killing, but felt that they had to put up a false front to seem “manly.” Since the Second World War, in fact, it has been popular with Left Wing intellectuals to claim that despite what soldiers say they really can’t abide killing – and, indeed, can barely be induced to do it at all. This claim really got off the ground as a result of a widely-publicized, and apparently fraudulent, study carried out on infantrymen following the war. Allegedly, the majority of the men claimed that they could not even bring themselves to fire their weapons at the enemy. In subsequent interviews, however, the same soldiers denied not only that they ever made such statements to the psychologists conducting the study; they denied ever even being asked whether they’d been reluctant to fire their weapons.

Stephen Pinker mentions this anecdote in his book The Blank Slate and notes that “Recent surveys of soldiers in battle and of rioters in ethnic massacres find that they often kill with gusto, sometimes in a state they describe as ‘joy’ or ‘ecstasy.’” This has to remind us of the Berserkers from whom so many Counter-Currents readers are descended. The absurd Leftist claims about masses of reluctant soldiers are merely an extension of the Rousseauian fantasy of the “noble savage” (a major target of Pinker’s book). Leftists want to believe that human beings are naturally “good,” and that killing just isn’t in their nature. Society or patriarchy or capitalism or something forces them into it, against their better nature.

But in evolutionary terms we ought to expect that people would enjoy killing. Indeed, it would be surprising if they didn’t. And furthermore, there’s a strong argument to be made that not enjoying killing is dysfunctional and dysgenic; a perversion, one might say.

It’s a biological truism that the activities and functions necessary for survival and reproduction are all pleasure-inducing. Two obvious examples are eating and having sex. People have a tendency to name sex as the most intense bodily pleasure. But they would sooner give up sex than give up eating. And the pleasure of eating after a long fast is far more gratifying than an orgasm. This is how it should be: we have a drive to reproduce, but our lives don’t depend on it. And if we die of starvation we may never reproduce. So the drive to eat is stronger, and so is the satisfaction it produces. But much else that has to do with biological necessity is a source of pleasure. Defecation and urination are two obvious examples that we don’t often mention in polite company.

Fighting and killing are also necessary for survival, and so it should be no surprise that they can provide us with exquisite pleasure. I can imagine the reader squirming in his chair at this line. But it’s true. This is the dark side of our nature, gentle reader. But there’s no denying it. Nature made mayhem and killing pleasurable because the organism often needs to be able to destroy and kill in order to survive – and to protect the social unit it depends upon. It stands to reason that an organism that felt pain (physical or psychological) as a result of aggression would be less likely to aggress – and thus more likely to die without passing its genes along.

Nature has therefore selected for human beings who have the capacity to enjoy killing, or at least to be able to do it with little or no pain. But I should be more specific: nature has selected for males who bear this trait. That killing is primarily the business of men is too well-known to require much argument. The reason women don’t go hunting has nothing to do with not enjoying the great outdoors. It has to do with the fact that they feel sorry for the deer. Tough, frontier-type women weren’t so soft and gooey about hunting, of course. But that was because their lives (and the lives of their children) depended upon it. Women in modern America recognize, correctly, that the boys won’t starve if they don’t go hunting; killing the deer is unnecessary. And the men know this too. But their blood lust is stronger than women’s, so they go and do it anyway.

Mark Dyal writes in his essay “Paganism without Swords”: “It is heartwarming to watch the facial and body language of every man that picks up a bladed weapon. They are instantly transformed, not in thinking, ‘boy, it would be nice to slice some cheese with this,’ but instead, ‘this would look great buried in someone’s ribs.’ Something primordial is reawakened, if only for an instant, but it is there.” And: “There must be something horrible and magical about killing someone into whose eyes we may stare.” This is a significant choice of words. Horrible? Yes. But magical as well – beautiful, even. This is truly a “guy thing” if ever there was one.

Society, of course, places boundaries around blood lust, just as it does around the sex drive. And this is one of the most basic characteristics of civilization. Sex is hemmed in (or used to be hemmed in) in such a way that it not only doesn’t threaten social order but is positively beneficial to it. For the most part, men used to have to sublimate their sex drives until marriage, whereupon sex became a device for bringing more citizens into the world. Sex outside marriage, and sex that violated marriage compacts, was often dealt with harshly. Similarly, civilization forces men to channel their desire to kill into socially-acceptable forms. The most obvious example would be soldiering. Or being an executioner (a profession that really needs to make a comeback). Or a government assassin, like James Bond.

