Sunday, 24 July 2011


It is not so much Anders Behring Breivik's ideas, banal enough in themselves, to which there is a link on a Comment is Free as a reader's contribution, as the elephantine text extending to 777,724 words. I won't link directly to it since the sheer verbiage will slow down your computer and possibly fall right through your desk. I have tried to have a brief look - he spends some time on literature and postmodernism etc, while concentrating primarily on 'political correctness' - but any person so obsessed by an idea as to have it swell up to this size and then act on it is a maniac of some sort.

I have quoted Auden before on big numbers and small numbers, as here:

Numbers and Faces

Lovers of small number go benignly potty,
Believe all tales are thirteen chapters long,
Have animal doubles, carry pentagrams,
Are Millerites, Baconians, Flat-Earth-Men.

Lovers of big numbers go horridly mad,
Would have the Swiss abolished, all of us
Well purged, somatotyped, baptized, taught baseball:
They empty bars, spoil parties, run for Congress.

Breivik is one of those semi-intelligent people who are actually more stupid than any genuinely stupid person. Vastly overestimating semi-intelligence is not only stupid but worse. It is blind, arrogant, and always malevolent in effect. There is deadly danger in being obsessed by one's own importance or the importance of one's ideas: the two are almost the same thing. This madman doesn't run for Congress: he kills over ninety people. Deliberately. Each one face to face, body to body. Big numbers again, all made up of single units. One and one and one. They are mostly very young people and their loss is audible all over the world. All those remaining single ones in shock, in tears, in despair. It is arrogance that has cancelled out their ones and substituted one enormous number of its own: 777,724.

Hard to know what to do with such thoughts. The world is no different today from what it was yesterday or the day before. Leaves move in the breeze. The sun is quietly going down. The cat steals a biscuit from the table. The visitors set off elsewhere. The fingers move over the keyboard. The flowers in the small yard hold their brilliant own.


panther said...

As far as I understand it, nowwhere in all that voluminous document does Breivik explain how blowing up some people in Oslo, and shooting all those young people on the island, is going to make Norwegians en masse fling their hands up and demand the expulsion of Muslims. He is verbose, but he isn't joining the dots.

Semi-intelligent, indeed. I've met a few folk over the years I'd describe as such. Combine their semi-intelligence with a compassion deficit and you have a lethal cocktail.

George S said...

He was thinking long term, panther. 2083 AD, I think. He was just making an early start.

Since then the names and faces of the victims have started appearing.