I am watching what is going on at Virginia Tech and I am scared. I hope that everyone stays in and stays safe and I pray for them and I worry for them, that community has lost enough already. This shouldn’t happen anywhere, and especially not where it has happened before. I’ve thought a lot about Cho Seung Hui and I think he and I looked a lot alike, and I see him, so close to me in my South Korean face and my immigrant eyes and I think that his parent’s house probably smelled the same as my parent’s house growing up, like dried squid and mothballs, like people from there trying to bring their lives over here and drying their lives and preserving their lives as if their lives there will keep on their journey here, and I am scared of my own potential for violence, for crazy.
How do we know we are not insane? How do we keep the thoughts inside us from spilling out into the world as bad acts – evil that is unchecked and unguarded and is hazardous to everyone? I know how to shoot guns well, to aim and fire, to hold them still through the kickback of gunpowder, yeah I shoot ok I guess, as I have done this in films, shot and been shot at in John Woo films no less, and I can truly say I don’t get any feeling from the action (even though I love John Woo).
Shooting a gun and hitting a target is not something that is fulfilling to me. No aggression is released from me as I pull the trigger. Obliterating a paper man has no effect on my psyche. I have no emotional connection to this language of guns and targets and shooting and loud pops and explosions. Nothing about it is satisfying to me and I feel chillingly neutral about the whole business. Does this mean i am cold blooded? That if i shot someone, I would feel nothing? All I feel when I hold a gun in my hand is the potential, this heavy metal potential and responsibility that I don’t want in my fingers. the end of my arm is reluctant to wield this much power. My fingers want to automatically go right in my ears, as I have extra sensitive bionic hearing that is good in recording studios and bad at the shooting range. The trigger seems to vibrate with a life i don’t want to acknowledge.
I see guns tucked into LA cops belts as they walk the beat of Ventura Boulevard, and earlier model automatic weapons, nylon straps loosely hanging on armed guards’ shoulders like expensive vintage purses when I travel through North Africa and India and Mexico. They don’t spell safety or security to me. They just signal a possibility of loudness I don’t want to hear and a suggestion that there outside is an unspoken danger that requires arms, that this thin blue line or whatever color line is supposed to hold back.
I didn’t grow up with any awareness of school shootings, although many happened before and during my time as a student, the earliest one I know of being in the 60’s in Texas. If you look up school shooting on Wikipedia, the list of crimes is exhaustive, fairly unbelievable, but if you think about it, school violence whether with guns or without has always been brutal. We feel so many feelings when we grow up, and not the least of these is anger. There’s a rage that rises unspeakable and terrifying in children, and if you deny this, then you don’t know what being a kid is like. You must have forgotten or grown up homeschooled or something else I am not familiar with. Kids are mean to a murderous degree and I can feel it like it is the first day of school. Sometimes I am glad because I don’t have any children, but then if you are childless then essentially the world’s children are your children, having none of your own, then none are held in higher regard, so by default they are all yours. It’s fucked up. I am scared for the kids and I love the kids and I don’t like guns but maybe at times they are needed. I don’t know.