Society forces us to give “good reasons” for killing, and the top one is that we are killing for the good of society. And indeed many soldiers and assassins do sincerely profess that they are killing for their country and the common good. But there is always a reward involved, one far more gratifying than medals: the pleasure of killing itself. Of course, there’s pleasure involved in murder as well. The difference is that most murderers later feel guilt. Why? For no other reason than that the murder violated “the rules”; it was not sanctioned by the social order.

To be sure, soldiers and government assassins sometimes also feel guilt later on, but I’ll wager they do so far less often than those who commit unlawful murder. And many seem completely unplagued by guilt, even when they are shooting mothers pushing prams. I also think it’s probable that soldiers are much more likely to feel guilt when they are intelligent enough to realize that the words of their politicians are lies and that their government-sanctioned murder really isn’t protecting the folks back home. However, in situations where their people really are directly imperiled, I would wager soldierly guilt is much less common.

Men who are capable of killing for no good reason – indeed, who feel no need even to tell lies to themselves about why they kill – are psychopaths. In one way, the psychopathic killer is no different from most men: he is a natural born killer, and will enjoy killing if given the opportunity. But unlike most men his desire to kill cannot be channeled and made socially useful. And the reason for this is that he is incapable of forming real, personal connections with others and empathizing with them. One widely-recognized characteristic of the psychopath, in fact, is his inability to form ties even with those closest to him, such as members of his own family or race.

An odd fact about serial killers is that they actually tend to exclusively kill members of their own race. Whatever the underlying reasons for this may be, it certainly indicates that psychopaths are unlikely to make good white nationalists. The pre-condition for channeling men’s blood lust into socially useful forms is their ability to feel a natural tie with those like themselves. If this is absent in a man, he is truly no better than a rabid animal. The normal man is a killer too, but his blood lust is tempered by his ability to feel sympathy with those like himself.

Of course, all of the above points to the inescapable conclusion that the readiness to kill for one’s own group or society is a social virtue. But, again, society has to place strict moral and legal boundaries around the desire to kill in order for it to become such a virtue. This inevitably means that some men (e.g., those who never become soldiers or assassins) never get to truly express their blood lust. And even those who do still carry an excess of blood lust that needs an outlet. The situation is exactly analogous to sex. Hemmed in by society’s rules, most men carry around an excess of sexual desire that is never expressed in actual sexual intercourse. The result, of course, is masturbation, and the vicarious enjoyment of sexuality through pornography.

It’s often been observed that for men contact sports like football, soccer, and rugby are a form of “war substitute,” and this is obviously true. Contact sports are to our lust for killing as masturbation is to sexual intercourse. And the analogy between watching sports and watching porn is fairly obvious. And did you know that testosterone increases in men watching sports – especially if their team wins – just as it does in men watching porn?

Is there also a connection between the lust to kill and the lust to rut? Is there something like a sexual thrill in killing? We tend to think that this is something that could be truly only of very, very sick psychopaths. (The kind that make normal psychopaths blush.) But I’m not so sure. Mark Dyal quotes a character in novelist Steven Pressfield’s Gates of Fire:

Killing a man is like fucking, boy, only instead of giving life you take it. You experience the ecstasy of penetration as your warhead enters the enemy’s belly and the shaft follows. You see the whites of his eyes roll inside the sockets of his helmet. You feel his knees give way beneath him and the weight of his faltering flesh draw down the point of your spear. Are you picturing this? Is your dick hard yet?

Goodness. Enough to make you wonder if there might actually be something to all those Freudian, feminist interpretations of spears, swords, guns, and rockets as surrogate phalluses.

It’s an interesting fact that fighting (whether real or pretend) and “war play” begins in little boys long before puberty. And, of course, it’s relatively uncommon in little girls. The reason appears to be that testosterone masculinizes the brains of little boys while they are still in the womb. In other words, they are already little killers right when they enter the world, and well before puberty and sexual desire ever set in. This is actually quite significant, really. It means that in a way the will to fight and to kill are a much more deeply-rooted, primal part of male nature than the desire to have sex.

