Wednesday, July 05, 2006

MLM: Hannibal Lecter 

It is the gift of the best horror to make us complicit with the horrendous. Call it “sympathy for the devil” if you like. It's an effective device; if the horror in a story is kept unknowable or unreachable, we can only go so far before we reach the limit of our connection. In Lovecraft or in Aliens, there must ultimately come an unbridgable gap between ourselves and what we deem Evil. We may end up with dread (as in Lovecraft) or gore-soaked action (as in Aliens), but never do we tread all the way into personal horror. We cannot.

Hannibal Lecter. I can guarantee that if you're here, now, reading this, you know who Hannibal Lecter is. Saying the name will evoke certain images, thoughts, feelings, reactions -- perhaps you're thinking about that crucifixion after Lecter's escape in Silence of the Lambs, or his slithering tongue, or his encyclopedic knowledge of perfumes and aftershaves. Perhaps you remember how quickly he turned a phone call to his lawyer into a pinpointing of his captor's home. Maybe one of his memorable and oft-quoted lines, crafted and enunciated so perfectly as to suggest complete barbarism by way of utter civility.


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