Thursday, June 18, 2015

THE SPIRAL NOTEBOOK by Stephen Singular

 The Spiral Notebook by Stephen Singular refers to the diary and notes taken by James Holmes before committing mass murder in an Aurora Colorado movie theater. While following Holmes from the shooting and through the court system, he also brings into focus other shootings, such as Columbine, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, and the Washington Navy Yard, using interviews and commentary from science in an effort to understand the reasons and prevent future crimes. Tom Taylorson reads the audiobook, moving from the dramatic recounting of events to the steady examinations of culture and stress. In a society that demands and rewards aggression to establish one’s identity, one that equates popularity, money, and power with self worth, the stresses that hit young kids early and often are out of control. The violent video game market has benefited from these stresses, becoming multi-billion dollar companies. But sometimes games such as Grand Theft Auto (in which you can kill police and innocents with automatic weapons, and even commit rape) don’t provide sufficient relief from these stresses, and kids move on to real weapons. Since that part of the brain (frontal cortex) associated with decision making doesn’t fully develop until age 25, it explains why most mass shooters are between 18-25, and male (because peer pressure to physically dominate is greatest for males.) It is also interesting to note that you are 25 times more likely to be attacked by a male age 18-25 than by any other demographic. Add rejection, stress, loneliness, a feeling of estrangement or unfairness, of being “disrespected” (as one shooter put it), and you have the perfect storm of revenge. As contrast, the author (who lived in Spain for a time) contrasts the culture here with there. In Barcelona, he says, one does not sit alone in coffee shops, face down in a computer screen, not talking to anyone. They find American habits and obsessions with weapons odd, and sad, and they do not have even 10% of the per capita gun crime we do. He recounts one shooter saying that “if only one person had talked to me, or cared, I wouldn’t have done it.” The author suggests yoga (or even walking with a friend) as a better way of relieving stress than violent video games, which numb the mind to accept violence as inevitable just by repetition. A must hear. AUDIOBOOK OF THE MONTH.  

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