We all feel sorry for the very tiny number of men who go through their entire lives and remain virgins. We feel that some very basic, fundamental aspect of their being has never achieved fulfillment. In many traditional cultures killing is a right of passage for young men. But in the modern world almost every man ends his life as a virgin where killing is concerned. (Most men go their entire lives without ever even getting into a fistfight.) We do not reflect on it, but it means – in fact – that an even deeper, more primal part of their masculine being goes unfulfilled.

Men are so sex- and porn-obsessed in the modern world because they aren’t allowed to be killing-obsessed. They speak about women they’ve slept with as notches on their belts – as if they were talking about kills. Sex and sexual conquest mean more to men today because real killing and conquest is closed off for them.

Hardier souls, however, are attracted to closer approximations to bloodletting, like mixed martial arts: the number of MMA academies has skyrocketed in the last several years. Remember in old movies how guys would sometimes just haul off and smack each other? (“Why, you dirty . . . !” SMACK!) It used to be that men would get in fights and shrug it off – and most boys had been in some scuffles at some point in their youth. Not anymore. Slug a smartass now and you’ll lose your job and spend a couple of years in the clink. And Big Sister is watching the playground, eternally vigilant lest bullying arise and forever scar the souls of sensitive young boys.

It’s enough to make you wanna kill somebody . . .

And enough to give you hope for the future. Because unless they find some way to screw it up, our nature isn’t changing. The emasculating, pacifying, “safe” modern world will never truly satisfy men. The peace they make with it will always be unstable, and ready to crack. I feel like a Marxist talking about “historical inevitability,” but it seems to me historically inevitable that given this tension, more and more men will abjure the modern, feminized realm. And all that pent up blood lust will boil over. A lot of flies are going to get swatted. And history will end – and begin again. Not with a whimper, but with a bang.

(See also my review of Jack Donovan’s The Way of Men. And see the book itself.)

 

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24 Comments

  1. me
    Posted November 20, 2012 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    LOL at the fly analogy as I had the same problem with flies last week. I wondered where the heck the flies were coming from! I couldn’t believe the huge number flies coming out of nowhere and swatting them.

    As for killing other human beings – author forgot to mention the popularity of movies showing many fight & battle scenes and the violent video games. It’s all part of the satisfying the desire of killing others.

  2. Herman
    Posted November 20, 2012 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    A good substitute for real killing, that’s dueling in German traditional student fraternities, the corps, burschenschaften, landmannschaften etc. The fighters are armed with “schlaegers”, a kind of straight sabers about 3 ft long, sharpened at both edges; all vital parts of the body are covered by protective gear. An active member usually has to fight 5 duels, but many are so enthusiastic about dueling that they fight 10 or more “Partien”. There are never any serious wounds, but blood is flowing abundantly, and many scars remain, most of them under the hairs, but often visible in the face. And yes, you have a definite feeling of triumph when you feel that your blade is biting into the flesh of your adversary instead of hitting the other’s blade or protective gear. The adversary is no personal enemy, but was selected by the fraternities’ management according to body height, strength and fighting experience.
    Today, the traditional student fraternities still exist, but are always attacked by by leftists, are barely tolerated by the university administration, and have difficulties to recruit new members, especially since the culture revolution of 1968.

  3. D. McCulloch
    Posted November 20, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Costello’s claim that killing is intrinsically pleasurable in the way of eating or sex, or even urination or defecation (which is a kind of negative pleasure in that it is more a relief of discomfort)is obviously not true. Killing takes place over a range of distances and intensities of realization, from up close and personal to far away and abstract. It is not a bodily pleasure as such. If there is any pleasure in it at all, it is down to intents and purposes, reasons and expectations – in other words, it is mental conditioning and character that determine it. When the reasons are wrong, we call it murder. We don’t wink and nod at the murderer in knowing understanding of the act; we put him down like a dog. If a killer has only “pleasure” as his reason, we recognize the sociopath. The sociopath is not the most real dude in the room, in touch with his inner darwinian, the only guy honest enough to admit the truth about killing. He’s sick, see.

    I can only hope that Mr. Costello is only trying out this thesis, as it were, and not fully committed to it. Otherwise, I don’t hesitate to say that he is some kind of proto-sociopath himself, if he could actually internalize the doctrine he here promotes. I’m disappointed to find this article here, as it is subversive in the extreme. That is, it is subversive of virtue, not liberalism.

