I have not been following the Virginia Tech stuff very closely; but I have been musing nonetheles on violence in our society, how we all handle it, and how it invades us. Cho Seung-Hui was invaded by violence, and wrote violent creative writing that should have been a tip off, or that's what they say.
I took one writing class in college. It was an Introduction to Fiction Writing class
taught by a man who was nice, but, frankly, had no idea what to do with us ELAC-kids when we got going in a classroom. Many things went down in that classroom that were sexist, racist, etc. (Imagine this: someone asked me why there weren't more father figures in my short stories, and suggested the "return of the father" as a plot point for... everything.) I digress. One day in class, we were critiquing a story that was about graphic, violent, rape. This story was gratuitous in its descriptions, and sexist in its characterizations of both men and women. The community context of this classroom was that no less that seven women had recently gone to the dean to report sexual assault. It was a bad spring at ELAC, and I was thick in the planning of Take Back the Night. My friend L., another TBTN organizer, after trying to talk to this boy about the violence in the story and having him defend it, had to leave, slamming the door. Sitting there in that classroom, I felt that this boy and the story had committed another act of violence.
I don't know who in that classroom I would have referred to psych services based on their writing, but thinking about Virginia Tech, and I am very wary of censoring creative minds as they begin to explore their own inner workings. But I have thinking about what my role in a classroom would be and what the role of violence is in art. (Very few people express violent urges in economics problem sets.)
Let me be clear: I have written about graphic violence. Much of my current work deals with the outrageous violence that we do against each other in society and the ways in which that breaks a society apart. Some who have read it, included Sister, Esq. have been stunned by my capacity and willingness to describe a violence that I have never witnessed. I feel like I am with violence everyday, that is surround and pervades me so completely that writing it out is a way to counter, no perpetuate it. My writing is violent, but I hope that it never does violence, I hope that the ways in which it disturbs always probes myself and others to reach out of the darkness and push against the cold damp stones of the trap we have set for ourselves, into a brighter day.
Epilogue: The guy who wrote the rape story now runs a small porn company. I have a feeling it is not the happy sex positive porn that I would like.