Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘crazy awful

‘These Boys Have to Live with This the Rest of Their Lives’

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Has the New York Times fired every single one of its editors? How did a piece blaming an eleven-year-old girl for her own gang-rape by eighteen teenagers and men ever see the light of day? More here, here, and here. My god.

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March 9, 2011 at 5:16 pm

Awesome, Awesome, Awesome, Awful

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In the London Review of Books, Nicholas Spice has thoughts on the horrifying Elisabeth Fritzl story, still I think the most awful thing I’ve ever heard.

The story of Amstetten has the unreality of the ‘bad’ fairy tale. The numbers in it are fairy-tale numbers: seven children above ground, seven children below. The 24 years of Elisabeth’s captivity are as inexact as the hundred years that Sleeping Beauty slept – they stand for eternity. We might be able to imagine being locked away in a windowless cellar for 24 days, for 24 weeks even, but not 24 years. How did Elisabeth Fritzl survive this? In what sense did she survive it?

There’s a strange, haunting novel called Die Wand (The Wall) by Marlen Haushofer, an Austrian writer from the generation before Jelinek’s, in which a woman finds herself trapped in a mountain valley which has been sealed off by a mysterious and invisible wall. She is alone except for a dog, a cat and a cow. As the months pass, her fear grows that she will lose her humanity: not that she will become an animal – animals are not monstrous – but that she will overstep the animal altogether, since ‘a human being can never become just an animal; he plunges beyond, into the abyss.’ In an attempt to prevent this she keeps strictly to her daily routine – brushing her teeth, cleaning the house, keeping her clothes in good order, hanging up the washing, feeding the animals. Josef Fritzl doubtless imposed certain standards on his daughter’s housekeeping. She needed to be kept moderately human. So he built her a kitchen and a bathroom (did he let her choose the tiles? Jelinek asks). So that, like any good housewife, she could wash and cook. So that, like any good housewife, she would remain wholesome to fuck.

If we have trouble grasping how Elisabeth Fritzl could have stayed sane, the capacity of her father not to understand what he was doing to his daughter, not, above all, to understand what it meant to keep her there for a quarter of a century, is perplexing in a different way (in his first account of himself, Fritzl said he was ‘probably a monster’ – probably). Freud characterised the unconscious as without temporal extension. Fantasies expressive of unconscious desires do not exist in time. Above ground, Josef Fritzl obeyed the rules of ordinary time and causality, the rules that say actions have consequences and are subject to the constraints of conscience (das Gewissen); but when he went down into his cellar, he left all this behind to enter the timeless underworld (das Ungewisse) of his desires. As long as no one found out, it was as if what he did down there had never happened (if he’d killed his children and grandchildren, he said, no one would have made a fuss). Jelinek calls what Fritzl did to his daughter a ‘performance’, the addictive acting out of a pathological need. In building his cellar, Fritzl was building a compartment of his own mind, a theatre for the nightly performance of his fantasies. Elisabeth Fritzl’s grotesque misfortune was to be imprisoned in this compartment, to be trapped inside her father’s head.

Written by gerrycanavan

June 2, 2008 at 5:50 pm

Education Bits

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Education bits:

* Kindergartener voted out of class after teacher holds public shaming. What an absurd disgrace. I sure hope the parents enjoy their inevitable million-dollar settlement.

* Twelve-year-old girl banned from local basketball league for being so much better than the boys.

Written by gerrycanavan

May 30, 2008 at 2:24 am

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Sensationalistic *and* Awful

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I don’t normally post the big-media sensationalism of the moment, but this without a doubt is one of the most awful things I’ve ever heard.

Police in Austria have entered a cellar where a man allegedly held his daughter captive for 24 years, during which time he may have fathered seven children by her.

Detectives say Elisabeth Fritzl had been missing since August 29, 1984.

And, unbelievably, it gets worse.

Written by gerrycanavan

April 28, 2008 at 1:02 pm

Things That Are Guaranteed to Totally Wig Me Out

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Things that are guaranteed to totally wig me out: AP probes that find trace amounts of drugs in our drinking water.

A vast array of pharmaceuticals — including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones — have been found in the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans, an Associated Press investigation shows.

To be sure, the concentrations of these pharmaceuticals are tiny, measured in quantities of parts per billion or trillion, far below the levels of a medical dose. Also, utilities insist their water is safe.

But the presence of so many prescription drugs — and over-the-counter medicines like acetaminophen and ibuprofen — in so much of our drinking water is heightening worries among scientists of long-term consequences to human health.

Written by gerrycanavan

March 11, 2008 at 1:14 pm

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