    • rhondda
      Posted November 20, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

      Oh my and I thought I was thick.

    • Verlis
      Posted November 22, 2012 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

      D. McCulloch,

      You are certainly correct that killing is not an intrinsic or bodily pleasure and that whether it is ‘pleasurable’ at all – whether there is any possibility of it being considered pleasurable – depends entirely on the context in which killing is performed. But you don’t on to provide an answer, which is unfortunate since readers could have benefited from your obvious wisdom.

      I believe morally justified killing can be considered pleasurable in much the same way that the performance of any moral duty can be considered pleasurable. Knowing that one ‘did the right thing’ can be an intensely fulfilling (i.e. ‘pleasurable’) experience. I am afraid of death but going to my death as a result of having done the right thing is something I believe I could do relatively calmly. I have little desire to kill but if I could be convinced that killing was a moral duty I believe I could do it and even do it well.

      It is at this point that confusion between the performance of a moral duty and the specific action undertaken in performance of it can arise. That is, the pleasure derived from the performance of the moral duty can be transferred to act of killing itself, just as some confuse telling the truth in performance of the moral duty to not seek unfair advantage or harm others by lying with telling the truth at all times, even when the truth unnecessarily harms others.

  4. Andrees
    Posted November 20, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think the pleasure is necessarily killing people as such, but rather exercising power over others. The most sadistic acts of mean-spiritedness I see comes from socially submissive people relishing their brief moments of power over others’ emotions and bodies. When more socially dominant people cause harm, it’s more of an act of carelessness and belligerence than cruelty.

    • Jaylaw
      Posted November 27, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

      I agree with this comment. In high school I was a surfer and on swim teams. During the summer some other swimmers and I would always get jobs at public pools as life guards. There were always nerdy kids who got their life-guarding certs. ( its actually easy if you can swim). The nerdy kids made nerdy life guards. They clearly liked to exercise their new found “power”. They would always be blowing the whistle and yelling. “No running” “No Horseplay” while the swimmer/surfer lifeguards talked to girls and got a tan. However, when an emergency took place, it was the swimmer/surfer lifeguards who performed the rescues while the nerds just blew whistles. These nerds were definitely the socially submissive types.

  5. Posted November 20, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    “It is heartwarming to watch the facial and body language of every man that picks up a bladed weapon. They are instantly transformed, not in thinking, ‘boy, it would be nice to slice some cheese with this,’ but instead, ‘this would look great buried in someone’s ribs.’ Something primordial is reawakened, if only for an instant, but it is there.”

    I’ve met with a surprisingly large number of MTF transgendered folks in the heavy metal community (well, glam/metal), mostly from Minnesota or upstate New York, all of fine Nordic stock. Tall, some over 6 feet, blonde, dolichocephalic.

    They mostly seem be be guitarists, lead guitarists at that, and no matter how “female identified” they profess to be, the one “male” personality aspect they retain [apart from an interest in metal, of course] is an obsession with guitars – playing, collecting, fixing, ultimately building their own to get them ‘just right’. I suspect the latter is connected with the whole reconstruction thing. But no matter the high heels and glitter, give them a guitar and they suddenly become teenage boys again.

    Bringing together transexuals, weapons, heavy metal, Minnesota, White folks, serial killers, “strange children” and flying insects inevitably calls to mind this exchange:

    Lecter: The significance of the moth is change. Caterpillar into chrysalis or pupa. From thence into beauty. Our Billy wants to change too.

    Clarice: (puzzled) There’s no correlation in the literature between trans-sexualism and violence. Trans-sexuals are very passive.

    Lecter: Clever girl. You’re so close to the way you’re gonna catch him. Do you realize that?

    Clarice: No, tell me why.

    Lecter: There are three major centers for trans-sexual surgery: Johns Hopkins, the University of Minnesota, and Columbus Medical Center. I wouldn’t be surprised if Billy had applied for sex reassignment at one or all of them, and been rejected.

    Clarice: On what basis would they reject him?

    Lecter: Look for severe childhood disturbances associated with violence. Our Billy wasn’t born a criminal, Clarice. He was made one through years of systematic abuse. Billy hates his own identity, you see, and he thinks that makes him a trans-sexual. But his pathology is a thousand times more savage and more terrifying.

