Wed, 27 Aug 2003

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running amok

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I've been meaning to riff of off this blog entry about suicide. Maybe the timing is bad, considering that some guy just shot up six of his coworkers before offing himself [Chicago Tribune article][ABC News], but, as Michael Moore documents in "Bowling for Columbine", this sort of thing shouldn't be surprising.

But the cultural differences between the Japanese and Filipinos is starkly ilustrated in the way they tend to commit suicide. (Given this, it's a wonder that WWII went the way it went.) As Erik points out, seppuku tends to be socially non-disruptive (which is, however, a stark contrast to kamikaze fighter pilots, but I suppose that's a different story.) Whereas, the type of suicide that many Southeast Asians are familiar with tend to take out as many people as possible. They call it "running amok." We invented going postal. Running amok is the reason why the .357 was invented. (.22 caliber bullets just wouldn't stop those Moro warriors.)

As mentioned in this interesting article about homicidal maniacs "Reading Killer Hands", the neurologist Steven Pinker writes about running amok in his book How the Mind Works. While I don't have the book in front of me right now (I've read it a couple of times), he discusses how there may very well be a doomsday machine module in the brain, akin to the one found in "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb", which leads to acts of suicide given the right trigger.

Is it selfish? You bet. But, given that many Filipinos I know are very fatalistic, I would urge you to never piss one off.

Not that I am a ticking time bomb or anything. Seriously!

20:11:33 27 Aug 2003 > /soul > permalink > 4 comments

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