    Last line of Psycho: “I wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

  6. Corey
    Posted November 20, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    I think Mr. Costello’s thesis is accurate up to a point, but he’s making some unspoken assumptions in his analogy that are false and need to be addressed. These are all instincts, and they all feel good when fulfilled. But if you lose the purpose of the instinct, and let it run wild, tragedy always ensues. Obviously we don’t eat whatever we want, we don’t have sex with anyone and everyone. And I’d go so far to say that sex and food are actually far less pleasurable the more we abuse them. The same goes for killing. I can imagine standing over my kill, be it food or an invader, feeling triumphant, powerful, etc. But only if there was a justified reason for it, and only if it wasn’t excessive. Killing when someone is invading your home, when a foreign enemy is attacking you, or when a murderer is struggling for breath as he hangs in the public square, are all healthy and normal. Skipping over the purpose, meaning and proper measure, would make killing pretty meaningless, purposeless, and ultimately pleasureless. So don’t think you can skip from the type of killing you’re talking about, to the kind that occurs with obsessive serial killers or something like that. Even U.S. military members probably THINK they’re doing something right. They’re mistaken of course, but they do think that.

    I didn’t need to write all this, because the Greeks/Romans had it right as usual. You know, the whole golden mean, moderation, and virtue deal. Why would the rider allow the elephant to do what it pleases? He will get crushed ultimately.

  7. Peter
    Posted November 20, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    Concerning serial killers, Justin Cottrell has some interesting statistics. 94.23% of white serial killers killed within their race, but of black serial killers a shocking 33.79% selected exclusively white victims and a further 25.11% killed a mixture of blacks and whites. His list of US black serial killers has reached well over eight hundred.

    • Lew
      Posted November 20, 2012 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

      The local police received reports of a suspicious black male near one of the murder scenes, and the FBI told them not to release the information because the FBI profile suggested a “white male.” This was yet another case where PC anxiety costing lives. Avoiding the discomfort that would have come from telling the local women to be on the lookout for a black male was more important to the authorities than preventing more rapes/murders.

    • phil white
      Posted November 21, 2012 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

      This may be your answer. Both men and women have testosterone. Blacks have more testosterone than whites. Testosterone produces traits of hyper activity, masculinity and aggression.
      Less testosterone and more estrogen produce passive behavior and femininity. Both men and women have estrogen. It’s just that men have more testosterone, women have more estrogen.
      Now white women have less testosterone that black women. So white women are more passive and feminine. Have you ever noticed the brash, aggressive nature of many black females?
      Both sexes are more attracted to members of the opposite sex that exhibit exaggerated sexual traits, both physical and emotional traits.
      Now all else being equal, can you guess why when a black male meets a more passive white female he is more attracted than he is to some black females?
      Can you see that white males are definitely not going to be attracted by brash black female personalities?
      Can you see why, again all else being equal, when a white female meets a hyper aggressive black male she is more likely to be tempted outside her race than is a white male?
      There is of course a political “getting back at your enemy by fing their women” political element to black sexual predation on white women. But for my part I think I understand why white women date blacks at about a four to one ratio to what white men will.

  8. rhondda
    Posted November 20, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    Aggression is healthy when it is a response to a threat and has an object. However, it is also a natural healthy assertion. That is why it is channeled into sports and martial arts and other means of feeling in control of yourself. I say this as a mother of boys. When it is turned in on the self, it becomes pathological and then explodes.
    I have talked to men that just love a good brawl. It is totally foreign to me, but okay. I do think they have to call up that ‘killer instinct’ in order to see who is the strongest. Black eyes, bloody noses are just signs of great fun. They end up buying beers for each other.
    It is the simmering anger that one has to watch out for disguised as virtue.

  9. rdub
    Posted November 21, 2012 at 1:11 am | Permalink

    Not quite sure if I completely buy the thesis, but the writing is masterful–the choice of the extended opening making the transition into the body is gutsy and self-assured. Great work.

  10. Donar van Holland
    Posted November 21, 2012 at 6:09 am | Permalink

    It might be helpful to distinguish three pleasurable aspects, or urges, in the killing process as described by the author.

    The first aspect is the hunt. The tension, the emotional and intellectual stimulation, that can be felt in such disparate activities as hunting for deer and hunting for information.

    The second aspect is physical aggression. The intense use of the body under pressure when the stakes are high.

    The last aspect is victory. Power is pleasure. It is the satisfaction of seeing reality bend to your will. Even killing your enemy by dispassionately pressing a button is rather satisfying. Or designing and building a bridge.

    These three aspects are celebrated when they are used for the common good, and otherwise condemned. This does not effect their pleasurable nature, of course. Honouring vitality means celebrating these urges, independent of the societal context, beyond good and evil. Sublimation is not a mystique transformation of these urges, but nothing more than seeking them out in circumstances that benefit the common good.

    It is a kind of liberation and enlightenment to understand, accept and even celebrate these urges. Being aware of actual human nature frees your conscience from guilt and your actions from confusion. Clarity.

    For example, it was quite transformative for me to realize that the good guys in “The Lord of the Rings” enjoyed killing too. They even make jokes about the number they killed. What? This lanky, handsome, blonde, twinky elf Legolas enjoys killing? Sure he does. Everybody does.

  11. excalibur
    Posted November 21, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    One of the most effective, subtle way of killing is when they kill your soul.
    When you see no purpose of living even more fiendish way of killing when you see no reason for your race to survive . When you accept that as “human”,”historical” or ” cosmic” justice.

  12. Owlbear
    Posted November 21, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    Jeff,

    how can you possibly take this fabricated tapes that you cite about supposedly German atrocities serious? Please use other examples than German soldiers. We had enough gross lies spread about the men who defended my country. Lies and fabrications coming from England, the motherland of all lies and manipulations; is that your affection for that arrogant murderer James Bond shining through, one of the most prominent symbols of anti-germanic hatred by germanic people since the Normans? As we can see over and over again tese days, murdering civilians, torture and humiliation are a specialty of the Anglo-Saxon armies, maybe because of the age-old corruption of their warrior class and nobility by the Jew or maybe because of that Normannic treason and hypocrisy that transports itself through the ages.

    I found your article, though written as usual in great style and with a lot of humor and insight, to be sickening. The pain and agony of living beings is no object of pleasure. The darkest of instincts are to be transcended, not to be celebrated. You tell that you live in the past but what you describe goes against any warrior code. It has nothing to do with putting evil people to their well-deserved punishment, nor is it the way of the Kshatrya who cuts away the rotten and unfitting life so that it may form in a better way, nor is it the way of the Berserker who only finds pleasure in killing a worthy enemy – but not in torturing him and not in the disposal of lesser beings; that would only be a joyless duty.

    What exactly is the difference between us and the bolshevik hordes that murdered my ancestors? What is the difference between us and the totalitarian child-molestors and their cutthroats whichnrule us now? What is the difference between an Aryan Männerbund and the mob that murders white farmers in South Africa, the mob that killed Terreblanche?

    Do we now over-interpret Nietzsche insofar that we will not have any compassion at all, with noone? I can just tell that this was definitly not the way of the National Socialist Workers Party, not the way of Hitler (who could not bear to even kill animals for his diet) or the German army. Even Himmler in his (later manipulated) speech at Posen told that killing enemy civilians because of perverted pleasure-taking deserves execution, no matter who the victim was (in this case Jews).

    Sorry, Jeff Costello, but heartless cruelty and extermination are not the way to go. My attitude has nothing to do with weakness and decadence. Fighting and killing are necessary, triumph is great and feeling excitement in the “hunt”, as v. Holland puts it, is good. But if you make use of this privilege, do not forget that you are highborn, star-born, that you are children of the Eagle and that therefore honor defines you, “knightly” behavior defines you. If you have a family, think how you would react if your children would display pleasure in killing. Certainly you would be alarmed. I myself feel that I need to get away from too much basement-dwelling and Internet aggression, maybe – Jeff – you should avoid the kitchen for some time.

  13. Owlbear
    Posted November 21, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    Dear Donar,

    let me add that when you were citing the example of Legolas I thought again: Yeah, that is one perfect example why “Lord of the Rings” is such an abomination. Really it ridicules and perverts the true story of the ring and the deep wisdom within it that was brought forth by the Germanic spirit. Again, I insist, the Normannic need to lie and invent a past that is more in line with its anti-Germanic self-hatred, shines through (compare what they made of the Arthur story). Tolkien expressed that he wanted to invent a mythology that fits England and that has no “contradictions”. This absurd claim is best seen in the context of Colin Cleary’s Ninefold and Fourfold articles. Real mythology is always “contradicting”. In reality, Tolkien was a mediocre writer, obsessed with anti-Germanism (though he was after all himself a German, but that is a quite familiar phenomenon if I look at all those German immigrants to the US who fought against their motherland in WWII). His understanding of Germanic spirit and religion was negligible. He instead turned those poorly understood topics into Christian Schmaltz just because he could not stand that Wagner had revived them and that this renewal in paganism was about to blow his Paulinic Christian cardhouse to dust.

    • Donar van Holland
      Posted November 24, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

      Dear Owlbear,

      I sympathise deeply with your pain and rage about the horrible sufferings of the Wehrmacht and the German population. Thomas Goodrich’s “Hellstorm” is an infuriating read! In fact, I hope I would have been brave enough to fight for the Waffen-SS had I lived in those years. However, I cannot regard the English as a race of liars. They have been lied to. They have been used, precisely by abusing their sense of honour and fairness.

      I agree with Greg Johnson that the act of killing itself, meaning the thrust of the sword into the entrails and the agony of the victim, do not seem really pleasurable to many people (and those who do, somehow never seem to find joy in strenuous physical exertion of the body). However, it is a possible outcome of the other -quite pleasurable- aspects I mentioned. These “dark” instincts just ARE. And the pleasure we derive from exercising those instincts too. We cannot deny pleasure!

      The idea of transcending the instincts smacks of a body-soul dichotomy I do not support. In fact, it is precisely animals, who supposedly have no soul, who can teach us here. Wolves may enjoy the hunt, the bodily excitement and the victory, but they never kill without a justifiable reason. Learning from them may induce us to seek out honourable and beneficial activities to exercise our instincts in.

      While I admit that the Lord of the Rings offers a rather contrived, christianized version of Norse mythology, I do not see why this story should be considered anti-Germanic. Tolkien himself has always denied that it was an allegory about the Third Reich. Michael Colhaze has even made the caim that Tolkien was on the same page as Wagner! Think about it: a hidden, creeping, evil force is building. It corrupts the minds, it turns green beautiful pastures into unnaturalness and hideousness (ever seen pictures by Lucien Freud?), and all it needs for World Domination is gold (the ring). Does this not remind you of a certain cabal?

      Please see: chechar.wordpress.com/2011/10/08/wagners-wisdom

  14. Jaego
    Posted November 21, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    It’s a paradox and Robert E Lee admitted to another military man that they must hide how much they enjoy war. Yet Lee was a great Christian Gentleman. Christianity, in its modern incarnations, just doesn’t have room for this part of human nature. In India, the religion most like Christianity is Vaishnavism or worship of Krishna. Yet in contrast they can fit something like this in because Krishna was the perfect warrior, lover, statesman, etc. Likewise Mohammad was a much more worldly figure than Christ and so the Warrior easily has a place at the table.

  15. Greg Johnson
    Posted November 22, 2012 at 1:50 am | Permalink

    Human beings do definitely have a dark side: aggression, anger, and sadism do exist. Sadism, of course, is taking pleasure in causing suffering or death. But I do think that this essay goes a bit far in positing sadism as natural to all human beings, specifically taking pleasure in killing. After all, if killing were pleasurable, slaughterhouses would be as popular as whorehouses. People would pay to kill animals, rather than require payment to kill them.

    And isn’t it killing when we pull a carrot from the earth or mow the lawn? But nobody takes pleasure in those sorts of things.

    I think that because killing is not pleasurable for most people, we have to deck it out with all sorts of extrinsic pleasures and also negative incentives in order to get people to do it. Hunting is a social activity. It is a physical activity. It is a form of problem solving, pitting man against beast, etc. But how many hunters spooge over the actual killing of a deer? Not many, I imagine.

    War, too, has to be decked out with extrinsic pleasures, pains, and other incentives in order to get people to kill others, because it is not pleasurable for normal people to kill other human beings. Some people do it for the college money. It might be pleasurable to mete out justice or revenge. It might be pleasurable to receive the honor of one’s friends. It might be pleasurable to go marching off in a splendid uniform and go camping for a few days. But when people start shooting back, that sort of fun evaporates very quickly. At that point, what keeps men fighting is not pleasure, but fear of their officers, their friends, the people back home. Most people would rather die than go against the herd, so a fortiori, they are willing to kill, and war is the most eloquent proof of that.

    As for the flies: I can understand deriving satisfaction from killing vermin. My garden was overrun with snails, so I started throwing them over the fence into the vacant lot next door. It was a chickenshit thing to do, because of course I was hoping they would die, but I spared myself knowledge of what actually happened. But when a children’s preschool was set up next door, I could not very well throw snails into the playground. So I started crushing them. Initially, I was squeamish, but then I became callous. I can’t say I enjoy ending their little worlds, but they are vermin, and I was satisfied to note that their population had collapsed. But I never felt the least bit squeamish about pulling weeds, which indicates that sentience and therefore sympathy — suffering along with other beings that can suffer — has a role in our reactions.

    One phenomenon that I would love an analysis of is violent video games. What is the pleasure in this? There is definitely a form of sadism that is being satisfied here.

    • UFASP
      Posted November 22, 2012 at 2:59 am | Permalink

      I think it actually depends on the content of the video game itself. Context is everything. I can remember growing up when Mortal Kombat was the big “violent” arcade game. It appalled all the soccer moms. And it was violent. And yes, in playing it you do take delight in destroying your enemies. But it’s also a scenario where you’re playing as a ninja against other ninja warriors in a nether realm trying to each kill each other in a very over-the-top manner because the characters themselves have over-the-top strength. So the satisfaction from the fighting games came from overcoming the obstacle (i.e. beating your opponent). In other words, the violence is competition-based which I do think has a mitigating effect on the sadism one may want to posit towards it. It’s nothing at all like those disgusting ‘Hostel’ movies where victims are put in chains and slowly cut open. Also, Street Fighter II (another notorious “violent” video game from the past) had no blood and the satisfying feeling was about the same give or take as if one were playing Mortal Kombat.

      With games like Grand Theft Auto where you go around running over people with your car and shooting hookers and doing God knows what else, the mental effect might be completely different because what you’re simulating is completely different. The Call Of Duty games, for example, are much less offensive to people for a reason, though they’re also violent; you’re put in a heroic situation. (However, I think a case can be made that the games run the dangerous risk of trivializing WWII and other wars that they try to reproduce.) But I don’t think you can ever (even in the case of something like video games) compartmentalize violence as a whole (not that you were doing this). In fact, I think compartmentalizing violence as a “thing in itself” rather than as an effect of different configurations of phenomena is a very liberal attitude towards life. (Again, just to avoid being misunderstood, I’m not confusing you for being a squeamish liberal with such an attitude.)

  16. Jaego
    Posted November 22, 2012 at 2:47 am | Permalink

    Existentialists have written about this: to take life is often an attempt to add life to your own ledger. You say to the Universe of Death, take this one not me. Old people in nursing homes talk excitedly about who has died lately – as if this insures them another week or month. Human sacrafice is obviously another manifestation. And some say war is a modern version for many – though covered over with many other motives and rationalizations.

    The Great Soldiers and Warriors transcend this through a focus on honor, courage, and duty – always ready to die as long as they die well. Some like Osama Bin Ladin have said that they are already dead – merely kept alive by Grace to do God’s will.

  17. phil white
    Posted November 23, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    Greg said:

    “War, too, has to be decked out with extrinsic pleasures, pains, and other incentives in order to get people to kill others, because it is not pleasurable for normal people to kill other human beings. Some people do it for the college money. It might be pleasurable to mete out justice or revenge. It might be pleasurable to receive the honor of one’s friends. It might be pleasurable to go marching off in a splendid uniform and go camping for a few days. But when people start shooting back, that sort of fun evaporates very quickly. At that point, what keeps men fighting is not pleasure, but fear of their officers, their friends, the people back home. Most people would rather die than go against the herd, so a fortiori, they are willing to kill, and war is the most eloquent proof of that.”

    Two things might be added to soliders motivation. Greg mentioned revenge which is a strong motivation once a war has been going for a while. A probably stronger one for soldiers is loyalty. You don’t want to let your buddies down. And no bond is stronger than that among men who have backed each other up in the face of death.
    Once when we thought we were in more danger than we actually were I looked over at Mike and saw his fore arms shaking violently as he gripped the steering wheel. I wondered at first if he had that bad a shimmy in the car. I then recalled what a good mechanic Mike was, and realized he was as scarred as I. But he didn’t say anything and he kept driving.

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